Top 100 Pop Songs Of 2013

It was a big year for dance pop and retro sounds among the best pop music of the year.  Based on critical evaluation these are the 100 best pop songs of 2013.

We the Kings shifted from their typically sunny pop-rock to explore bullying in the single "Just Keep Breathing" from the band's fourth album Somewhere Somehow.  The result was the third single from the group to break into the Billboard Hot 100.

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As part of one of the key trends in pop music early in 2013, Chris Brown dove into the sounds of classic R&B with this single.  His primary reference point was the Off the Wall era music of Michael Jackson.  The thoroughly entertaining music video also includes dancing heavily influenced by Michael Jackson.

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The band American Authors came together after the members met each other as students at the Berklee College Of Music.  Their sound is in the vein of a poppier Imagine Dragons. This is their first hit single and it reached the top 10 on both the adult pop and rock songs charts.

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For her debut pop single Glee star Lea Michele enlisted some top collaborators.  Sia co-wrote "Cannonball," and the record was produced by R&B veteran producers Stargate.  The record showcases her powerful voice.

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The third single from Fall Out Boy's #1 hit album Save Rock and Roll found the band in pop friendly territory.  The group performed the song at the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and were joined by dancing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

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The girl group Fifth Harmony finished third in the second season of .  This is their first single and contains a potent soulful power ballad influenced chorus.  The record was put together by rising production duo The Suspex.

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For those who want to remember Justin Timberlake's first two solo albums, "TKO" provides a pleasing flashback while also being updated for contemporary pop radio.  The Timbaland production is loaded with his trademark background sound effects while the star lets his soulful vocals glide across the top.

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If you want a good natured, sunny pick me up, guitarist and singer-songwriter Jack Johnson will never let you down.  "I Got You" is the first single from his fourth consecutive #1 hit album From Here To Now To You.

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British boy band The Wanted struggled commercially in the US in 2013.  However, this anthemic dance track was just one of three top 10 pop hits at home in the UK.  "We Own the Night" is instantly infectious and likeable.

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British rave band Hadouken!  brought their uptempo dance music to US pop audiences in 2013.  The song quickly soars into the club stratosphere with a powerful beat.  "Levitate" broke the group into the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time.

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Rihanna proved her ability to break a young pop artist into the mainstream with her ballad hit "Stay."  The song was co-written by Louisiana based singer-songwriter Mikky Ekko, and he is also the featured vocalist.  The vulnerability expressed in the song quickly found a niche at ballad starved mainstream pop radio.

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2013 was a big year for 17 year old Austin Mahone.  He captured a much sought after spot as opener for Taylor Swift on her Red concert tour.  With production from RedOne, "What About Love" broke Austin Mahone into the top 20 at mainstream pop radio.  The sound is classic teen pop with a surprisingly heavy party beat.

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With the music on her album Red, Taylor Swift moved into more collaboration with other artists than ever before.  Here she found a sympathetic musical partner in UK singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran.  The result was a sweetly romantic pop song.

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17 year old Zendaya spent 2013 trying to turn herself into a household name.  She built her core audience as star of the Disney channel series Shake It Up.  However, many adults became aware of the rising artist with her appearance in 2013 on Dancing With the Stars.  Later in the year the slightly sultry dance pop of "Replay" broke Zendaya at mainstream pop radio.

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Following recovery from a serious neck injury suffered in dance rehearsals, Jason Derulo kicked his career back into high gear in 2013.  His high profile relationship with girlfriend Jordin Sparks inspired this single.  He pledges undying love in a song likely to be heard at many weddings in the year to come.

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Backed by a frenzy of public relations hype, Lady Gaga released the single "Applause," the first track from her album .  The response from many critics and fans was underwhelming, but the song does wear a bit better than expected.  "Applause" works well on most any current party soundtrack.

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Russian-German DJ and electronic music producer Zedd broke into the US pop mainstream this year with "Clarity."  It welds a crowd-pleasing pop sensibility with club friendly beats.  The soaring vocals are provided by British singer-songwriter Foxes who had her own breakthrough pop hit at home with "Youth."  

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Drake dives once more into auto-biographical territory on this rap hit.  The song helped announce the arrival of co-producer Mike Zombie.  Piano is used frequently in the mix.  "Started From the Bottom" was one of the top 10 hits of the year on both the rap and R&B songs charts.

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"Love More" made its first appearance in a live performance at the 2013 BET Awards.  The minimalist production was provided by FRESHM3N III.  The song includes one of Nicki Minaj's top featured performances of the year.

