51-47

51. “Ricky Ricardo”- KAPTN

You can imagine my surprise listening to KAPTN’s on-point Chican@ accent on Los Angeles radio stations, and later discovering that the mastermind behind “Ricky Ricardo” is not the Mexican-American crossover rapper we’ve been waiting for, but as gringo as gringo gets. It’s only fitting; I imagine many viewers who originally watched “I Love Lucy” were surprised to discover that the immortal Lucille Ball’s husband was not the blue-eyed Gene Kelly prototype they expected, but the Cuban sensation Desi Arnaz, the real live face behind the make-believe Ricky. And much like Arnaz, KAPTN does well in creating annoyingly catchy hooks (that KATPN makes only a passing “Babalu!” reference semi-shocks me) and pairing them with some not-so-subtle sexual innuendo. It’s a song so obviously crafted for the summer of 2013 (how long do you suppose the “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23” reference will stay fresh?) that I will not be surprised if KAPTN and his ship sink into a well-deserved pit of irrelevance and royalties. “Ricky Ricardo” is a stupid song, but KATPN merits many points for creative stupidity by crafting what is easily the best “I Love Lucy” inspired club smash ever made.

50. “The Time Before The Last Time”- Los Campesinos!

Because my friend Ethan introduced me to both musical phases of Los Campesinos!, I wasn’t given the opportunity to experience the band’s transition between twee indie-dance into a sad moody McSadfest (although, really, they’ve always been sad) in real time. And sure, lead singer Gareth Campesinos!’s brilliant brooding doesn’t sound nearly as exhilarating without former band member Ellen Campesino!’s Flavor Flav-like microphone shouts, but that doesn’t mean the basics of what made Los Campesinos! such an incredible band to begin with haven’t stayed. Their music is the most indie arena rock you’ll find, you’ll be guaranteed to relate to Gareth’s simple emotive release, and you’ll enjoy how the band makes every single moment the climax to the few minutes you decided to tune in and turn off.

49. “The Way”- Ariana Grande and Mac Miller

Hey, it’s that Mariah Carey song! Lol jk not really (sorry), but no one should be blamed for confusing Ariana Grande with Mariah Carey, partly because Carey is currently on a weird pop streak, but mostly because most female upstart singers for the past decade have done nothing but copy Mariah. And speaking of copy, we have “The Way,” quite possibly the most indistinguishable pop hit of 2013, with a piano hook inspired from a 2012 Meek Mill song and a guest appearance from the rapper least deserving of his 2013 success. And yet, you know it’s a hit when you listen to it. It’s blithe, formulaic, and too reliant on Grande’s undeniable sex appeal and vanilla voice, but a good pop song is a good pop song regardless of the process, and “The Way” undoubtedly qualifies.

48. “Distant Relative Salute”- White Denim

Musicians in Austin seem to try one of two things: either 1) be cool, or 2) be retro. Texas rock foursome White Denim try both and succeed with “Distant Relative Salute,” a soft-rock waltz dressed too slyly with an un-ironic saxophone-organ attack that belongs to one of those cities with the slogan “Keep _______ Weird” (actually, Austin is the only one I know of with that slogan…but you understand…Portland, Boulder, Providence, Madison…). While it sucks that music like this has been so dragged down by its hipster label that one can only probably hear it in independent coffee shops, college radio, and self-righteous web logs (but of course not this one), it’s comforting to understand that the lifeblood of indie rock continues even in the bands who know they can make it big doing something else. Of course, this may just be an Austin thing.

47. “Wendy N Becky”- Joey Bada$$ Chance the Rapper

Joey Bada$$ is making good decisions for an 18 year old. For one, he allowed young producer Thelonius Martin to loop a naked jazz sample without pretention or the bells and whistles that make modern production a bit of a fireworks display. B, he wasn’t afraid to allocate half of his spotlight to a superior rapper for the health of the track, though unlike many of Chance the Rapper’s 2013 collaborators, Joey keeps up with his partner. Roman numeral III, that “Wendy N Becky” title may just reference Chance’s Windy City and Joey’s BK Brooklyn hometown, a beautiful distraction from the New York/Chicago beef that isn’t really happening (except in my dreams). And, oh yeah, he’s making money from all of this, a lot more money than an 18 year old from Flatbush would normally be making. What were you doing at 18?

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