The 100 Best Tracks of 2013

‘Best of’ lists are never easy, and whittling down this year’s essential dance offerings to a tidy 100 tracks was no mean feat. If you had a look at our feature The 45 best tracks of the year…so far back in June, you might notice some differences between this list and the last. Some of the mid-year tracks don’t appear here at all, many of the rank orders have changed, and some tracks that were released in the first half of the year and not featured in the mid-year list have snuck in now. Why? There’s a few reasons: For one, it’s easier to reflect on a track’s significance when it’s taken in the full context of a year. Some tracks have taken on a new life since they were first released. Others have, when compared to new offerings, seemed less important.

There’s other things that make it tricky, too. Is it a little bit ridiculous to try and compare a big-room banger with deep house? You bet. Are there tracks we’ve overlooked? Probably. Will there be at least a couple of things you think we’ve got completely wrong? Absolutely. But what we’ve tried to do here is put genre aside and come out with a countdown of the 100 tracks the last twelve months will be remembered for. And for all the difficulty of compiling the list, there was one thing it made very clear: 2013 was an excellent year for dance music.

#100. Boys Noize – Starwin

2013 was the year that German dynamo Boys Noize finally got his call-up to mix a FabricLive compilation, and he brought his signature Teutonic drive to proceedings on the 72nd edition, working in everyone from of-the-moment heroes Gesaffelstein and Alesia to techno royalty like Dave Clarke and Robert Hood. Coming early in the 31-track journey is his own creation Starwin, a change-up from the heads-down gear he’s so adept at. While bright, swelling and house-y, it’s still got that acid line that creeps in so expertly to remind us we’re in the house of Boys Noize. [Jack Tregoning]

#99. Elizabeth Rose – The Good Life

Sydney’s Elizabeth Rose has been pricking ears for a good couple of years now, but it wasn’t until 2013 that she gave us a truly world class single with The Good Life. So it’s fitting the track that saw her take the step up is about adulthood and spreading the proverbial wings (“let me find my way”, she belts in the chorus), and damn infectious for good measure. The Good Life is the singer/producer’s best work yet – and her best is very, very good. [Katie Cunningham]

#98. Guy Gerber – 25 Stitches

Guy Gerber has stepped it up big time this year, fronting his very own residency at Pacha Ibiza of all places – and he’s still so prolific in the studio that he took it upon himself to release an entire album of new material free to his fans this month. 25 Stitches is the highlight. It’s a sexy tech-house cut, and the grooves are dark and seductive; though it’s the cleverly selected hip-hop sample that does the real damage. This one will not leave your head for days. [Angus Paterson]

#97. Dillon Francis ft Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs – Without You

This year, we learned that EDM’s quirkiest class clown has a sensitive side. Francis joined forces with Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, who lent his melancholic vocals and keen sense of atmosphere to the track; meanwhile, TEED’s much-loved airy synths populate the verses and much of the track, building into Dillon’s more biting topline. Without You is Francis’ first consummate breakup song, and it captures his angst as well as a surprising reflectiveness. [Lauren Lipsay]

#96. Breach – Everything You Never Had

Ben Westbeech has done it again. After already scoring one of the year’s best tracks with the dancefloor monster Jack, he doubled down in October with some deeper early 90s vibes and one of the most body-moving basslines of recent times; just try keeping still when it drops in at 0.46. Pure happiness. [Nick Jarvis]

#95. Chromeo – Over Your Shoulder

When White Women drops next year there are gonna be so many pregnancies. Over Your Shoulder was our first taste of the new album and it’s vintage Chromeo – seductively smart lyrics, low slung bass and classic pop hooks. Chromeo is for the lovers. [Nick Jarvis]

#94. Renato Cohen – Pontape (2013 remake)

A true classic in every sense of the word, Pontape was played by nearly every techno DJ on the planet, and even featured in sets from DJs not normally known for playing techno. Still able to blow up a dancefloor but sounding decidedly dated in terms of its production, the track was in desperate need of an update, which is what we have here. The 2013 remake brings the track back to life without messing with its core elements, basically acting more like a ‘remastered’ version of the original that keeps its charm intact. [Andrew Wowk]

#93. Lange vs Genix – Immersion

UK trance veteran Lange has always been the one attempting to coax trance out of formula, though recently he’s been steering it back in a more melodic direction – and here hooks up with young gun Genix for a stunning track that shows just how future-minded the pair are. A dizzying, winding build-up slams into one of the best basslines ever heard in the so-called ‘trouse’ sound – shooting back and forth tirelessly before giving way to a proper hero ‘hands in the air’ chorus. One of the best trance hook-ups heard in a very, very long time. [Angus Paterson]

#92. DJ Snake ft Lil Jon – Turn Down for What

What begins as a march of rolling drums turns into so much more: Turn Down For What isn’t just a tweaked-out trap banger, it’s also become an anthem and rallying cry for the 70-BPM set. With this tune, DJ Snake proved that he is, undoubtedly, the most turnt-up artist to ever come out of France. The Lil’ Jon stamp of approval doesn’t hurt either; plus, the King of Crunk has one of the few voices that could make itself heard over Snake’s blaring synths and booty-shaking bassline. [Lauren Lipsay]

#91. Spektre – Turbine

Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) in October was characterised by the unprecedented amount of sold out, large-scale techno events that went down across the city, including the five sold-out nights hosted by the Awakenings brand at the spectacular Gashouder complex; and Turbine from British duo Spektre was one of the standout records that was given a workout. UK techno injected with an extra burst of soaring melody, the track’s spinning, machine-like breakdown sounds epic beyond belief when blasting out over those huge spaces. [Angus Paterson]

#90. Jagwar Ma – The Throw

Following on from their massive success with Sydney producer Flume, it would seem as though Australian indie imprint Future Classic have another hit up their sleeves with Jagwar Ma’s Howlin LP. Early single The Throw heralds all that’s to like from the duo of Jono Ma and Gabriel Winterfield with a throwback to the baggy era and its exalted proponents of rave-bred rock music (see The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and Primal Scream).

The precise layering of samples on The Throw, alongside Winterfield’s drowsy vocal loops, gives the tune the mesmeric and narcotic qualities that make its six-plus running time feel strangely fleeting. The solution? Hit repeat. [Dave Ruby Howe]

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