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Ask Billboard: Readers’ Favorites Of 2013

From Taylor Swift to Rihanna to George Strait and more (including some picks from the Billboard charts department ...), a look back at the best of 2013.

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20


Thanks for all your contributions for this week’s mailbag, featuring your picks for your favorite songs, albums and more from the past year.

Let’s look back at what made 2013 musically memorable for Chart Beat readers (along with some Billboard chart department recaps, including mine!)

Hi Gary,

2013 has certainly been a great year for music! Here are my top 50 songs of the year (based on an inverse point system from my weekly top 30 chart):

50, “Figure 8,” Ellie Goulding
49, “Satisfaction Guaranteed,” Alyssa Reid
48, “Gone, Gone, Gone,” Phillip Phillips
47, “Catch My Breath,” Kelly Clarkson
46, “C’mon,” Ke$ha
45, “Stay the Night,” Zedd feat. Hayley Williams
44, “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” Drake feat. Majid Jordan
43, “I Knew You Were Trouble.,” Taylor Swift
42, “When I Was Your Man,” Bruno Mars
41, “Wrecking Ball,” Miley Cyrus
40, “Just One Last Time,” David Guetta feat. Taped Rai
39, “People Like Us,” Kelly Clarkson
38, “I Will Wait,” Mumford & Sons
37, “Running Guns,” Alyssa Reid
36, “Just Give Me a Reason,” P!nk feat. Nate Ruess
35, “Roar,” Katy Perry
34, “Same Love,” Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Mary Lambert

33, “Glowing,” Nikki Williams
32, “Feel This Moment,” Pitbull feat. Christina Aguilera
31, “Don’t You Worry Child,” Swedish House Mafia feat. John Martin
30, “Next to Me,” Emeli Sande
29, “All Night,” Icona Pop
28, “Mirrors,” Justin Timberlake
27, “Summertime Sadness,” Lana Del Rey & Cedric Gervais
26, “Counting Stars,” OneRepublic
25, “Daylight,” Maroon 5
24, “We Can’t Stop,” Miley Cyrus
23, “Heart Attack,” Demi Lovato
22, “Sweet Nothing,” Calvin Harris feat. Florence Welch
21, “Slow Down,” Selena Gomez
20, “Alive,” Krewella
19, “Lego House,” Ed Sheeran
18, “Carry On,” fun.
17, “I Need Your Love,” Calvin Harris feat. Ellie Goulding
16, “Radioactive,” Imagine Dragons
15, “Stubborn Love,” the Lumineers
14, “My Kind of Love,” Emeli Sande
13, “Safe and Sound,” Capital Cities
12, “Royals,” Lorde
11, “Love Somebody,” Maroon 5
10, “Troublemaker,” Olly Murs feat. Flo Rida
9, “Wake Me Up!,” Avicii
8, “Madness,” Muse
7, “Demons,” Imagine Dragons
6, “Brave,” Sara Bareilles
5, “Beam Me Up,” Cazette
4, “Blurred Lines,” Robin Thicke feat. T.I. & Pharrell
3, “Clarity,” Zedd feat. Foxes
2, “Burn,” Ellie Goulding

1, “I Love It,” Icona Pop feat. Charli XCX

Happy Holidays from Boston!

Brian Brostek

B-A-ST (-ILLE) OF 2013

Hi Gary,

Here are my top 20 songs of the year:

20, “Sitting Still,” Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs
19, “Unbelievers,” Vampire Weekend
18, “Hero,” Family of the Year
17, “Carry On,” fun.
16, “Ooh La La,” Britney Spears
15, “Sirens,” Pearl Jam
14, “Team,” Lorde
13, “Wrecking Ball,” Miley Cyrus
12, “I Knew You Were Trouble.,” Taylor Swift
11, “San Francisco,” the Mowgli’s
10, “The Mother We Share,” Chvrches
9, “Sweater Weather,” the Neighbourhood
8, “The Wire,” HAIM
7, “Just Give Me a Reason,” P!nk feat. Nate Ruess
6, “Blurred Lines,” Robin Thicke feat. T.I. & Pharrell
5, “Pure Imagination,” Fiona Apple
4, “Elephant,” Tame Impala
3, “Get Lucky,” Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams
2, “I Love You,” Said the Whale

1, “Pompeii,” Bastille


Dave Baskind
Saginaw, Michigan

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20



For most of 2013, I did not see a single concert, but oddly enough, in a glorious October and November, I saw four amazing shows.

