Thursday, 12 December 2013

Top 113 Songs of 2013, #10 - 1

#10. Around Here
by Thelma Plum

I'm gonna keep on walking,
'Cos I've been walking for days. 

Thelma Plum's Rosie EP was one of the best of 2013. Every track had a beautiful quality that made you want to hear more and more from Thelma. Most tracks were of a sunny disposition, featuring the sweet and soulful Aussie twang that has made so many listeners fall for Plum's music. 'Around Here' is one of those tracks. What sets it apart from the others is of course the ending singalong which I personally feel is one of the best singalongs of all time. This has nothing to do with the track prominently featuring one of my favourite words. Maybe it does a little. Maybe it does a lot. It doesn't happen all that much these days, but if I ever feel down, I know this is a song I'll go to for a mood adjustment. It's a big dose of musical sunshine for those cloudy days. La di da di da di da da... You know the rest. (Matt Bond)

It was earlier in the year, Matt and I were chatting on the phone when he told me I had to do something. Find Thelma Plum, he said. I didn’t take him literally but I did sit down at my laptop and google. How glad I was we had that conversation, for I stumbled across an artist who I now can’t imagine living without. ‘Around Here’ is the opener to Thelma’s incredible six track EP Rosie, and what a start it is. An acoustic escapade, it’s a song that takes you far away from the very first notes; “I’m gonna keep on walking, 'cause I been walking for days” and I feel like I’m on a journey of wonder with xylophone and drums and keys and Thelma’s sweet voice to keep me company. This is one of those songs that I can listen to for instant happiness, it’s like a smile in my ipod as soon as it starts I can’t help but wait for the best singalong ever. It’s at the end. If you haven’t heard it, you must. If you haven’t sung along, you haven’t lived. (Jo Michelmore)

“Cos everything that once felt real does not feel anymore.” I love these lyrics. I was in a car the first time I heard this track. I was nodding along in to the song stuck in traffic thinking how sweet Thelma Plum’s voice is. Her very Australian lilt is always refreshing to my ears amidst Aussies trying to sound like they come from somewhere else. When the chorus hit with the f bomb I laughed out loud. Thelma hit the perfect contrast here. I don’t think she is trying to shock or be streetwise cool with her use of expletives. She is just telling it like it is. It wasn’t too long before I was singing the catchy chorus at the top of my voice in the car along with her. I think it was around then that I noticed the driver in the car next to me looking at me strangely. I just smiled and waved as he shook his head at me. In retrospect I should have rolled down the window and yelled, “Listen to this!”

I am surprised that this song didn’t have an accompanying video to go with it. There is however a fantastic clip where Thelma sings the song live on a Melbourne public transport as part of Tram Sessions. So that pretty much satisfied my need for visuals for this little indie pop/folk gem. (Lou Endicott)

At Bigsound this year I waited 10 minutes in a line outside the Black Bear Lodge to see Thelma. As I was losing hope I’d get in a shining beacon of light in the form of a staff member came out and collected all ‘Media’ waiting to review or photograph. I wasn’t official media but I jumped in, flashed my camera and was handed a lifeline. As I fought my way up the crowed stairs I was met with an angry ocean of people not wanting to let me anywhere near the front but I swallowed my fear and pulled out my secret weapon. With a smile plastered on my dial I began firing, “SORRY”, “APOLOGIES”, “EXCUSE ME PLEASE” and somehow I made it three bodies from the front.

One of my fave songs from the fifteen minutes I experienced was this one. Thelma aims to hit those ‘feely’ nerves right on the ouchy spot in ‘Around Here’ and she does so endearingly. Her words are humble but direct (which kinda sums up her style in general) and the tune is sweet and infectious. Watching her perform is beautiful as she coyly lets a smile flash, “La, di da, di da, di da da, fuck you” bringing her out from underneath the self-doubting tone of the song.

She surely is one of Australia’s most promising new performers possessing joy and wonder of musicians like Emiliana Torrini and the sass of Lily Allen. An interesting combination though one that works. I’m enjoying following her journey to the top and I hope she’s in our top ten again next year. (Nayt Housman)

I love a cheeky bit of swearing, which this song delivers, along with the opportunity for hand clapping for good measure. Yep – the “la-di-da-di-da-di-da-da... f**k you!” part of ‘Around Here’ is my absolute favourite bit. This song sounds completely sweet and innocent right up until that point. Would we call this folk? I’m not sure; I’m the worst when it comes to labels. Whatever it is, it’s unpretentious, honest, and I love it. (Katie Langley)

#9. The Courtship of Summer Preasley
by The Griswolds

Poor little rich girl, poor little rich girl,
Bumming me out. 

So Jo and I were out the other night after Stereosonic had finished and as you can imagine the crowds were over inflated, over saturated and over bottle bronzed bimbos and himbos who loudly proclaim words such as, “No one goes to festivals for the music.” This is the brush I had tarred The Griswolds with before I’d ever seen them and I don’t know exactly but maybe they don’t do festivals for the music BUT their music suggests they’d have experience on both sides of that fence.


