Welcome back everyone! Today the countdown continues with songs 60-51 of the 101 Biggest Hits of 2013! If this is your first time checking in on the countdown, please read this for the process by which I ranked the songs you are about to see! Without further ado, let’s pick up where we left off with song #60!
#60: Little Talks by Of Monsters And Men
Peak: #20 2013 Weeks on Chart: 18 Points: 1268
For such a small country, it is truly amazing that there is a music scene in Iceland that is as well-known as it is. Over the past 20 years, global audiences have gotten to know artists like The Sugarcubes, their enigmatic singer Bjork, and the indie rock group Sigur Ros. However, with the exception of Bjork’s “Big Time Sensuality” (1994) and “Earth Intruders” (2007), neither of which cleared #80, no Icelandic songs have made any headway on the Billboard Hot 100. Enter Of Monsters And Men, whose festival-ready anthemic sound has made them one of the most successful up-and-coming bands in the alternative scene. Although released in 2011, their debut single “Little Talks” took almost 18 months to grab hold in the United States, before becoming a pop radio staple by the end of 2012. Their debut album My Head Is An Animal also includes the tracks “Dirty Paws” and “Mountain Sound.”
#59: Let Her Go by Passenger
Peak: #9 2013 Weeks on Chart: 20 Points: 1298
Looks like we’ve found one of the recurrent themes of 2013. Just like “Little Talks” and several other songs higher on the countdown, “Let Her Go” by Passenger was actually recorded back in 2011. In case it sounds like the name of a band to you (just like Five For Fighting), Passenger is actually the stage name for British folk singer Michael Rosenberg. The chart run of “Let Her Go” has thus far mirrored many sleeper hits that have reached the Top 10 in recent years. Following a month or so of languishing in the lower third of the chart, the song found its footing on both pop and Adult Contemporary radio, reaching the Top 10 in December and remaining there as of the time of publication.
#58: Brave by Sara Bareilles
Peak: #26 2013 Weeks on Chart: 27 Points: 1346
Apparently it pays for a song to sound reminiscent of an even bigger hit. Just ask Sara Bareilles, whose single “Brave” sounds eerily similar to Katy Perry’s “Roar” (although Bareilles’ hit was recorded and released first). Utilized in every Windows Phone commercial and featuring a crowd-sourced music video in the style of Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger,” the single off of The Blessed Unrest became her second-most successful single ever, lagging only behind her breakout hit “Love Song.” Perhaps spurred on by the success of the song, Bareilles shocked everyone on Grammy Nomination night by scoring two nominations, including a Best Album nod.
#57: That’s My Kind Of Night by Luke Bryan
Peak: #15 2013 Weeks on Chart: 18 Points: 1356
Ever since breaking into the scene with “Rain Is A Good Thing” a few years back, Luke Bryan has been pretty consistent in cranking out hit after hit. Over the course of the last two years, he has proven himself as one of the few artists in country music today who can crack the Top 20 of the Hot 100 with a country song, not an easy feat given the low probability of crossing over to pop radio. Luke Bryan accomplished the feat twice in 2013, most recently with “That’s My Kind Of Night.” Off of his highly successful album Crash My Party, the song represents Bryan’s least traditional record yet, from some drum machine-esque beats to name-checking T-Pain in the second verse. Perhaps this pop-friendliness is what allowed the song to become his highest-charting effort to date.
#56: Crash My Party by Luke Bryan
Peak: #18 2013 Weeks on Chart: 21 Points: 1383
As a chart enthusiast, I love it when this sort of thing happens. Given that 499 unique songs charted in some fashion in 2013, it is remarkable indeed that Luke Bryan’s two most successful singles this year happened to fall consecutively in the year-end rankings. There is another bizarre instance of this occurring later in the countdown, but I won’t reveal anything more (Try to guess for yourself if you’d like). The title track off of Bryan’s album, “Crash My Party” is the thematic opposite of “That’s My Kind Of Night,” a more tender ballad about his willingness to always be there for his beloved. It just goes to show that Luke Bryan has masterfully cornered the market on BOTH traditional types of country music.