First, I saw Blondie perform in the band’s hometown of New York City, with one of my best friends, Shawn, at one of the last performances for the famed Roseland Ballroom. Blondie and opening band X were fantastic, and at 68 years young, Debbie Harry rocked that stage! Blondie played songs from its upcoming album, “Ghosts of Download,” which I’m sure will be on my favorites list of 2014.

Not long after that show, I introduced my sister Rose to Dave Wakeling and the English Beat, performing in Portland, Maine, for the fourth time since 2009. A great time had by all!

Eight days later, Rose and I ventured out on our second concert trip together, making the eight-hour roundtrip to see Cyndi Lauper in Lebanon, N.H., on her 30th anniversary tour for “She’s So Unusual.” It was great fun watching Cyndi perform songs I never thought I’d get to see live, such as “Witness,” “I’ll Kiss You” and her cover of Prince’s “When You Were Mine.” Cyndi, now 60 and coming off her Tony Award win for “Kinky Boots,” was sensational as ever.

In November, I had the privilege of seeing Molly Ringwald – yeah, that Molly Ringwald – perform in Bangor, Maine’s lovely Gracie Theatre in support of her 2013 jazz album, “Except Sometimes” (also on my favorites list this year). Molly and her quartet were wonderful and incredibly talented, and to hear her perform Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” was kind of a surreal moment, considering my love for the films of John Hughes.

Also, at the beginning of the year, I had the honor of interviewing They Might Be Giants‘ John Flansburgh, who had some fun stories about subjects from Bob Dylan to cover songs (with their “Nanobots” album a favorite of mine).

As for other music, I was very pleased with the success of Lorde‘s “Royals” (my top song for 2013) and “Out of My League” by Fitz and the Tantrums. Such a great song!

Thank you, Gary, for all you do, and best wishes for a chart-worthy 2014!

Ron Raymond, Jr.
Host/Producer, “Stuck in the 80s”
Portland, Maine



I love fans’ lists like these. Every year I read about a song or artist that I had never heard of and get tuned in to music I may not have been exposed to before.

In that spirit, rather than sending in my year-end favorites, I’d actually like to submit a list of some of my favorite recent singles that really didn’t have the exposure on Billboard charts that I feel they deserved.

In no particular order …

“Guardian,” Alanis Morissette
“Keep Your Eyes Open,” Needtobreathe
“Kiss Me Slowly,” Parachute
“War,” Ahmir
“Alive,” Krewella

“Odds Are,” Barenaked Ladies
“Changes,” Chubby Checker
“Beneath Your Beautiful,” Labrinth feat. Emeli Sande

Looking forward to 2014!

Tom Eash
Phoenix, Arizona

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20


Hey there, Gary!

I was a regular in’s comments section before it was removed and I was, well … very vocal with my opinions there. So, here are my top 10 songs of 2013 (with some more opinions):

10, “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” Drake
9, “Royals,” Lorde
8, “Girl on Fire,” Alicia Keys. I have an interesting relationship with this song: I think it’s ridiculous and cliché, and I still love it. It’s so hopeful and uplifting that I ultimately couldn’t resist it.
7, “Locked Out of Heaven,” Bruno Mars
6, “Summertime Sadness,” Lana Del Rey & Cedric Gervais
5, “Die Young,” Ke$ha
4, “Just Give Me a Reason,” P!nk feat. Nate Ruess
3, “The Way,” Ariana Grande feat. Mac Miller
2, “Try,” P!nk

1, “I Knew You Were Trouble.,” Taylor Swift. This is the song that made me start approaching her music more. Because of its dance/pop package, I found that I loved so many of her other songs, introducing me further to a great artist.

Austin F.