‘The Courtship Of Summer Preasley’ epitomises their ‘modern Beach Boys’ vibe and youthful fervour with the boys chirping about over indulged and carefree lifestyles. There is a delightful cynicism to their tale of falling for the “Regina George” type of girl and finding out that the girl ain’t all that or the bag of chips. “Why would you open up to me that way, is small talk too hard for you?” is telling of a man’s fear of coming on too strong. So whether it was their intension this upbeat, summery ‘beach-punk’ provides some interesting social commentary as well as being just super fun to dance too. (Nayt Housman)

It's the drums. Those rolling, beating drums get me up and ready for an adventure. To the beach, to the mountains, it could just be to 7-11 to get a Krispy Kreme donut. It doesn't matter where I'm going, but wherever it is, 'The Courtship of Summer Preasley' is going to soundtrack my adventure. Because you know a gem like this can only lead to good times, some fun in the sun, some interpretive dancing or a party you'll never forget. The Griswolds have given us some crazy rides you don't want to end, but it's 'The Courtship of Summer Preasley' that stands out as one of the greatest songs of the year. Now that the Sydney-siders are signed to a 5 album (!) Wind-up records deal in the US, we can expect a debut album sooner than later. This can only mean even more good times ahead for all of us from these 'tequila-inspired party pop champions. (Matt Bond)

This song has the flavour of the summer sun soaked well through it. And it’s not just the title. The dreamy guitar, the falsetto vocals and bouncy happy rhythm have me thinking of BBQs, beers and big straw hats. 'The Courtship of Summer Preasley' is reminiscent of early Vampire Weekend in its upbeat almost frivolous rock sensibilities. In my books, this is a very good thing. I can’t help but want to bop along merrily and sip an icy cocktail (little umbrella garnish mandatory). The only drawback is that the song is perhaps too short in length. Or maybe that’s a good thing as I am left wanting more. The Griswolds are truly making splashes with their brand of happy pop rock and I look forward to seeing what they are up to in 2014. (Lou Endicott)

Oh just stop it. Stop it Griswolds. The courtship of Summer Preasley? Let’s talk about the courtship of me. You cannot possibly write a pop song this good, write a song this catchy, write a song this adorable and not expect me to fall in love with it. You’re the ones who sing it; “I have fallen for your spell”, well, yes indeed. I’ve fallen and I’ve fallen totally. The drums sucked me in, the bass grabbed me by the neck, the falsetto vocal turned my head and made me listen and the guitars finished it all off so nicely I barely knew what happened. I’ve been to numerous Griswolds gigs and this is the one, this is the song that everyone waits for. When those drums start, the room lights up, the hipsters can’t control themselves, the audience comes alive and it’s so much fun to watch, even more fun to be a part of. It makes me want to jump in the sun, jump in a car, jump on the street and dance with a stranger. How do you do that? I don’t really know, but the courtship has been totally delightful. Happy to be courted, happy to be caught in the spell and even happier to know the rest of the world is falling for your catchy pop ways right now as well. (Jo Michelmore)

#8. Do I Wanna Know
by Arctic Monkeys

I'm sorry to interrupt,
It's just I'm constantly on the cusp of trying to kiss you,
I don't know if you feel the same as I do. 

The sexiest song of 2013. What more needs to be said? Alright, fine... I'll stop being lazy. Alex Turner and fwends have outdone themselves with 'Do I Wanna Know'. You've got to admit, it's not the norm these days to be calling a classic sounding rock track sleek and seductive, but how else could you describe 'Do I Wanna Know'? Many of us have acknowledged Alex Turner's ability to put in a smooth performance every now and then, but this is on another level. Remember man readers, if you want to get the ladies all hot under the collar (whatever that means), this is where it's at. Flume might be your new mandated triple J fave, but it don't mean a thing if you ain't got that swing. I'm not too sure what 'swing' is, but you just know Arctic Monkeys have it. I can't believe these guys just keep on getting better. (Matt Bond)

Godamn I love rock music. I love guitars. I love bass. I love drums. I love handclaps. I love I love the sounds, I love the feeling. The Arctic Monkeys, they know how to rock. They know how to turn a beat into a beat and guitar and make a sound that forces your head to swing back and forward. They know how to take that beat and that guitar and add a bass line that moves your foot up and down, that sends a feeling up your legs, past your knees and straight to move. They take those sounds and they add some words, some words that send a shiver of desire straight up your spine; “do I wanna know if this feeling flows both ways” and they smash it all together into a song that screams in a hot, sexy way that only rock music does. I love it all and I love it when a band can take rock and strip it back, take so much away it’s almost painful, the anticipation of sound and the feeling of expectation is almost enough to make a girl uncomfortable. I love a rock band that know the light is as strong as the heavy and the waiting for what’s to come is a that feeling that only rock music creates. It’s primal, it’s powerful and it’s perfect, just like the Arctic Monkeys. (Jo Michelmore)