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Bruno Mars' "Treasure" is one of the most overtly retro sounding songs from his #1 hit album Unorthodox Jukebox.  It includes elements of classic soul and disco.  The accompanying music video won the Best Choreography honor at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards.

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The performance of "Cups" by Anna Kendrick in the hit film Pitch Perfect only lasts approximately one minute.  However, this extended production of the song became a surprise top 10 pop hit.  It also inspired many fans to learn the plastic cup percussion routine.  The song itself has roots in "When I'm Gone" recorded by the Carter Family back in 1931.

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Avril Lavigne celebrates staying young forever.  She also name drops celebrated band Radiohead in this mid-tempo rocker.  There is a pleasing feel of nostalgia singalong in the production by Martin Johnson of Boys Like Girls.

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Sage the Gemini is a rapper based in California.  "Gas Pedal" has become one of the biggest hit singles to emerge from the San Francisco Bay hyphy rap scene.  The song became a top 10 hit on the R&B songs chart.

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"Happy" is, as the title seems to imply, a cheerful little song by Pharrell Williams from the soundtrack to Despicable Me 2.  It has become a top 10 hit in much of Europe.  A unique element to the song's packaging is the innovative 24 hour music video.

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The featured vocalist on "True Love" is officially credited as Lily Rose Cooper, which is the married name of Lily Allen.  Pink celebrates the difficult moments in a relationship that is an example of true love.  The song is effortlessly appealing and will have listeners singing along the first time through.

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Zedd capitalized on his momentum from the hit single "Clarity" with another rousing club hit.  Along for the ride is featured vocalist Hayley Williams of rock band Paramore.  The recording helps demonstrate her versatility as a vocalist.  

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Krewella are a dance music trio based in Chicago.  "Alive" is their pop breakthrough and has become a signature hit for the group.  This summer the infectious club smash climbed into the top 10 of the mainstream pop radio chart as well as becoming a top 10 dance hit.

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Fans of the Nickelodeon hit TV show Victorious knew that Ariana Grande had a star quality voice.  This year much of the rest of the world discovered her as well. "the Way" opened in the top 10 announcing the arrival of one of the top breakout pop artists of the year.  Comparisons to early Mariah Carey recordings are appropriate.

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Former contestant Olly Murs is one of today's biggest mainstream pop artists at home in the UK.  This year he crossed the Atlantic and landed inside the mainstream pop radio top 10 with this hit. The sound owes a dept to the pop-rock of Maroon 5.  His family friendly public image has earned Olly Murs six top 10 pop hits at home in the UK.

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Lily Allen surprised fans and the music industry with the release of "Hard Out Here" late in 2013.  It is classic satire from the artist as she takes aim at female exploitation in the pop music business.  The accompanying music video remains a must see.  

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Imagine Dragons made following up the massive hit single "Radioactive" look effortless with the release of "Demons."  It is a slightly more pop oriented rock production and leaped into the pop top 10 by the end of the year.

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Joining Ariana Grande and Lorde as 17 year olds with major pop breakthroughs in 2013 is Dutch 17 year old Martin Garrix.  His mostly instrumental track "Animals" has found its way into the pop top 10 in countries around the world.

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"Burn" was almost a lost song.  It was first recorded by Leona Lewis for her album Glassheart.  The song did not make the final cut and was discarded from the project.  Ellie Goulding applied her sweet vocals to a frenetic production, and it has become one of her biggest mainstream pop hits.

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When it was first released as a promotional single for the album , Katy Perry announced that "Dark Horse" was an example of her "somewhat darker" music that would be featured on the album.  There is a similarity in feel to the #1 smash hit "E.T."  

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"Timber" is probably the first major pop hit to be heavily influenced by Avicii's experiments combining elements of country music with electronic dance music.  Despite the fact there is little original here, the upbeat combination of Pitbull and Ke$ha is irresistible and the song was an instant smash hit.

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YouTube's ability to create viral sensations has turned a few novelty songs into worldwide pop smashes.  "The Fox" by the Norwegian duo Ylvis is the biggest hit of this type this year.  The song is a clever answer to the question, "What does the fox say?"  It might have become tiring after hearing it a few times, but almost everyone smiled and laughed the first time through.

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Back in 2009 the group Panic! At the Disco split in half, and many observers wondered if the group could really survive as a successful recording unit.  This year we received "Yes!" as a resounding answer.  The group recorded some of their best music yet, and "This Is Gospel" helped announce the arrival of the album Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!