My favorite singles of 2013:

15, “Mirrors,” Justin Timberlake
14, “Do What U Want,” Lady Gaga feat. R. Kelly
13, “The Monster,” Eminem feat. Rihanna
12, “Treasure,” Bruno Mars
11, “I Want Crazy,” Hunter Hayes
10, “Roar,” Katy Perry
9, “When I Was Your Man,” Bruno Mars
8, “What Now,” Rihanna
7, “Gorilla,” Bruno Mars
6, “Pour It Up,” Rihanna
5, “We Can’t Stop,” Miley Cyrus
4, “Locked Out of Heaven,” Bruno Mars
3, “Just Give Me a Reason,” P!nk feat. Nate Ruess
2, “Stay,” Rihanna feat. Mikky Ekko

1, “Diamonds,” Rihanna


Harold Galac

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20


Hi Gary,

Here are my picks for the best of 2013:

Top 15 albums:
15, “Killer,” Sharon Doorson
14, “Party Never Ends,” Inna
13, “Side Effects of You,” Fantasia
12, “Speak a Little Louder,” Diane Birch
11, “Lift Your Spirit,” Aloe Blacc
10, “Loved Me Back to Life,” Celine Dion
9, “To Dust,” Alice Russell
8, “Closer to the Truth,” Cher
7, “Mind the Gap,” Nabiha
6, “Reset,” Tina Arena
5, “Connection,” the Green Children
4, “ARTPOP,” Lady Gaga
3, “Utopia,” Kerli
2, “The Shocking Miss Emerald,” Caro Emerald

1, “In a Tidal Wave of Mystery,” Capital Cities

Top 10 songs:
10, “We Got the Power,” Loreen
9, “Timber,” Pitbull feat. Ke$ha
8, “Burn,” Ellie Goulding
7, “Possessed,” the Green Children
6, “Tangled Up,” Caro Emerald
5, “Sirens,” Cher
4, “Here and Now,” Kerli
3, “Do What U Want,” Lady Gaga feat. R. Kelly
2, “Wake Me Up!,” Avicii
1, “Safe and Sound,” Capital Cities

Mark D. Kilinsky
Florence, South Carolina


Dear Gary,

Two favorite music events from 2013:

1, On Nov. 6, George Strait received his third CMA Entertainer of the Year award (having first won it back in 1989 and 1990). George is retiring from touring, although not from recording, and the CMA felt that he should be honored with the award one last time. As of 2014, the Cowboy Rides Away.

2, After 16 years of being eligible, Daryl Hall and John Oates were finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with the ceremony set for April 10, 2014. I’ve been a Hall & Oates fan for a very long time (I turned 8 years old the week “Sara Smile” entered the Hot 100’s top 40!), and this is such a very deserving honor for the top-charting duo of the rock era.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Lisa Curry
Beachwood, New Jersey

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20


Hi Gary!

Muzicbuff here and I have my faves of 2013.

Top Songs:
1, “Sun,” Belinda Carlisle
2, “Remix (I Like The),” New Kids on the Block
3, “Wings,” Little Mix
4, “Turn Up the Radio,” Madonna
5, “Let It Go,” Levi Kreis
6, “Cuckoo,” Adam Lambert
7, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” Aiden James
8, “Candy,” Robbie Williams
9, “Change Begins With Me (The OUTmusic Remix),” Matt Zarley
10, “Almost Home,” Mariah Carey
11, “Long Distance,” Melanie Amaro
12, “Don’t Rush,” Kelly Clarkson feat. Vince Gill
13, “Silver Lining,” Lee DeWyze
14, “Gone, Gone, Gone,” Phillip Phillips
15, “Catch My Breath,” Kelly Clarkson
16, “Woman’s World,” Cher
17, “Are You Messin’ Around (Remix),” Carol Medina
18, “Just Give Me a Reason,” Pink feat. Nate Ruess
19, “Rock and Roll Love Affair (Original Radio Edit),” Prince
20, “Believe in Me,” Bonnie Tyler
21, “Suit & Tie (Aeroplane Vocal Remix),” Justin Timberlake
22, “Move in the Right Direction (Radio Edit),” Gossip
23, “Better With You,” Kris Allen
24, “Lemonade,” Rachel Crow
25, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” Taylor Swift
26, “Little Things (Radio Edit),” One Direction
27, “Leaving (Single Mix),” Pet Shop Boys
28, “Let’s Have a Kiki,” Scissor Sisters
29, “See You Again,” Carrie Underwood
30, “Don’t Fail Me Now,” Melanie Amaro
31, “Live While We’re Young,” One Direction
32, “Wait By the Water,” Casey Stratton
33, “Vocal (Radio Edit),” Pet Shop Boys
34, “Just a Fool,” Christina Aguilera feat. Blake Shelton