‘Do I Wanna Know’ has all the hallmarks of an Artic Monkeys song. That cute English accent and oh-so familiar guitar riffs. Unlike some of their other material, this song is much less rah-rah-rah. It’s slower, allowing for lots of foot tapping and slow swigs of whiskey. Feels like a whiskey song, right? (Katie Langley)

Boom crash, boom crash, guitar wails… The sexy intro to this song followed by the vocals is as smooth as any Franz Ferdinand song. The hint of punk attitude and male swagger of “Do I Wanna Know” surely has won the hearts (and ears) of many an indie darling with its sass and pounding beat. Perhaps if the Beatles had had more of a chance to jam out before tragedy put a reunion off the cards, this dirty rock would have been up their alley. There is definitely a hint of influence of 'Come Together' and 'I Want You (She’s So Heavy)' in the rhythm of this song.  

The Arctic Monkeys take on a brooding sound and suddenly I’m listening. I’ve never disliked them but never been compelled to listen to them outside of what was playing on the radio. ‘Do I Wanna Know’ changes the story.

Like Ngaiire’s ‘Around’ this is one of those questioning songs and in this instance questioning an apparent burgeoning relationship. What I wanna know though is how many of these relationship songs are actually about people? I have a tendency to personify inanimate objects and situations, which may be due to my more ‘sensitive’ disposition. However for some reason I get the feeling this isn’t about a person as such but maybe more situational. For whatever reason I get this inkling, I rather enjoy the thought. I also enjoy the real sexual feeling the music has, the beat is the heart, the guitar is the emotion that drives a “come hither” look and Alex Turner’s vocals which suddenly (for me) feel sultry and compelling, suggest his desperate attempt at wooing back the subject without the even needing to know the lyrics.

I love it so much and those are never words I’d thought would leave my brain in regards to Arctic Monkeys. (Nayt Housman)

It’s only recently that I started listening to this band and I’m glad I have. It’s the kind of music to put on when you want to feel just a little badass (which is surprisingly a fun thing to feign for hard for this rainbow-loving-fairy-pixie-child). (Lou Endicott)

#7. Recover
by Chvrches

I'll give you one more chance to say,
We can change our old ways,
And you take what you need, and you know you don't need me. 

‘Recover’ seems like it’s asking a question to which Lauren Mayberry already knows the answer to. In all its synthy glory, she’s offering up one last chance to make it work, even though she knows it’s all going to come to an end anyway. “So pick any number, choose any colour, I’ve got the answer, open the envelope.” They could leave it to chance and see what a paper fortune teller says, but that would be a little childish. I do love the reference to a paper fortune teller though and it shows there’s still new ways of telling these same old stories. Chvrches delivered on all the hype surrounding them and ‘Recover’ played a huge part in that. There’s a great story and killer vocals, but it’s also straight up amazing synth pop. It’ll take me awhile to recover from the impact Chvrches have had on me. That was a terrible, terrible line and I am very sorry. Give me one more chance to make up for it? (Matt Bond) 

Sometimes it’s really hard to write on this blog. Sometimes, trying to describe a song or a band can be some of the hardest parts of the day. What do you say about a song that is just part of your life, part of who you are, that is no longer something in the background, something to pass by, but something that describes a part of your life, that defines a little of your time. I love the world we live in, where one band leads to another band who leads to another and another so quickly. It was early in the year I was first introduced to all of the wonder that is Chvrhces, via another electronic dream pop fave of mine, Curxes, who remixed ‘Recover’ for the Recover EP. I fell under its spell quickly and hard, and I haven’t stopped loving it since, all these months later. The synths and beats of Iain Cook and Martin Doherty are all encompassing, the ebb and flow and layering of sounds are absolutely spellbinding and when Lauren Mayberry sings those lines “and you take what you need
and you know you don't need me”, a little part of my musical soul is completely and totally satisfied. Sometimes, writing for a music blog is really, really hard. But sometimes, when you discover music like this while looking for music you love to share with the world, writing for a music blog is probably the best thing in the world. Welcome to what is probably my favourite song on this countdown and when I think of 2013, this is the band I’ll be taking with me into every year ahead. (Jo Michelmore)

You know how sometimes a song reminds you of a movie? Maybe it’s just the sounds, maybe it’s the lyrics, it might be the visuals or it could be a combination of some or all of these. When I listen to ‘Recover’ I think of the movie A.I. with the android boy David, the Teddy Bear and the Proz-bot. I even look at the lyrics and can connect them with the story line. It’s definitely the combo of the spacey vid, the child like voice (kinda like a little robot boy if you stretch the imagination) and especially the opening lyrics “Carved earth, cold, hiding from you in this skin, so old, I’ll come clean, everywhere everyone knows it’s me.” That’s robot talk if I ever heard it.