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Timothy McKenzie, aka Labrinth, is a major pop star at home in the UK.  His debut album generated four top 10 pop hits.  After a moving live performance of the song on America's Got Talent, "Beneath Your Beautiful" became a major pop hit on this side of the Atlantic.  It climbed inside the top 30 at both adult pop and mainstream pop radio.

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"22" is an indication that Taylor Swift is happy to leave her country roots behind entirely at least on some of her recordings.  Here she celebrates the joys of being "22" with pop producers Max Martin and Shellback.  The result was a top 10 adult pop hit.

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In 2013 Selena Gomez stepped out as a solo artist away from her recording group the Scene.  The result was some of the best and biggest hit music of her career.  "Come and Get It" incorporates new international sounds into the dance mix and became the star's first top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.

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Demi Lovato's appearance as a mentor on the gained acclaim for her pop music sensibilities and helped further her pop career.  Audiences were primed for this first single from the album Demi, and it promptly turned into a top 10 smash.  A key element of the record are confident, soaring vocals from the star.

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The biggest pop comeback story of the year is Justin Timberlake.  The retro soul of "Suit and Tie" displeased some of the star's pop fans, but the elegant recording seemed to foretell a wave of retro R&B music that would crash into the mainstream pop charts as the year unfolded.

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Despite a rocky year in the tabloid press, Justin Bieber released an ambitious series of 10 weekly singles called Music Mondays late in the year.  Many of the efforts were downbeat and felt like sketches of songs.  However, this final release is well worth hearing with a quirky R&B mix and an appearance from rising celebrated artist Chance the Rapper.

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Britney Spears heads into ballad territory after a series of uptempo dance oriented releases. The star says that this is among the most personal music that she is recording.  The accompanying music video received acclaim for Britney Spears' acting chops.

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L.A. based neo-soul band Fitz and the Tantrums received strong critical acclaim for their 2010 debut album Pickin' Up the Pieces.  For the second collection More Than Just a Dream the group expanded their musical palette into mainstream pop and 80s new wave influences.  The result was this quirky #1 alternative hit.

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You might listen to this record and feel like you wandered into a late 1970s episode of Soul Train.  Ariana Grande is in full soul diva mode here. Babyface co-wrote and co-produced the record giving it all an elegant sheen that makes the star sound mature well beyond her years.

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Among the biggest unexpected pop hits of 2013 is this infectious track from OneRepublic.  Seeming to borrow equally from the sound of Train and OneRepublic's own genre free approach, "Counting Stars" has hit the top 10 in most major pop markets around the world.  

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"Let Her Go" is the unassuming little record that could.  Sounding like a cross between James Blunt and Cat Stevens, singer-songwriter Passenger roared to #1 on pop singles charts around the world with this wistful little tune.  In the US he gained exposure to mainstream pop audiences by opening in concert for Ed Sheeran.

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Chvrches are a Scottish electronic pop band that first came together in 2011.  "Recover" has a quirky, kinetic feel that is quickly very infectious.  The group were one of the critical breakouts of the year.

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"People Like Us" is one of three new songs that were recorded for Kelly Clarkson's Greatest Hits collection.  It is an uptempo anthem of empowerment for everyday people.  It features the star's usual rousing vocal performance.

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Ed Sheeran continued to endear himself to adult pop audiences with this follow up to the breakthrough hit "The A Team."  It features a segment of rapid-fire vocals that point to influences of hip hop found elsewhere in his music.  The accompanying music video features Rupert Grint from the Harry Potter film series.

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Although some might turn away from the overt sexuality, Kelly Rowland's "Kisses Down Low" is one of the most unabashedly erotic hit singles of the year.  The song was co-produced and co-written by Mike Will Made It who also worked with Miley Cyrus on her album .

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Pitbull's rousing party anthem includes one of two huge featured performances by Christina Aguilera this year.  Her soaring singing on the chorus is a big part of the song's success as well as the liberal sampling of a-Ha's #1 pop hit "Take On Me" from the 1980s.

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Heading into 2013, Latin superstar Marc Anthony had not taken a single into the Billboard Hot 100 in over a decade.  The song that broke that dry spell is this Spanish language hit.  "Vivir La Vida" (Live My Life) is a Spanish language cover of the song "C'est La Vie" by Algerian singer Khaled.  "Vivir Mi Vida" won the Record of the Year Award at the Latin Grammy Awards in 2013.