35, “Magnetized (Single Version),” Johnny Hates Jazz
36, “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” Guy Sebastian
37, “Walks Like Rihanna,” the Wanted
38, “Broken,” David Archuleta
39, “Get Out,” Casey Abrams
40, “Try,” P!nk

Top Albums:
1, Levi Kreis, “Imagine Paradise”
2, One Direction, “Midnight Memories”
3, Celine Dion, “Loved Me Back to Life”
4, Lee Dewyze, “Frames”
5, Cher, “Closer to the Truth”
6, New Kids on the Block, “10”
7, Bonnie Tyler, “Rocks and Honey”
8, David Archuleta, “No Matter How Far”
9, Backstreet Boys, “In a World Like This”
10, Johnny Hates Jazz, “Magnetized”
11, Taylor Swift, “Red”
12, P!nk, “The Truth About Love”
13, Katy Perry, “PRISM”
14, Tina Arena, “Reset”

15, Pet Shop Boys, “Electric”
16, Elton John, “The Diving Board”
17, Garth Brooks, “Melting Pot”
18, Avicii, “True”
19, The Overtones, “Higher”
20, Emblem3, “Nothing to Lose”

Top Artists:
1, Pet Shop Boys
2, One Direction
3, Kelly Clarkson
4, Carrie Underwood
5, P!nk
6, Mariah Carey   
7, Adam Lambert

8, Bruno Mars
9, Justin Timberlake
10, Taylor Swift

This year brought a lot of surprises, especially my No. 1 song by Belinda Carlisle. Here’s hoping 2014 has even more surprises!

Dave “Muzicbuff” Geib
Wheeling, Illinois

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20


10, Madonna, “MDNA World Tour” DVD/CD, from her 2012 world tour
Following her “Confessions” and “Sticky & Sweet” tour retrospectives, another compelling listen and a uniquely-Madonna visual spectacle.

9, Inna, “Party Never Ends” album
The moody “INNDiA” and bouncy “J’adore” showcase the Romanian star’s special vocal/dance talents.

8, Pet Shop Boys, “Electric” album
Produced by Stuart Price, it’s their most cohesive and danceable album in a long time; sounds almost like a remix, but no remixes are required.

7, Tori Amos, “Flavor” (Peter Rauhofer Club Mix)
The last Dance Club Songs No. 1 from the late DJ was the rare remixed Amos track, a true treat for fans of both artists.

6, Armik, “Flames of Love” album
While it’s slower and perhaps not as sunny as some of his efforts, every album from the flamenco virtuoso is a joyous celebration of life and love, melting anxiety away with tropical melodies.

5, Depeche Mode, “Delta Machine” album and tour
Stand-out tracks “Welcome to My World,” “Alone” and “Soothe My Soul” power the trio’s latest set, which contributed led to another concert triumph.

4, Mark Knight, “Your Love” single
Dark, mystery-laden journey (known formerly as “Can’t Get You Out of My Head”).

3, Selena Gomez, “Slow Down” single
Pure pop fun.

2, Douglas Greed, “When a Man Sings on a Track” single
A house song with a sense of humor.

1, Disclosure feat. AlunaGeorge, “White Noise” single
Crazy-catchy freestyle-influenced summer fun.

Gordon Murray (@GordonJMurray)
Billboard dance charts manager

2013 RAP-UP

My favorite albums!

10, Charli XCX, “True Romance”
9, the Underachievers, “Indigoism”
8, Toro Y Moi, “Anything in Return”
7, Drake, “Nothing Was the Same”
6, Tyler, the Creator, “Wolf”
5, Laura Mvula, “Sing to the Moon”
4, Rhye, “Woman”
3, Disclosure, “Settle”
2, Chance the Rapper, “Acid Rap”

1, Kanye West, “Yeezus”
And honorable mentions, because … why not?
Bilal, “A Love Surreal”
James Blake, “Overgrown”
Jake Bugg, “Jake Bugg”
DJ Koze, “Amygdala”
Daft Punk, “Random Access Memories”
AlunaGeorge, “Body Music”
Oneohtrix Point Never, “R Plus Seven”
Pusha T, “My Name Is My Name”
Jessy Lanza, “Pull My Hair Back”
Robert Glasper Experiment, “Black Radio 2”
Shy Girls, “Timeshare”
Lorde, “Pure Heroine”
Blood Orange, “Cupid Deluxe”
Earl Sweatshirt, “Doris”

William Gruger (@wGruger)
Billboard social charts manager


My five favorite singles of 2013:

5, Deitrick Haddon, “Have Your Way.” The strong message and Haddon’s pleading vocal performance make this his best single effort to date.

