Growing up. Leaving home. Knowing everything. Understanding nothing. Marching to Zion.
9. “The Edge of Glory” – Lady Gaga
Falling hard for someone envisioned as a dance at the brink of an abyss, with Clarence Clemons’ sax to lift it to the stratosphere.
8. “Power” – Kanye West
Wailing, furious sample backs Mr. West’s gladiatorial stomp, his infectious urge to just let it all go up in flames.
7. “Hot Knife” – Fiona Apple
Primordial love song explosion, layer upon layer of expression from excitement to power to solace.
6. “Naturally” – Selena Gomez & The Scene
Disney Channel dance-pop at its absolute best. Affection follows authenticity as thunder follows lightning.
5. “Fare Thee Well (Dink’s Song)” – Oscar Isaac & Marcus Mumford
From Inside Llewyn Davis, a new rendition of a century-old folk song: somber, tragic, transcendent.
4. “Crown on the Ground” – Sleigh Bells
Being steamrolled by a song never felt so good. Alexis Krauss’s creamy vocals complemented by Derek Miller’s brash guitar. Takes no prisoners.
3. “Empire” – Shakira
There are few singers in the world who could carry off this kind of pop-rock grandeur like Shakira does. With an epically cooed chorus to send monuments crumbling.
2. “If We Ever Meet Again” – Timbaland featuring Katy Perry
I first saw the video for this song in a Motel 6 on the drive home after graduating from college. That’s the kind of coincidence that will make this song’s chorus stick with me forever.
1. “Jar of Hearts” – Christina Perri
Pop songs seldom display this kind of patience. Perri’s breakthrough hit starts quietly and sadly, only unleashing its full fury in the final minute. “Jar of Hearts” is a musical staircase out of a cellar and back into the light of day. Poetic and poignant, this song, more than any other I’ve heard in the last five years, can leave me emotionally full.