#55: The Other Side by Jason Derulo
Peak: #18 2013 Weeks on Chart: 21 Points: 1392
Welcome to entry #2 in the “Artists Ryan Never Expected To Have A 2013 Comeback” series. Jason Derulo hadn’t really had a substantial radio hit since 2010’s “In My Head“, and three years can be an eternity for an artist trying to remain relevant in the pop scene (Just ask Sean Kingston). Nonetheless, Derulo came firing back in 2013 with his Tattoos EP, led by “The Other Side,” a dancefloor-ready track about breaking out of the friend-zone. His second single “Marry Me” is experiencing a similar level of success, as it just recently broke into the Top 30.
#54: I Will Wait by Mumford & Sons
Peak: #12 2013 Weeks on Chart: 20 Points: 1430
Mumford & Sons’ traditional folk sound has lent itself more heartily towards album sales than healthy radio airplay. Their debut album Sigh No More was a force over on the Billboard Albums chart, but only mustered a modest chart run from one song, “The Cave.” However, the band fared much better with their 2012 album Babel. By winning the Album of the Year award at the 2013 Grammys, the album’s success paved the way for lead single “I Will Wait” to endure well into 2013. Lyrically, it lacks the poetic power of Sigh No More‘s Shakespearean undertones, but its catchy chorus captured the attention of popular radio stations across America.
#53: It’s Time by Imagine Dragons
Peak: #15 2013 Weeks on Chart: 19 Points: 1442
When “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons ruled alternative radio in late 2012 and early 2013, I thought that it would become one of those massive one-hit wonders the “indie pop” genre has been cranking out for over a decade. Boy was I wrong. Even though it wound up spending over 40 weeks on the Hot 100 and accrued a great many points for a rock song, the 2011-recorded (there’s that trend again) debut single will likely be considered historically as a footnote. Its fame in later years will likely be as a vanguard, preparing American radio audiences for the pop-rock phenomena that “Radioactive” and “Demons” would become. More on those two tracks later.
#52: Harlem Shake by Baauer
Peak: #1 (for 5 weeks) 2013 Weeks on Chart: 20 Points: 1469
Almost halfway through the countdown, we reach both our first #1 single of 2013, as well as my first vastly different ranking from Billboard’s Year-End Hot 100. According to Billboard, Baauer’s viral smash “Harlem Shake” was the 4th-biggest single of 2013, and I just don’t agree with that. While it was inescapable in February and March, it quickly faded out of the popular eye, and the last six months of 2013 were relatively Baauer-free. Although it was the first single to benefit from Billboard’s inclusion of YouTube data, the same early-month hurrah which garnered its high ranking on Billboard’s Year-End list doomed it on my countdown to a middling position. Still, managing to spend 5 weeks atop the Hot 100 is an achievement worth noting, especially for a song with little to no radio potential.
#51: Boys Round Here by Blake Shelton f/Pistol Annies & Friends
Peak: #12 2013 Weeks on Chart: 21 Points: 1500
If you had to pick one country song that dominated the summer of 2013 more than any other, you’d be hard-pressed to pick anything besides “Boys Round Here” by The Voice coach and country superstar Blake Shelton. Man oh man, was this song everywhere. Featuring female trio Pistol Annies (which includes his wife Miranda Lambert) and a cast of “Friends” comprising the co-writers and producers, the intentionally silly song uses spoken-word verses to proclaim the Southern way of life with assertions like “the boys ’round here don’t listen to the Beatles.” Reaching all the way to #12 on the Hot 100, it became Shelton’s biggest hit in an already memorable career, including 15 Country #1 singles.
Looks like we’ve made it to the halfway point of the 101 Biggest Hits of 2013! Thank you very much to everyone who’s been reading these daily posts! I’ll see you here tomorrow for a Christmas Eve version of the countdown, featuring Songs #50-41!