Recover continues the beautiful 80s inspired pop revival, seemingly taking cues from the likes of Goldfrapp’s ‘Head First’ album that was to be one of the forerunners of the 80s revival several years ago. Heavy, rolling, very digital sounding synth belies the sweet, yet robotic vocals chanting “I’ll give you one, more, chance, to say we can change, or, part, ways” Beep beep bop boop baaaaaaaaaaah. Chvrches know what they do well and ‘Recover’ challenges their piers to an 80s battle with good odds in their favour. I’ll put $100 on Chvrches thanks bookie. *Note. I do not condone or encourage gambling. Stop judging me.* (Nayt Housman)

‘Recover’ is synth pop at its absolute finest. Rightly or wrongly listening to this song makes me want to lay by the pool with a fruity cocktail. Let’s say rightly, because cocktails by the pool is never a bad thing. (Katie Langley)

It’s like *Rainbow Brite grew up and lives in a space ship and sings songs to fuel up the ship. This is not me making fun of this song. In fact, I love the squelchy girly glossy techno fun of this track. And the electronic claps half way through mean I can listen to this song with kids and tell them stories of my childhood and a cartoon characters that I wanted to be as they clap along. Sorry. I am amusing myself too much here. “Recover” is a fun track that gets the driving groove on and totally gets stuck in the head. But I can’t take it too seriously. And I don’t think it needs to be taken seriously. This song is good fun and once again is smack on the trend I am loving with 80s synthy bits and catchy vocals.  

*for those not of my vintage Rainbow Brite was an ultra cute very camp cartoon from the early 80s. Her and her white horse Starlite were pretty much my heroes (around the age of 6). (Lou Endicott)

#6. Q.U.E.E.N
by Janelle Monae ft. Erykah Badu

I heard this life is just a play with no rehearsal,
I wonder will this be my final act tonight? 

Janelle Monae pushed boundaries on The Electric Lady, exploring new genres while having a lot of fun along the way. Her greatest achievement on the criminally underrated album was 'Q.U.E.E.N', which breathed new life into the iconic Erykah Badu, admirably showed off the new direction and exciting talents of Monae and set the lower half of music listener's around the world to twerk. And aren't those funk guitars just too hot to handle? When I reviewed The Electric Lady, I was deeply in love with 'Q.U.E.E.N' and that hasn't changed a bit. I might even love it more. Here's what I wrote:

Original review: ‘Q.U.E.E.N’ combines psychedelic soul, funk and the most memorable rap of 2013 as Monáe teams up with another icon and influence on her sound, Erykah Badu. When you think of a song that ‘has it all’, you should think of ‘Q.U.E.E.N’. An empowering anthem encased in a booty-shaking monster of a track, you won’t be able to resist it and why would you want to? Badu’s smouldering reminder that, “the booty don’t lie,” leads into the multi-tasking Monáe taking a stand, raising a call to arms and spitting out some defiant rhymes. “Yeah, keep singing and I’mma keep writing songs, I’m tired of Marvin asking me what’s going on, march to the streets ‘cause I’m willing and I’m able, categorise me, I defy every label.” (Matt Bond)

I haven’t always worn my love of r’n’b on my sleeve. Everyone thinks I’m a rock chick, a blues chick without the rhythm bit at the front. Here’s the secret. I was raised on music and part of the music my parents were smart enough to play me were the sound of soul, the sounds of motown and funk and r’n’b. The grooves of bass, the vocal harmonies and gymnastics of soul queens of the past are ones close to my heart. So with that in mind, let me say this; it’s almost embarrassing writing about a song like Q.U.E.E.N. and an artist like Janelle Monae. Why? Because when the sounds are this good, I feel almost amateur, what would I know about someone so talented and a song so very, very good? Janelle Monae is a genius amongst artists that do what they do well, but Ms Monae does r’n’b like no one else is at the moment, or has for a very, very long time. She has the ability to take a song and turn it into an experience, take a sound and turn it into a groove. She has the ability to hide a song about those who feel like outsiders inside a dance groove, so that only the ones who need it know. When people talk of the greats, they mention names like Grace Knight, Prince, Stevie Wonder. Soon enough, they’ll be mentioning Janelle Monae in that pile of artists, because with songs like ‘Q.U.E.E.N. she deserves all the accolades she can get. Give her a goddamn crown, she IS the queen. So as someone who writes about music every week, what would I know about an artist like Janelle Monae? I know this. When the bass line starts, I move. When the synths kick in, I smile. When the beats are pumping, my heart skips a beat. When the sounds of Janelle Monae are around. Stop. Listen. Dance. That’s what I know and that’s enough. (Jo Michelmore)

But we eat wangs and throw them bones on the ground” has to be the best line of the song. I mean who else could pull off those lyrics while still remaining serious about the social views they’re wearing on their sleeve? No one else is who! Well actually I’m sure there are others but Janelle just remains so classy while expressing humour and making poignant statements. Janelle is possibly one of the most powerful female figures in pop music today and Q.U.E.E.N. is an anthem for anyone who has ever felt marginalised. (Nayt Housman)

The lovely Janelle Monae can do no wrong. She’s the flavour of the moment and with good reason – she sings, she raps, she dances. Is there anything she can’t do? For me ‘Q.U.E.E.N’ is all about being true to yourself, and owning it. Janelle sings “Even if it makes others uncomfortable, I will love who I am”. It’s great to have a song that’s about loving yourself without it being cheesy, sleazy or arrogant. (Katie Langley)

#5. Is This How You Feel? 
by The Preatures

Bright lights, feel alright,
I'm gonna see her again tonight... 

