JOPLIN, Mo. — These are my top 11 favorite pop songs of the year:
1. Haim: 'The Wire'
What I said a few months ago about this song still applies: "If God were the head of a label and shouted, 'Get me a hit!' it might sound like this."
"The Wire," alas, wasn't a hit, but its almost archetypal pop song structure made Haim one of the most written about bands in entertainment media this year and got them a gig as the musical guests on "Saturday Night Live."
Most modern pop songs of this caliber are made in studios, not by bands, and that's what makes this such a marvel. The guitar parts, vocal harmonies, and keyboard accents are so well deployed and timed Ñ hooks upon hooks building on top of each other Ñ that it's the rare sugar rush that feels earned.
2. Kanye West: 'Hold My Liquor'
I'll write a little more about Kanye West's "Yeezus" next week when I write about my favorite albums of 2013, but I will say "Hold My Liquor" wasn't the first song I connected with off West's fifth album. Or the second. It went "Black Skinhead," then "New Slaves," then "Blood on the Leaves," and then "Bound 2."
But, man, when it hit me, it was all I could listen to for weeks, and now it's far and away my favorite song on the album.
Landing squarely in the middle of West's dark, abrasive opus, "Hold My Liquor" is equal parts depressive and angry. But really, it's all about those rich synth tones, that abrasive air-horn effect, Justin Vernon's deep-from-the-cold-forest hook, Chief Keef's stoned, dead-inside verse and West's ripping "When I park my Range Rover / Slightly scratch your Corolla / OK, I smashed your Corolla."