4, Eric Paslay, “Friday Night.” One of the bright stars on the country horizon, to be sure. One to watch in 2014.

3, Mandisa, “Overcomer.” She’s a monster talent, and finally got a monster hit.

2, Easton Corbin, “All Over the Road.” This spring/summer hit made country radio sizzle during the (ah …) warm months.

1, Hezekiah Walker, “Every Praise.” The veteran artist’s biggest radio hit to date. Simple, powerful message.

Wade Jessen
Billboard senior chart manager, country, bluegrass, Christian, gospel

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20


A holiday assortment of personal favorites from 2013!

Top Albums:
5, The Strange Familiar, “Surrender” (EP)
4, Liz Longley, “Liz Longley”
3, Plumb, “Need You Now”

2, HAIM, “Days Are Gone”
1, Myla Smith, “Hiding Places.” Featured in Billboard’s “Bubbling Under” spotlight in September, melodic folk/pop singer/songwriter Smith said of her third album, “I’m excited by the idea that ‘Hiding Places’ will be a lot of people’s introduction to my music, because I think it’s probably the most complete expression of who I am as an artist. I tried hard to make every song one that people could connect with, which forced me to be really honest.”

Top Concerts:
5, The Strange Familiar, Rockwood Music Hall, New York
4, Liz Longley, The Living Room, New York
3, Plumb, Highline Ballroom, New York
2, Pet Shop Boys, House of Blues, Boston
1, Eagles, Madison Square Garden, New York. How obsessed did I become with the rock-doc “History of the Eagles”? After my brother and I hiked the Grand Canyon this summer (and survived the 16.5-mile odyssey to the Colorado River and back … in 100-degree August heat – smart planning!), I successfully lobbied for us to reroute our trip just a bit, all so I could truthfully say that I was … “standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona …”

Favorite Chart Beat stories:
10, Singer/songwriter Sarah J recounts teaching music lessons in the Amazon
9, Top 40 slows down the songs
8, Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” remains No. 1 on the all-time Billboard Hot 100
7, The Alternative Songs chart celebrates its 25th anniversary
6, Independently-owned, locally-focused radio stations WMVY, WATD and KZIA thrive

5, Lisa Loeb recreates her “Stay” video at Billboard’s NYC offices
4, 96-year-old Fred Stobaugh becomes the senior-most artist ever to appear on the Hot 100, reaching No. 42 with “Oh Sweet Lorraine,” a tribute to his late wife
3, Songwriter Rick Nowels discusses his quarter-century-plus of hits, from Belinda Carlisle to Lana Del Rey
2, How house concerts are one of the most rewarding ways that artists can sustain, and build, careers in the craft they love
1, On Hava Nagila

Favorite non-musical (Boston sports fan’s) story:
1, Red Sox win first World Series at Fenway Park in 95 years!

And … back to the music …

Top Songs:
20, “Lyin’ Eyes (Live),” the Eagles
19, “Mea Culpa,” Aimee Mann
18, “It’s Happening (Live at Billboard),” Karmina
17, “The Wire,” HAIM
16, “Forever,” HAIM
15, “Don’t Save Me,” HAIM
14, “Bad Habit,” Liz Longley
13, “Gone,” the Strange Familiar
12, “Running If You Call My Name,” HAIM
11, “Follow,” Myla Smith
10, “Dreamers,” Savoir Adore
9, “Just Go,” Richard Marx
8, “Take It Easy  (Live),” the Eagles
7, “One Drop,” Plumb
6, “Strange Bird,” Shaylee Simeone
5, “Sun,” Belinda Carlisle
4, “Outta My Head,” Liz Longley
3, “Can’t Say No,” Myla Smith
2, “Falling,” HAIM

1, “Slow Down,” Myla Smith

As we take a wrecking ball to 2013 … as always, thanks for sending emails and Tweets into Chart Beat all year. Billboard charts, of course, belong to music fans everywhere, so writing about them wouldn’t be anywhere near as fun – or informative – without you.

Keep ’em coming, and here’s to a monster ’14!