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How did Robin Thicke follow up his massive #1 pop breakthrough "Blurred Lines"?  He released this irresistibly grooving single.  Robin Thicke's falsetto gets full exposure in the near a capella breakdowns in the song.  Red hot rapper Kendrick Lamar is featured in the song, and Diane Martel created another over the top video to accompany the song.

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The Arctic Monkeys made British pop history in 2013 when the album AM became the fifth consecutive collection by the group to hit #1 on the album chart.  No other act has ever accomplished that feat with albums released on an independent label.  The album received the group's strongest critical acclaim in years and became only the second by Arctic Monkeys to reach the top 10 of the US album chart.  This driving single is the first by the group to ever reach the Billboard Hot 100.

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The release of the music video accompanying "Wrecking Ball" arguably marks the peak of controversy swirling around Miley Cyrus in 2013.  The naked antics in the clip are in service of what is a rather simple pop song delivered with fiery vocal power by the star.

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Rapper Big Sean knows a woman with a broken heart is nothing to trifle with.  This rap hit is overflowing with charm in the vocals that makes the listener want to comfort Big Sean and send best wishes for future success in romantic relationships.

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"Holy Grail" is a dark brooding song, but Justin Timberlake's aching delivery of the featured vocal here makes this song irresistible.  Elements of Nirvana's legendary "Smells Like Teen Spirit" are included in the song.  "Holy Grail" has received two Grammy Award nominations.

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On "Hey Brother" Avicii digs even deeper into his combination of country music and electronic dance music.  The vocals here are delivered by Dan Tyminski who is best known for performing as part of the band Union Station with Alison Krauss.  The song is somewhat melancholy in tone, but that did not stop it from becoming another worldwide pop smash for Avicii.

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Minimalist electronic soul musician James Blake looked to Kanye West and Bon Iver's Justin Vernon for advice and inspiration in recording this first single from the project that became the Overgrown album.  The moody style takes a bit to sink in, but this is one of the most moving pop-related singles of the year.

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This breakup ballad was first featured on TV on So You Think You Can Dance.  Christina Aguilera heard the song and was instantly drawn to it.  The duo A Great Big World re-recorded the song with her vocal contributions.  The result was a massive pop hit boosted further by a live performance from the stars on the hit TV series The Voice.

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In 2010 Eminem and Rihanna had massive success when they collaborated on "Love the Way You Lie" addressing the issue of domestic violence.  Here they dive into the topic of mental illness with powerful results.  The song has turned into another #1 pop smash for the superstars.

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Naming your song "Best Song Ever" and kicking it off with a riff borrowed from the Who's legendary "Baba O'Riley" seems like a bit of a ballsy move, but it was just another chapter in the story of boy band One Direction.  The song is upbeat, energetic, and irresistible with a bit more rock than in the past.

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In retrospect it seems it was only a matter of time before Lana Del Rey's larger than life damaged pop star image made a major chart splash in the US. With the help of dance producer Cedric Gervais, her song "Summertime Sadness" added a blue tone to the season's pop playlists.  The airy dance remix seems perfectly suited to Lana Del Rey's world weary vocals.

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The combination of Calvin Harris' dance music chops and Ellie Goulding's sweet vocals on "I Need Your Love" sounds nearly as perfect as the combination of Calvin Harris and Rihanna on "We Found Love."  The accompanying music video featuring the pair as a romantic couple is a breezy gem.

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Bruno Mars says this sad reflection on a past love was one of his most difficult songs to record and sing.  The simple piano and vocal arrangement is affecting with a powerful emotional resonance from the star's singing.

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Beyonce pulled one of the biggest pop music surprises of the year when she released her self-titled fifth solo album with no advance publicity.  One of the key songs on the collection is this ode to continued romantic happiness between Beyonce and husband Jay-Z.  Among major contributors to the recording are rising producers Boots and Detail.

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Rock band Bastille are one of the breakthrough pop acts of the year around the world.  One of the primary reasons is this rousing rock anthem "Pompeii."  Including clever references to the volcanic eruption that buried the city of Pompeii, the song topped the alternative songs chart before making major inroads into mainstream pop and dance charts.

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Although it has been more than a year and a half since Phillip Phillips emerged victorious on American Idol, he has only charted with two hit singles.  However, they have been powerfully enduring hits.  "Gone Gone Gone" straddles the worlds of pop, rock, and folk effortlessly.  It has topped the adult contemporary chart and gone to the top 3 on both adult pop and rock songs charts while selling more than a million digital copies.