Funky-fresh retro madness has never sounded so good, amiright? ‘Is This How You Feel?’ is an explosive, timeless piece of rock magic that will have both feet shuffling along before Isabella Manfredi arrives and knocks your socks off with the heavenly sound of her voice. You know how I feel? I feel like I’m kinda in love with The Preatures. They’ve created a layered retro goldmine with ‘Is This How You Feel?’ and you’ll be loving every second of it. After taking out top honours in this year’s Vanda and Young Songwriting Competition, the world is now there’s for the taking. With a successful EP now behind them, they must be looking ahead to the release of their debut album in 2014. Can we just agree in advance that if there new tracks are even half as good as ‘Is This How You Feel’, their debut LP is going to be one of the best of 2014? We can? Great. (Matt Bond)

If I could pick perhaps my third favourite song of the year (I’ve already had two with Asta and Little May) then this would be it. First of all the video clip: The solar bursts around the lights, the cross fades, merges, water splash light effects and colour of the whole thing…. Oh and the sassy Isabella (in triple form swimming around the screen at various points). I am in love with the sound that The Preatures make and this is my favourite of their songs from 2013. There is an almost Blondie feel going on here as it seems to nod to retro rock legends from yesteryear. The EP that this track comes from (of the same title) is also a stand out of the year. This song is slick rock pops of awesome. I’m hitting replay already…. (Lou Endicott)

There’s been so much music this year that takes its feel and sounds from times before now, times before ours. I’m so glad a song that takes a little from the 70s and a little from the 80s and a little from the 90s has found itself at number five on this prestigious countdown of ours. While I love sounds from years gone by, I’ve never been afraid to wear my love of rock on my sleeve and I’ve always been quite open about my love of pop, so this is probably the perfect song to bring all of these loves together into a three and a half minute adventure.

It’s an adventure where the keys are like sunshine, the bass like soft grass, the guitars and drums like a bright blue sky and the vocal? The vocal is like every good time you’ve ever had, all rolled into one little pop song. It’s like being alive when being alive is really enjoyable and it’s infectious in a laugh and slap you on the back way as opposed to a viral infection way. Although, if The Preatures were a viral infection, I wouldn’t be taking any medication, because this kind of retro/new/old/catchy/simply awesome music is a virus I’d be more than happy to have. (Jo Michelmore)

The Preatures released one of my favourite EP’s of the year, with ‘Is This How You Feel?’ the stand out track. I really can listen to it on repeat. It incorporates sounds from the 60’s and 70’s with a modern day twist. I’ve actually taken to listening to this song right before I get to work. It’s full of groove and soul and gives me the extra pep for my step to get through my day. When I listen to this song I feel amazing. Yes, that’s how I feel. (Katie Langley)

The Pretenders have a great hit on their hands with Is This How You Feel. Wait? Did I say The Pretenders? Oh I meant the Preatures. When did Leslie Feist join a new band? Wait! It’s not Leslie? Oh… No silly billy it’s Isabella Manfredi and she is most definitely the love child of Leslie Feist and Chrissie Hynde with ‘Is This How You Feel’ taking on a style that to me equally resonates influences from both Feist and The Pretenders.

It’s been a massive year for these kids and rightly so with hits like this. It’s got the right amount of retro, the right amount of now, with plenty of pop and bop, and then there are the voices of Isabella and Gideon, gorgeous. I love a good balancing act between to voices that are quite different but complimentary and The Preatures have worked out their balance perfectly. Kudos kids. Keep it comin. (Nayt Housman)

#4. Josie
by Go Violets

You can come to me, every night of the week.

Do you think I can get this out of my head when I hear it? No. No I can’t. When I hear ‘Josie’ from Brisbane’s Go Violets, I just want to bop around like I never used to as a teenager in my room with the hairbrush I didn’t need subbing in as my rock band microphone. So instead I just bop around as an adult in my room with my phone subbing in as my rock band microphone. I had the time of my life and I owe it all to Go Violets? Infectious rock music from one of the most exciting new acts in all of music that combines grunge and surf influences to create an unexpected sound that’s fresh and a whole lot of fun. There’s literally nothing to dislike about ‘Josie’ and way, way, way too much to love. I imagine they’ll only get better and better from here on in, even though the bar’s been set super high. (Matt Bond)

‘Josie’ has got me hair twirling and doing what I like to call ‘the jelly fish’. It basically involves me bopping along, arms straight beside my body, moving left to right and back again. I’m trying to think of a better word than “cute” to describe what I initially thought of the song. Adorable? Delightful? Sweet? It is really all of those things, but it’s a lot more. For me it feels like a bit of a garage throwback with those drums. And then there’s that handclapping. It’s exciting, fun, and full of summer vibes. (Katie Langley)

