Honorable Mention: Fuck Buttons – “Hidden XS” from Slow Focus; Junip – “Line of Fire” from Junip; Queens of the Stone Age – “I Appear Missing” from …Like Clockwork; Colin Stetson – “To See More Light” from New History of Warfare Vol. 3; Justin Timberlake – “Tunnel Vision” from The 20/20 Experience
10. Nine Inch Nails – “Copy of A” from Hesitation Marks
By channeling his inner James Murphy, both in the song’s percussive drive and lyrics questioning one’s creative relevance, Trent Reznor created one of NIN’s most unique tracks in over a decade.
9. Arcade Fire – “Reflektor” from Reflektor
After riding the Springstreen wave to diminishing returns on The Suburbs, the Arcade Fire thrillingly mixed things up with Reflektor, especially the Depeche Mode meets LCD Soundsystem title track.
8. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – “So Good At Being in Trouble” from II
If the production of II washes out many of UMO’s best hooks, the treatment is perfect for “So Good at Being in Trouble,” the band’s most memorable ballad to date.
7. Sigur Ros – “Kveikur” from Kveikur
The title track off Sigur Ros’s Kveikur, with its monstrous descending baseline and crushing crescendos, is the band’s heaviest since “Untitled 8” and closest it’s ever come to writing a straight up post-metal song.
6. Eleanor Friedberger – “When I Knew” from Personal Record
Eleanor Friedberger’s solo Personal Record actually features lyrics by novelist John Wesley Harding, which lends this positively infectious pop song with some knotty, gender bending energy.
5. Vampire Weekend – “Step"from Modern Vampires in the City
Sounding like the theme song to a yet-to-be-filmed Wes Anderson movie, Vampire Weekend’s "Step” transcends the band’s sometimes too-mannered songwriting with their most beguiling, lovely melody to date.
4. Youth Lagoon – “Raspberry Cane” from Wondrous Budhouse
Wondrous Bughouse is both a profoundly anxious and beautiful album. The album’s climax, “Raspberry Cane,” rides a transporting, Brian Wilson on queluudes vocal melody into the year’s most psychedelic coda.
3. Kanye West – “Black Skinhead” from Yeezus
Yeezus is a deeply uneven album, but the highlights are, for me, the best work Kanye has ever done. “Black Skinhead” is somehow the most ferociously anti-social and insanely catchy song he has ever written.
2. Autre Ne Veut – “Play by Play” from Anxiety
From the album Anxiety, “Play by Play” sounds a bit like Prince suffering a panic attack. Singer Arthur Ashin a sonic mountain of melody and discordant voices that rocket skyward and explode in a hundred different directions in the song’s extended, brilliant coda.
1. Daft Punk – “Get Lucky” from Random Access Memories
An obvious choice? Maybe. The only choice? Yeah. Though Random Access Memories, with its overt pastiche, was a big disappointment for me, with “Get Lucky,” bouyed by Pharrell’s slick production and Nile Rogers’ chunky guitar hook, Daft Punk crafted an instant classic. By embracing the funk and disco of the past and shining it through their retro-futuristic prism, “Get Lucky” feels like it has already been around for 50 years.