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One Direction dig into the folk-pop trend and come out with one of their most sincere and adult sounding songs yet.  Group members alternate lead vocals and deliver a rousing chorus with a hint of sadness.  The accompanying bittersweet music video is well worth seeing.

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Ciara's career has been dragged down by a series of disappointments, but fortunately that has not stopped her.  She returned this year with the confident and sultry "Body Party" which ranks as one of her top achievements.  It was rewarded with top 10 success on the R&B chart.

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If you think disco revivalism ends with Daft Punk, then you need to listen to British dance pop duo Disclosure.  "White Noise" digs deeper into the sounds of underground dance music from the 1980s for inspiration and peaked at #2 on the pop singles chart in the UK.  The song also features spot on vocals from Aluna Francis of the duo AlunaGeorge.  This track is a must have for any comprehensive 2013 dance playlist.

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After going to #1 as featured singer on the hit "Feel the Love" by  Rudimental, John Newman kicked his own career into high gear with this #1 UK pop hit.  With its strong Northern Soul influence, "Love Me Again" fits perfectly with the soul revivalism of 2013.

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A strong argument can still be made that this should have been a major pop smash for Mariah Carey.  The retro production is gorgeous and Miguel is a perfect vocal match for the superstar.  Somehow the song got lost in the rush of summer 2013 pop releases.  Take this opportunity to listen again and enjoy this lush addition to Mariah Carey's recorded repertoire.

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After the group went on hiatus in 2009, many observers thought it was the end for Fall Out Boy.  However, following solo projects with minimal commercial success, the band got back together and came roaring out of the blocks with this powerful rock hit.  This was the group's highest charting pop hit since 2007 and helped power the album Save Rock and Roll to #1.

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There was just something that seemed perfect about the match between Lana Del Rey's brooding vocals and Baz Luhrman's film adaptation of .  Lyrically, "Young and Beautiful" is haunting with its question, "Will you still love me when I'm no longer young and beautiful?"

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One big question for 2013 in the pop music world was whether or not Katy Perry could maintain the momentum of her massive success with singles from the album.  With the release of the catchy, engaging, empowering "Roar" it seemed like she didn't miss a step.  

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Britney Spears came out swinging with this first single from the Britney Jean album project.  It is an aggressive electronic dance mix that was perhaps just a bit too much for pop radio.  However, it is an artistic triumph laced with humor and a faux British accent.  The song climbed to #2 on the dance club chart.

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New Politics are a Danish rock band with a powerful pop sensibility.  The group opened for Fall Out Boy on their Save Rock and Roll tour and on Pink's The Truth About Love tour later in the year.  "Harlem" is a bracing slice of power pop that climbed into the top 5 on the alternative songs chart.

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Vampire Weekend debuted at #1 on the album chart this year for the second consecutive time with the new collection Modern Vampires Of the City.  "Diane Young" was the lead single and it is an arresting, noisy song that deserved crossover pop success.  

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"I'm kind of over getting told to throw my hands up in the air."  Lorde's debut hit "Royals" was no fluke.  Here on "Team" she sounds even more confident and unafraid of bucking convention in thoughful, human fashion.  Lorde is an icon for intelligent teens that think beyond shiny surfaces.

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Sara Bareilles ranks in the upper reaches of today's pop singer-songwriters.  Her songs are consistently clever and humane.  "Brave" is a perfect example.  It was the first single from the #2 charting album and hung around on pop charts for the rest of the year.  Sara Bareilles earned a Grammy Award nomination for Album Of the Year for The Blessed Unrest.

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For those Justin Timberlake fans who were disappointed by "Suit and Tie," the next single "Mirrors" restored their faith.  Beginning with a grand rock-edged fanfare, the epic length song revisits the sound of .  An extended coda on the album version is particularly memorable.  The music video was named Video Of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards.

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Eminem jumped on the year's retro bandwagon by revisiting old school rap.  He enlisted the help of legendary producer Rick Rubin and a huge sample from Billy Squier's "The Stroke" for a bracing tribute to the past. The song also pays tribute to the Beastie Boys.  "Berzerk" powered its way to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.

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Rock band The Neighbourhood are one of the major pop breakthrough acts of 2013 with the highly atmospheric hit "Sweater Weather."  The aching voice of lead singer Jesse Rutherford will instantly stick in your mind.  "Sweater Weather" topped the alternative songs chart before crossing over to mainstream pop territory.