I get so many nicknames. I answer to almost all of them. Joey, JoJo, Josephine and the one right here in our hands; Josie. Naturally, I’m inclined to like this song then, right? I do write for a music blog though, so I suppose I should justify it a little more than that. How about these things? Go Violets are an all-girl band from my hometown. That should be enough. No? More justification? There’s a whole lot of fuzzy guitars and a quick little beat that makes me wanna jump in my car with a bunch of friends and drive far with the windows down and the music loud. Still not convinced? There’s a super cute vocal and some super cute deliriously silly lyrics and the harmonies these girls create are superb. Beside all of that, the clip is almost unbearably endearing, like the song; lo fi and adorable. Ok. One more thing - there’s a really simple chorus, so when my friends and I go for that drive with the windows down, it’ll be really easy to sing along and pretend we’re in a film clip, or a 90s film about high school. Or something. (Jo Michelmore)

This indie punk band from Brisbane embody the feeling of youth and energy with their catchy garage band feel and approach to their music. “Josie” is a fun track that has rough and distorted edges that appeal to those who like fuzzy guitars and all things indie and grass roots with their rock. “Josie” is a must clap/dance along track that will no doubt get you jumping. These girls live would no doubt create an incredible energy and get a room up and moving. (Lou Endicott)

#3. Breathe In, Breathe Out
by Thelma Plum

'Cos I'm in love with a boy like you,
I hope you feel it too,
I hope you feel it too. 

“I hope you know this time’s for good, wouldn’t come back now even if I could.” How someone can write something so beautiful and heartbreaking is beyond my imagination, but props to Thelma Plum for detailing how she felt after experience her own first broken heart. A simple piano line carries ‘Breathe In, Breathe Out’, as Plum displays both her vulnerability and strength as she brings this troubled chapter of her life to a close. ‘Breathe In, Breathe Out’ opens with the declaration that it’s over for good, despite the admission that Plum is in fact still, “in love with a boy like you,” and that she hopes he feels the same. Those feelings don’t just disappear in a flash and it’s refreshing to hear that acknowledged. The song becomes completely relatable in those moments and the connection established here is why I’ll always regard the track as one of my favourite music moments of not only the year, but ever. Thelma Plum takes the wind right out of your sails (whatever that means), leaving you a little breathless and a little bit sad, but very thankful for the experience she’s just shared with the world. In my opinion, this is the Australian song of the year and the best piece of songwriting in 2013. (Matt Bond)

Damn she sure knows how to wrap ones heart strings right around her lil finger and just tug, tug, tug. ‘Breathe In Breathe Out’ is possibly one of the most heart-wrenching numbers we’ve heard from her this year and certainly one of my favourites. Can you believe she’s only 18? Can you believe she’s from Brisbane too? I’m so impressed with the standard of music that is being created in this little city I reside in.

“I hope you know this time’s for good, wouldn’t come back now even if I could, coz I’m a big girl now, all on my own, won’t ya please tell mum ‘n’ dad I’m not comin’ home.” It’s like she sings with wisdom and complete innocence at the same time. She knows the importance of those little nuances in her voice, like the little quavers, that let us know where the emotion is coming from. I love in one of the YouTube videos for ‘Breathe In Breathe Out’ Thelma introduces it as “A big fuck you to my ex boyfriend.” It’s like the ultimate fuck you, not showing spitefulness or anger but instead by being so reflective and getting right to the guts of it. I bet he cried like a baby when he heard it. (Nayt Housman)

Thelma Plum, you are just gorgeous – inside and out. ‘Breathe Out’ showcases Thelma’s beautiful vocal range. It seems to come so effortlessly. And I love hearing her Australian accent! I’m always a fan of artists resisting the urge to adopt an American twang. The charm of this song is its simplicity – striking vocals, relatable lyrics and minimalistic piano and violin. It plucks right at the heart strings and I feel like I’m with Thelma every step of the way. (Katie Langley)

This heartfelt song from Thelma Plum once again showcases the sensitivity and raw talent of this emerging artist. The beautiful lyrics behind this song throw me back to my own coming of age: “Cos I’m a big girl now all on my own. Won’t you please tell Mum and Dad I’m not coming home?” The strings that accompany the simple piano and Thelma’s oh-so-gorgeous (and instantly recognisable) Australian voice leave me a little misty eyed and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Beautiful little song. (Lou Endicott)

I think I might have said it before, but it doesn't happen often, so I'll say it again. There are some songs that know you. They know who you are, they live in your heart and you can't imagine how you ever existed before them. How do they know what you feel? How do they know what you've been through? How do they know every word you needed to say and how do they fill your heart? How Thelma Plum managed to put every feeling and thought I have about things I have felt and thought  into song, is exactly why music means so much to me, so in a year of open letters, let me write one. This one not so open, but to someone I once knew...

It’s been so long, but I haven’t forgotten. Have you? Do you remember how it was? Do you remember the all night conversations, the dance floor, the front row, the look across a room full of people, the recognition of the space and the ability to allow the closeness?

