by Wilfred Okiche
The annual best songs list is one of the most difficult to compile. How does one compress the countless songs released in the period under review to a shortlist of 10? Is it possible to truly listen to every single song released in a year? What should be the criteria for deciding?
We tried and tried and decided on the following. Period under review is 1, December 2012 to 1, December 2013. To consider only songs released and promoted as singles in the year under review. That is to say, tracks which make up an album but were not promoted as singles were not considered. To judge with the quality of recording, popular acceptance and pop culture impact. Note that this list differs from the most popular songs of 2013.
We present the final 10. In ascending order.
10) Down – Brymo
Brymo’s ‘Ara’ topped this list last year and he is back already. While this one may not top ‘Ara’ for pure listening pleasure, ‘Down’ has Brymo doing the best singing in his career so far and leaving no doubt as to his mastery of his talent.
9) Down – Ruby
‘Down’ with it’s catchy verses and memorable melody is so deceptively simple, it appears effortless. But do not discount Ruby’s stellar vocals layered on the beat like chocolate syrup on ice cream. It saves the song from comparisons with similar sounding Choc City fare.
8) Emi ni baller – Chidinma ft. Ill Bliss, Tha Suspect
A power single if we ever heard one. The pulse pounding production by Legenary beats somehow combines the talents of Chidinma, Ill Bliss and Tha Suspect to create this stomper. While Ill Bliss remains Oga boss and Suspect a willing collaborator, it is Chidinma who owns this one, beginning and powering this anthem to it’s brilliant end.
7) Ejika – GT da Guitarman
‘Ejika’ is one of the year’s underated treasures but we are glad to redirect attention to it. No one sings quite like GT da guitarman and he is in prime form in this jubilant love song. You will be singing and howling along.
6) Run my race – Burna Boy
Burna Boy’s hammer pulse anthem may have been an imitation of Fela Anikulapo Kuti but when done this good, one finds it hard to begrudge the young man his craftsmanship. Young acts could learn a thing or two here.
5) I wish – Waje
‘I wish’ sports a mildly restrained turn from big voiced Waje but it is an excellent recording, demanding minimal vocal fluorishes. Waje nails the heartache, the loss and the pain behind.
4) Yes/No – Banky W
Mr Capable is in with the smoothest love song of the year. ‘Yes/No’ was the song the guys proposed to and hopefully, the ladies all said yes.
3) Best in me – Efya
Efya’s mid-tempo ballad gained wider acceptance when it was added to the soundtrack of the hit movie ‘Flower girl’. It was acceptance well deserved. Her power vocals complimented the breezy arrangement and sugary sweet melodies. And the piano strums, divine.
2) Repete – Black magic
‘Repete’is the kind of song you hear and instantly drop whatever you are doing and listen, because nothing else is as important as assimilating this magic number. It could have been done with only the instrumentals (that saxophone!) and it would still be perfect. The vocals are just icing on the cake. It is so good, we will ignore the copyright issues generated.
1) Khona – Mafikizolo ft. Uhuru
The South African duo (formerly trio) made a return to the stage this year and what a comeback it was. Possibly bigger around the world than in their hometown, this nostalgic, reflective yet utterly danceable number about love lost was the icing on a cake of a musically enriching year.
And let’s not forget….
Released as a single last year, ‘Ghost mode’ would have been termed last year’s hit but it’s video released in December 2012 ensured it became a 2013 staple. A battle royale between Olamide and Phyno. Phyno takes the crown (of course) but not without a spirited challenge from the baddest guy ever liveth. The most refreshing rap duet to land on the scene in years. And how we love it.
Do you agree?
The writer tweets from @drwill20