Welcome back everyone! Today the countdown continues with songs 20-11 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! Every song counts now, so without further ado, let’s pick up where we left off with song #20!
#20: The Way by Ariana Grande f/Mac Miller
Peak: #9 2013 Weeks on Chart: 26 Points: 2095
In a year that saw Disney Channel stars like Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez achieve great notoriety on the Hot 100, “Victorious” actress Ariana Grande burst onto the scene herself. While her show aired on Nickelodeon, she nonetheless experienced similar levels of success with her debut single “The Way.” Featuring a verse from Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller, the song had phenomenal first-week sales, leading it to debut at #10 on the Hot 100. It was the first time a debut single by a female artist bowed in the Top 10 since Yael Naim’s 2008 iPod commercial song “New Soul.”
#19: Holy Grail by Jay Z f/Justin Timberlake
Peak: #4 2013 Weeks on Chart: 23 Points: 2098
Eager to throw his name into the ring for “Comeback Artist of 2013” accolades, Jay Z officially dropped the hyphen in his stage name and released Magna Carta…Holy Grail. The album was very polarizing and not entirely well-received by critics, but its lead single “Holy Grail” became one of Jay’s biggest hits in his storied career. Featuring Justin Timberlake (my pick for Comeback Artist of the Year) on the chorus, “Holy Grail” debuted at #8 and remained in the Top 10 for its first 16 weeks. No other singles have been released from the album, although “Tom Ford” spent 20 weeks on the chart as an album cut.
#18: Suit & Tie by Justin Timberlake f/Jay Z
Peak: #3 2013 Weeks on Chart: 26 Points: 2101
Here’s our second instance of consecutive songs by the same artist on the countdown. As fate would have it, the lead artist and feature switched spots to create “Suit & Tie” by Justin Timberlake. Released in January as a teaser single for his 2013 album The 20/20 Experience, the song became his first Top Ten single as the main artist since “Summer Love” in 2007. Complete with a Jay Z rap verse and a David Fincher-directed music video, the smash hit paved the way for the album’s 2013-best 900,000 units sold in its first week. Combined with the even larger success of the second single “Mirrors,” Timberlake staged a comeback for the ages, proving that his seven year hiatus to focus on his acting career was a viable and shrewd decision.
#17: I Knew You Were Trouble. by Taylor Swift
Peak: #2 2013 Weeks on Chart: 27 Points: 2210
Taylor Swift has always been precariously perched on the line between country music and pop music. Even “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” the first single from Red, had a country edit that played on the radio. However, with “I Knew You Were Trouble,” Swift finally shrugged off her country music roots and delivered a single that was pure pop all the way, and audiences just ate it up. Even though it “only” peaked at #2, the song lasted far longer on the chart than “….Back Together” and showed us that Swift could be just as successful without having to cater to two separate genres.
#16: We Can’t Stop by Miley Cyrus
Peak: #2 2013 Weeks on Chart: 26 Points: 2231
I don’t want to have to talk too long about this one. Everybody is aware of the social media and tabloid firestorm created by new-look Miley and “We Can’t Stop,” her first single off of Bangerz. From the VMA performance to Liam Hemsworth breaking off the engagement, we’ve heard enough about Miley for one year. What I can say about the song is that it started her commercial partnership with Mike Will Made It and nearly became Cyrus’ first #1 single, but was staved off by “Blurred Lines” spending 12 weeks atop the chart. She finally achieved the feat with “Wrecking Ball” a few weeks later. I hope I’m not alone in saying that I just want the “See You Again” Miley back.
#15: Safe And Sound by Capital Cities
Peak: #8 2013 Weeks on Chart: 33 Points: 2271
Hey look! Still another 2011-released song achieving hit single status in 2013. Don’t worry, this isn’t the last one either, as no less than 4 songs in the Top 10 of my countdown fit this criteria as well. In a delay that would make even Ellie Goulding impressed, indie duo Captial Cities recorded “Safe And Sound” all the way back in 2008, before releasing it as a digital download in 2011. Their first album In A Tidal Wave Of Mystery wasn’t released until early 2013, when “Safe And Sound” was used in a German telephone ad, sparking its worldwide rise to fame. Still on the Hot 100 as of 2014’s first chart, “Safe And Sound” has now been a relevant piece of music for seven calendar years. How’s that for longevity?
#14: Clarity by Zedd f/Foxes
Peak: #8 2013 Weeks on Chart: 33 Points: 2285
I miss the glory days of pop-friendly electronic music back in the mid-1990s, when European artists like the Real McCoy, Ace of Base, and SNAP! dominated the Hot 100 with their techno anthems. It seems like we’re seeing a small resurgence of mainland European artists achieving popularity in America with DJs like Avicii and Zedd having great years. The German’s single “Clarity” spent over 30 weeks on the Hot 100, and became the first Top 10 in America for a German artist since “Everytime We Touch” by Cascada in 2005. His second single “Stay The Night” featuring Paramore singer Hayley Williams is currently on the charts, where it has peaked in the Top 20.
#13: Cups (Pitch Perfect’s ‘When I’m Gone’) by Anna Kendrick
Peak: #6 2013 Weeks on Chart: 44 Points: 2460
Soundtrack single used to be a dominant way for hit songs to reach the top of the charts. However, there has not been a soundtrack-only #1 single since “Shake Ya Tailfeather” came off the Bad Boys II soundtrack in 2003. Pitch Perfect, the 2012 a capella group comedy, achieved great popularity and tried to put an end to that decade-long streak. “Cups,” Academy Award-nominated actress Anna Kendrick’s audition song in the film, became a massive sleeper hit in 2013. The song took over 30 weeks to reach its peak of #6, but the radio edit (adding instrumentation) became a favorite on Adult Contemporary radio, allowing it to spend a whopping 11 months on the Hot 100.
#12: Get Lucky by Daft Punk f/Pharrell Williams
Peak: #2 2013 Weeks on Chart: 29 Points: 2541
Were it not for the sheer enormity of Justin Timberlake’s 2013, I have no doubt that I would be using this post to crown Daft Punk the Comeback Artist of the year. After an 8 year gap since their last studio album, they released Random Access Memories in May, which was critically acclaimed and reached #1 in almost every country worldwide. Rolling Stone magazine called the album the 3rd best of the year, and crowned single “Get Lucky” the Best Song of 2013. Featuring vocals from Pharrell Williams and guitar work from Chic founder Nile Rodgers, the 70s throwback easily became Daft Punk’s biggest hit in their nearly 2-decade career.
#11: Stay by Rihanna f/Mikky Ekko
Peak: #3 2013 Weeks on Chart: 32 Points: 2619
Even in what could easily be considered an “off year” for Rihanna, she still managed to place a song very near to the countdown’s Top 10. “Stay,” the second single off of Unapologetic is probably the slowest, most ballad-esque Rihanna single since “Take A Bow” in 2008. A duet with Louisiana vocalist Mikky Ekko, “Stay” proves to be a stark contrast to Rihanna’s edgier, more adult song material in recent years. It gives me hope that the innocent Rihanna of the past is still out there, although her laying nude in a bathtub throughout the music video gives me unfortunate doubts.
Well, we’re almost there! Tomorrow will be the last installation in the 101 Biggest Hits of 2013! It has been an absolute joy writing these daily articles, and I am extremely appreciative for all the loyal readers who have made this countdown a great experience. I’ll see you here tomorrow for the unveiling of songs 10 through 1!