“Wouldn’t come back now, even if I could”

Do you remember the view, the thoughts of what had been and the imaginings of what was to come?

“I’m a big girl now, all on my own”

Do you remember the feeling, the words, so many words and the comfortable silence? Once the space had been filled, there was nothing left to say. Do you remember the promises and the sunrise and the things we lost for the things we gained?

“I hope you feel it too”

Do you remember it? Do you remember it all? Do you remember the loss of heart and the way you meant it and the way you said it?

“Was it really me or maybe you all along”

Do you know what happened? Do you think of it? Do you wonder what could have been? I was in love, with a boy like you. Most days I forget, but every now and then a song like this will come along and remind me.

When a song like this does, it stabs straight through my heart. It hurts and it heals and without it, I wouldn’t be who and where I am today. With songs as beautiful as this, somehow everything all makes sense. That’s the beauty of music and that’s why I turn to it and artists like Thelma Plum, artists who know how to wear their hearts on their sleeves, to put their lives in their songs, to remind themselves and in turn to those who are lucky enough to actually hear it, to do what is sometimes so hard; 

“Breathe in, breathe out” (Jo Michelmore)

#2. Get Lucky
by Daft Punk ft. Pharrell Williams

Like the legend of the phoenix,
All ends with beginnings. 

Every year needs that track that will get everyone in the room moving those feet. No, it was not ‘Blurred Lines’. Kinda date-rapey songs don’t get everyone’s feet moving. And no, Robin Thicke, I did not “miss the point” of the song. Of course, that song that got the world dancing and brought joy to the masses was Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’, their most successful single ever. A lot of that has to do with the massive appeal of one Mr Pharrell Williams in 2013. While I look at his ‘Blurred Lines’ involvement and think poor form, his ‘Get Lucky’ performance tempers that distaste a little. Along with Nile Rodgers and Williams, those French robot weirdos took us back to the disco heyday of the late 70s, a stark difference from what we’ve all come to expect from Daft Punk. Pharrell sings of a gift that keeps on giving and I can’t help but think he’s actually singing about ‘Get Lucky’. Will the good time vibes take it all the way to the top of the Hottest 100? (Matt Bond)

The thing is, it’s true. Not a truer word was spoken in music this year and it took two guys in robot helmets, a legendary guitarist and a guy who has his sticky fingers in almost everything and everyone in the music industry these days; Pharrell Williams, to tell it like it is. So how is it? It’s like this. A good pop song should consist of a few things; you’re going to need a killer hook, something to drive the song but not overpower it. Enter Nile Rodgers, producer and disco guitarist extraordinaire, who’s worked with some of the greats; David Bowie, The Sugarhill Gang, Madonna, Eric Clapton; the list goes on and on. You’ll need a voice to relate to and a producer who isn’t afraid to push some boundaries and talk things up. Enter Pharrell Williams. You’ll need someone who knows some sounds that are familiar, but not copied, samples and synths that are relatable and you need to throw them all together in a melodic manner. Enter Daft Punk. What do you have? You got yourself one of the catchiest songs of 2013. It all sound so easy on the screen, right? If only it were, we’d all be walking around in reflective suits with helmets on our heads. Or something like that. So the truth they speak of? It's simple, it's like this....

"We're up all night 'til the sun
We're up all night to get some
We're up all night for good fun
We're up all night to get lucky"

...and you can take that however you like. But it's true. (Jo Michelmore)

I really love it. Just really love it. Why? Because when I’m at shitty work, serving shitty customers and I hear it come over the airwaves, I start dancing, bopping, tapping and if no one is around, singing along. Pure, good, pop. Sometimes I’m not looking for the most profound musical experience, especially when working. Otherwise my workmates would think I’m continually having nervous breakdowns. The level that ‘Get Lucky’ operates on is perfect. It’s got enough to keep me interested but not too much to give me emotional overload.

‘Get Lucky’ divided fans of Daft Punk when it came out after such a long wait between drinks. Possibly due to the more ‘poptastic’ direction rather than the ‘dance’ we’d become used to but hey, any non-pop act that can knock Shitney Spears or Lady Blah Blah off their perch is alright by me. (Nayt Housman)

Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams? It was always going to be a hit! Seriously, could you think of two cooler peeps to collaborate? ‘Get Lucky’ has got that whole disco funk thing going for it, which I love. I think that this song also gives me magical dancing abilities. Every time I hear it my hips and shoulders start moving in all kinds of crazy directions. I suddenly get rhythm I didn’t know I had. Or at least, I think I get rhythm. That has to be the sign of a good song. (Katie Langley)

