Top 10 Songs of 2013

See the winning songs and hear the best playlist of the year right here. And the award for best song of 2013 goes to…

Ultimate Guitar

What are the best rock or metal songs of 2013? With so many to choose from, there's no way we could do it alone. That's why we asked our expert readers to nominate and vote for their top tracks of the year. After counting hundreds of nominations and thousands of votes, we've finally got the best playlist of the year. All that's left to do is kick back and let the sound wash over you. What do you think of the playlist? We'd love to know your personal track of the year, so join in the comments and let us know what you think.

10. Pearl Jam "Lightning Bolt"

A triumphant return for Pearl Jam whose tenth studio album was a solid return to form. They may not be flag-bearers of youth as they once were, but prove themselves as elder statement to look up to.

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9. Dave Grohl, Josh Homme and Trent Reznor "Mantra"

Dave Grohl's "Soundcity" movie about the legendary recording studio came with a soundtrack featuring some of the greatest musicians to ever grace the studio. This seven-minute jam between three modern rock icons might simmer more often than it boils, but it's inspiring to see such a refined sound come from nothing.

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8. Steven Wilson "The Watchmaker"

Wilson's new solo project was highly anticipated, and this song perfectly encapsulates the breadth of styles that this album covers. It's emotional, gripping and features some wildly energetic guitar solos from Guthrie Govan. What more do you need?

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7. Dream Theater "Illumination Theory"

Dream Theater have been fantastically heavy in recent years, and this is an exceptionally good example of new drummer Mike Mangini's creative contribution to the band. The snare hits as hard as Jupiter head-butting Mars, all balanced by some beautiful string parts. Prepare yourself.

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6. Protest the Hero "Drumhead Trial"

The post-hardcore genre has gone way beyond its punk roots and deep into progressive metal by this point. This track even sounds like an 8-bit video game score at points, showing just how far they're capable of pushing themselves. And to do it all without the help of a record label? Remarkable.

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5. Alter Bridge "Cry of Achilles"

Don't be fooled by the moody Spanish acoustic intro; Alter Bridge have a sturdy metal track which has been praised by others including Dream Theater's John Petrucci.

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4. Black Sabbath "God Is Dead?"

Only the original metal band could make a comeback with a 9-minute song questioning faith - particularly with a video this bad. But it's not about the video, and the sound of Ozzy, Iommi and Butler back on record is inspiring as ever.

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3. Arctic Monkeys "Do I Wanna Know?"

There was a time when the Arctic Monkeys were just another indie rock band, albeit with a little more attitude than their peers. That was until their new album and singles like "Do I Wanna Know?" which has all the songwriting zest of rock's greatest names. Everything from the lyrics to the guitar tone deserves applause, and the Monkeys have earned a place in the upper echelons of this list.

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2. Alice In Chains "Stone"

Of all the grunge bands that made a comeback over the last few years, Alice in Chains have easily come out on top. Jerry Cantrell's guitar hits like a lethiathan, and burn you with emotional fuel that counts for more than being a cool hook. "Stone" is a perfect example of how this band are still kicking ass decades into their career.

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1. Queens of the Stone Age "I Appear Missing"

The highlight of QOTSA's latest album, and not least because it shows an emotionally shattered side of frontman Josh Homme. Our review of the album described the vocal performance of this song as "a triumph… the armour on rock's iron giant has finally cracked." And if the main verse and chorus aren't enough to hook you, the demented loop in the middle is crazy enough to put Dillinger Escape Plan to shame.

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That's the end of the top 10 rock and metal songs of 2013, as voted for by Ultimate Guitar readers. What's your personal favourite song of the year, and what do you think of the list? Let us know in the comments, and hit the "like" button below to give your friends an education in quality rock music.

54 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Cry of Achilles an awesome track!
    Most definitely. Fortress was one of the best albums of the year without a doubt as well!
    glad to see it up there but definitely not the best song on that album. Of Fortress I think its the weakest link. But glad my favorite band made the list!
    Loved the new Alter Bridge album but I thought Addicted to Pain was the standout track. And I also personally liked From Can to Can't better than Mantra. Still, all good songs.
    Favorite song of the year, just slightly above I Appear Missing.
    My dad got pissed off with this whole album when i was playing it in the car because of all the weird distorted bass notes in the songs. He thought it sounded like the engine playing up. But even he thought that it made the album a lot more industrial and raw and this song shows it off well. That bass line at the start is just heavy and mixed with the beautiful falsettos of Jonsi it just creates the right sort of contrast to make a great song
    I really wish the rest of the album was similar to Brennisteinn and Kveikur. The former is already among my favorite Sigur Ros songs of all time and while I liked some of the poppy stuff most of the album was filled with I would've loved to see them just go full dark and heavy. Would've made for interesting contrast to how delicate Valtari was.
    Loving the top 3. Here's my list: 1. Queens of the Stone Age - I Appear Missing 2. Thom Yorke - Ingenue (piano version) 3. Alice in Chains - Stone 4. Nine Inch Nails - Various Methods of Escape 5. Atoms for Peace - Default 6. Boards of Canada - Nothing is Real 7. Steven Wilson - The Raven That Refused To Sing 8. Queens of the Stone Age - The Vampyre or time and Memory 9. Nine Inch Nails - Came Back Haunted 10. Muse - Madness
    I like but Madness is a 2012 song. Also +1 for choosing the piano version of Ingenue. Best thing I've heard from Yorke in a while.
    Oh my mistake, I always thought it was 2013 for some reason. Regardless I forgot about The Pixie's EP so I'd probably put Indie Cindy over Madness anyway.
    I thought God is Dead was a terrible song. Sounds like a cover band trying to make a Black Sabbath song.
    I liked the first 4 and a half minutes of god is dead...i think it couldve been better had they ended it around that point...I actually thought it was going to end at that point when i first heard it and went "Oh ok then" when it went for another 4 minutes
    I think the whole ...Like Clockwork should be here, but maybe Macca's Alligator, Cage the Elephant's Come a Little Closer, Broken Bells' Holding on for Life, and AM's Arabella
    i need to adjust my tv aerial and hopefully it will be fixed
    Nobody mentions that Chris Adler recorded the drum track for Protest the Hero's Volition?
    I've never been more disappointed in a list. I'll just leave it at that. Good day.
    I would put Mantra on second, because whoa ! Josh Homme and Dave Grohl have been perfect on I Appear Missing and Mantra. Blowing songs.
    I would switch "Cry of Achilles" and "Stone", other then that it is a pretty solid list
    Nope, Alice in Chains and QOTSA should not be at the front of this list. As always, money talks.
    I personally love the jam session...I actually was inspired enough by it to start playing my acoustic along with it and got a nice sound
    Andrew Stockdale - Everyday Drone [or most other tracks on Keep Moving]. Felt it was very much underrated ...
    Really surprised to see Dream Theater on here, since the majority of the reviews I've read said that the entirety of the new album sounded like they were just writing what they knew and didn't take any risks. I thought that Illumination Theory sounded like a bunch of completely separate ideas poorly thrown into one barely cohesive track that was 22 minutes too long, but that's just my opinion.