2013 In Review: The Best Songs From Pop Goes The World

Sam Lansky | December 31, 2013 7:00 am

Well! It was quite a year not just for American pop music, but for tunes from around the globe, too — and as I was looking back on my favorite songs that we featured in Pop Goes The World (that thing we did where we scoured weird K-pop blogs and Finnish news stories to dig up the most interesting, undiscovered tracks breaking in other countries), it occurred to me that there were quite a few that I had on heavy rotation all year long — and even a few that ended up breaking through to the mainstream months later.

Passports out? All good!

Lorde, “Royals” (April 29, 2013)

This year’s breakout songstress Lorde had already topped the charts in her native New Zealand with “Royals” by the time I wrote about this song (it debuted at #1 in March 2013), but it wasn’t until August that she managed to snag the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 stateside. Still, I can’t help but feel a fond nostalgia for the first time I heard this song, months before its ubiquity had made me resent it: Those spare, eerie finger-snaps; that curious, chanting voice; that indelible hook. “Royals” felt magical, and if you listen carefully, it still does.

Laura Jansen, “Golden” (May 6, 2013)

I don’t know what this song is and I don’t know where it came from but I know that “Golden” was one of my most-played songs of the year, perhaps my absolute most-played song of the year, from Holland’s Laura Jansen; serving Florence & The Machine Lana Del Rey gloomwave hu-pop greatness with the sparkliest chorus of the year. It’s hard to imagine that this song won’t end up in a movie trailer or TV montage sometime.

John Newman, “Love Me Again” (May 15, 2013)

He’s been tipped as the male Adele and the buzz has gotten pretty noisy — especially with his US debut due out early next year — but when John Newman came out the gate in May of this year with his monolithic debut single “Love Me Again,” like all the jazzy nu-pop-soul singles of the past few years put together and blasted out through a megaphone. It soars and swings, buoyed by Newman’s wonderfully strange vocals and the infectious earworm of a hook. It wasn’t a radio hit this year — but hey, there’s always 2014.

Lucas Nord & Tove Lo, “Run On Love” (June 3, 2013)

While we may have spent this year buzzing about other hotly tipped songstresses with a lot of crossover power (Lorde, Ariana Grande, et al), much of the year’s best pop definitely belonged to Swedish siren Tove Lo, who took the crown with tracks like the depressive comedown anthem “Habits,” a mega-power-electro-ballad called “Out Of Mind,” and this terrific collaboration with DJ Lucas Nord, “Run On Love,” which is perhaps the year’s most crystalline dance song, equal parts zippy euphoria and melancholy heartache.

Broods, “Bridges” (November 7, 2013)

New Zealand stepped into the spotlight this year, but Lorde producer Joel Little‘s latest project, Broods, have yet to break out on this side of the Pacific; the Kiwi brother-sister duo are making waves with their single “Bridges,” which has much of the downtempo chilliness of “Royals” with an added sweetness — plus an equally addictive hook. Don’t be surprised if it takes off here, too.

Get an eyeful of even more pop music coverage, from artist interviews to exclusive performances, on Idolator’s YouTube channel.