The first time I heard this I thought I was listening to an old disco/funk song and made a mental note to look it up later. A day or so later I heard it on Triple J and realised 'Get Lucky' was NEW music. I went home, looked it up and was hooked. The next night I was at my local open mic night and one of my talented musician friends Janine Marshall (hi Janine!) got up with a guitar and started belting this song out. I ran down to the stage and instantly realised I knew the words (they are pretty easy to sing along to - just get them in the right order!) I just HAD to dance. I was probably the only one dancing but I didn’t care. We had one of those moments after the set: “How good is this song?” “Is funk coming back?” “Can you believe that that Nile Rogers is featured here?” “He’s the cool one from Chic!” “Are we old?” “No, we’re COOL!” This is one of the best feel-good tracks of the year and Daft Punk have hit the ground running with the fresh funk groove and authentic dance anthem of 'Get Lucky'. (Lou Endicott)

#1. Royals
by Lorde

But every song's like gold teeth, grey goose, trippin' in the bathroom,
Blood stains, ball gowns, trashin' the hotel room,
We don't care... we're driving Cadillacs in our dreams. 

It was Jo that introduced me to this song before I was even writing for IMKOS (I was a long time reader before being a contributor). I was immediately smitten with the voice and thick bassy drums of 'Royals'. I love the stripped back beats with the simple click. And that melody: Oh so listenable. And then there are the lyrics that just HAVE to be learnt immediately so you can sing along. Needless to say the very next morning I had purchased my own copy of the EP, The Love Club. And then I was telling everybody who would listen to me – “Check THIS song out! How cool is this?!?” As a freelancey/artist kind of chick myself and being surrounded by friends who are also freelancy/arty types, the wealth (of the pocket kind) has always been somewhat of a challenge for me and my contemporaries. However the richness in spirit we all share feels like it is celebrated in this winner of a track. Oh my Lorde. Yes. This track deserves top spot. (Lou Endicott)

History says, every now and then, when pop music gets a little bit stale and we’ve one too many pop stars doing…not much at all, along comes one to shake it all up and remind us how good it can all be. How lucky I was to witness the one who did that this year, Lorde, take over the pretty little pop world with her own brand of pop. You can say what you want about ‘Royals’ and you can pick it apart and talk about disenchanted youth and role models and the teenagers of today and what the media portrays as normality and what actually is, and that’s fine and worthy of discussion, but you know what? This is ultimately a pop song and it’s quite simply a really good pop song. It’s the unassuming fingers clicking and the modest beats that draw you in, it’s the voice of Lorde that keeps you entranced, singing about her status, so familiar it makes us all feel welcome into a world similar to our own and it’s a philosophy I love; less is more, that makes this a pop song to remember and adore.

When 2013 is all said and done, there’ll be a lot to think about. It’s been a year of change and debate and thoughts and everything different and everything the same. When you think music in 2013, you’re going to remember a lot of amazing music of all genres. ‘Royals’ is exactly everything music should be; it’s not going to change the world, but it has changed the face of the music industry for a little while and that’s nothing to be mocked. It’s thought provoking, it’s challenging if you choose it to be, but above all else, it’s pop music and let’s remember one of the best things about’s fun. (Jo Michelmore)

Uh oh, well this is awkward. I used my Lorde gag earlier in the countdown. Let’s pretend that didn’t happen so that I can again say OH MY LORDE! She’s a deserving winner of our number one spot, and it probably didn’t come as any surprise to you that this was our pick. I personally don’t think there is a more deserving winner. Except for ‘Katie’ by The Stiffys – that was also cool. A friend introduced me to ‘Royals' and I fell in love, fast. In fact, I started getting a little obsessed. I played the song over and over, watched the clip over and over, and kept recommending it to my friends over and over. What is it about this song I love so much? Well, that damn catchy hook for one. And then there’s that voice! I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings for this amazing young lady. (Katie Langley)


In my own life, I’ve called 2013 a year of change and I believe that can be applied to the music industry as well. New life has been breathed into it from artists spanning the globe, forcing somewhat of a changing of the guard. More than that, 2013 has been a year in which the notion of what ‘popular’ music is has been redefined, the dominant theme of ‘lifestyles of the rich and famous’ has been challenged more openly and (best of all) genuine conversations about the roles women are expected to play in the music industry are becoming more commonplace. It was also a year of one too many open letters, but we’ll ignore that for the moment. If there is one artist who captures what ‘2013 in music’ has been, it would have to be New Zealand’s Lorde and along with her, the song ‘Royals’. ‘Royals’ is the sound of disenfranchised youth who are taking a look at the world around them and realising life isn’t one big party. It’s not all, “first class, up in the sky,” and no one is going to be poppin’ bottles of champagne in your honour anytime soon. This isn’t a song for the 1%, it’s a realistic exploration of how silly the fantasy life that’s thrown in our face through music every day is. That ‘Royals’ achieved a nine week run at the top of the US charts, keeping the Miley Cyruses and Katy Perrys at bay for so long, is a testament to the strength of the message. That it came from a then 16 year old, female, New Zealand born artist is just the icing on the cake. In under three and half minutes, Lorde became pop royalty that stands out from the fake pretenders to the crown. Long may she reign. (Matt Bond)

 Thanks so much for reading...and get ready for the next installment of our end of year celebrations...The Scene Awards! 

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