13. St. Lucia -- Elevate
St. Lucia is the stage name of South African-born multi-instrumentalist Jean-Philip Grobler. He's worked with bands like Foster the People, Passion Pit, and Haerts, and it shows in his own material. St. Lucia's first full-length album, When the Night, dropped just a couple of months ago and quickly became one of the best records of its kind this year, full of exuberant dance beats and giant hooks -- tinged with a distinctly 80s flare -- but with just as many sublimely introspective moments. The first single from the record, Elevate, for lack of a more fitting description, just made you feel good. And that's often the best thing you could want out of a song.
12. Savages -- Shut Up
Holy shit, Savages. What more can really be said about this potent French-British onslaught, aside from confidently planting a flag in the statement that they might very well be the best and purest post-punk band to not actually come out of the late-70s-early-80s post-punk heyday. They sound like Siouxsie, like Joy Division, like Bauhaus, like Gang of Four, like so many of the beloved bands a lot of us older folks grew up with -- the ones that changed our lives -- only fueled by the particular grievances and furies of a new, media-dominated generation. Savages' Matador label debut album, Silence Yourself, was one of the must-owns of the year, and Shut Up was one of its most, well, savage offerings.
11. Eminem -- Rap God
The first single from Eminem's eagerly awaited sequel to his landmark Marshall Mathers LP -- titled simply The Marshall Mathers LP 2 -- was a raucous, old school blast. The Rick Rubin-produced Berzerk was all Beastie Boys and Billy Squire samples and it paid wonderful homage not only to Eminem's past but to the birth of the rap-rock hybrid. But that was nothing compared to the second offering from the album: the six-minute hip-hop high-wire act Rap God. If Em set out with one single to prove that he's as vital in the game in 2013 as he was when he blew everyone's mind back in 1999, he did it with Rap God -- a title which, while tongue-in-cheek, isn't in reality the least bit ironic. The verbal acrobatics on the track were nothing short of astonishing, culminating in a rapid-fire machine gun burst of 100 words in just 16 seconds, giving even the great Busta Rhymes a run for his money. When you considered the artistry in Eminem's wordplay, to say nothing of his overall skills, there was no denying that love him or hate him, he's still one of the best MCs in hip-hop history.