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It's not easy to follow up a #1 debut hit with another smash, but that is exactly what hip hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis did after "Thrift Shop" became a multi-million selling chart-topping hit.  "Can't Hold Us" is a powerful, upbeat anthem that threatens to literally shake the roof.

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Selena Gomez' slightly reedy voice seems perfectly suited for the dance floor.  "Slow Down" beautifully blends her voice with contemporary electronic dance effects in a well mannered and controlled production by the Cataracs.  Naturally, the song topped the dance chart while climbing into the top 10 at mainstream pop radio.

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In the wake of disappointment over "Applause," fans and critics alike were floored by the power of Lady Gaga's collaboration with R. Kelly on "Do What U Want."  In fact the song was not slated to be a single, but overwhelming positive response caused the star to rush it out as an official single.  Lyrically, the song's exploration of personal boundaries is memorable, and that beat that opens the song never fails to excite.  This is the standout achievement from .

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On this song Drake turns away from rapping to explore, as he put it, channeling Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson.  The song is beautiful and romantic.  The spare production allows Drake's mellow singing to slowly sink in with one of the very best retro soul sounds of the year.

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Even after all of the massive commercial success and ongoing controversy, it's still possible to hear "Blurred Lines" as a clever, charming lark.  Robin Thicke's beautiful falsetto glides over the party beat while Pharrell's production insinuates itself into your brain and hips and doesn't let go.

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Who would have thought this would happen?  Rock band Paramore throw in a bit more sugar and a bracing dose of romantic happiness resulting in one of the very best pop songs of the year.  The drum figure is deliriously infectious, and everyone would love to be able to honestly sing this song to someone. This is one of the most memorable love songs of the year.

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Daft Punk proved that we finally have enough cultural distance from 1979 for pure disco to make it back to the top of the pop charts. The blending of the song's disco with the robot voices of Daft Punk at 2:20 is one of the most exciting pop moments of 2013.  Generations are bridged in a simple, elegant fashion.  Kudos to Pharrell Williams for playing a key role on two of the 10 best pop songs of the year.

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Is it possible that a love relationship can be just bent and not broken?  According to Pink it is not only possible, it matches her own personal experience.  Here she collaborates with Nate Ruess of the group fun on both songwriting and singing.  It is an unexpected match that sounds like pop perfection. Jeff Bhasker's spare, percussion heavy production gives the pair plenty of opportunity to soar vocally.

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One of the biggest ongoing news stories of 2013 was the growing success of efforts for marriage equality in the US.  Macklemore and Ryan Lewis created the song "Same Love" for the marriage equality effort in their home state of Washington, and it spread to become a major pop hit in the summer of 2013.  "Strip away the fear, underneath it's all the same love."

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Swedish DJ and dance music artist Avicii alarmed the dance music establishment when he brought country and folk musicians on stage at the Ultra Music Festival in the spring of 2013.  Many were angered, but ultimately Avicii proved he knew exactly what he was doing.  "Wake Me Up," blending folk and country instrumental elements with soulful vocals by Aloe Blacc and electronic dance music beats, became one of the biggest worldwide pop hits of the year.

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The spare production and deep, measured vocals by Lorde instantly capture your attention on her breakthrough hit "Royals."  This would be a stellar debut by any artist, but the fact that she is still a teenager creates an ever stronger sense of wonder around the record.  Lorde rewrote the image of what a teen pop star could be in 2013.

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The music of Little Mix is likely to make a few jaws drop when skeptics hear it.  The group is manufactured.  The four girls were put together by judges, but it's impossible to dismiss the pop power of a record like "Wings," and the group's debut album is remarkably consistent.  We need girl groups like this.

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Although "Wrecking Ball" stole its tabloid thunder, "We Can't Stop" is Miley Cyrus' second enduring classic following "Party In the U.S.A."  For this hit, producer Mike Will Made It has masterfully channeled barely contained generational anger into a swaying downbeat late night party song that still sounds perfect when performed acoustically on Saturday Night Live.  If you are young and yearn to be independent, Miley Cyrus has your back and has recorded your enduring theme song.

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Many of the greatest pop songs of all time have the power to make you feel good from the first seconds of the recording.  "Safe and Sound" is one of those.  There are so many things perfect about this song that sound even better with time, and Capital Cities keep it simple.  The horns are powerfully warm and inviting underlined by a keyboard figure that always makes me smile. Oh, and yes, the words are the musical equivalent of cuddling up in a blanket by the fireplace.  We all want to be "safe and sound."

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