It was time for a shake-up in 2013 and plenty of artists were ready to bring it, showing how powerful pop music can be as a platform for ideas, social change and, um, twerking.
Here's a look at the best songs the year had to offer:
1 Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, featuring Mary Lambert, "Same Love" (Macklemore). What they accomplish on this song is stunning. They offer an unflinching defense of equal rights for everyone regardless of sexual orientation, and take a stand against bullying, while remaining good-natured, humorous and sticking to a rhyme scheme. The chorus from Lambert is catchy, memorable and simple in its explanation, "My love, she keeps me warm." "Same Love" is a hip-hop anthem that turns the previously hip-hop norm on its head. It's a pop song that doesn't worry about its theme being unpopular. It's also an artistic triumph for indie underdogs.
2 Kanye West, "New Slaves" (Def Jam). This rant about race relations and materialism would be compelling without music. The spare but gripping industrial backdrop makes it all the more potent and shows off exactly what made "Yeezus" such an achievement.
3 Drake, featuring Majid Jordan, "Hold On, We're Going Home" (Cash Money). A sleek, retro-soul track that would have been a hit in any of the past five decades. It's effortlessly cool.
4 Arcade Fire, "Reflektor" (Merge). The grand disco epic tries to get to the bottom of a complicated relationship while still keeping the beat and paying homage to vintage David Bowie.
5 M.I.A., "Bring the Noize" (Interscope). Her sonic assault never lets up, with rapid-fire raps and cutting rhymes as she tries to instigate a revolution.
6 Jay Z, featuring Frank Ocean, "Oceans" (Roc-a-Fella). Those who were quick to dismiss "Magna Carta . . . Holy Grail" as the work of a bored millionaire must have missed Jay's fiery tribute to his ancestors who died in the ocean as slaves shipped from Africa.
7 Vampire Weekend, "Diane Young" (XL). This giddy rocker careens recklessly through indie-rock styles and Elvis Presley references as a cautionary tale about the dangers of living too fast.
8. Beyonce, featuring Frank Ocean, "Superpower" (Parkwood/Columbia). The biggest surprise from B's surprise album is this doo-wop-influenced declaration of how love makes both halves of the couple stronger.
9 Lorde, "Royals" (Universal). Rebelling against the bling-filled "reality" of today's pop by simply describing her own reality.
10 Paramore, "Still Into You" (Fueled by Ramen). Everything is sweetness and light as Hayley Williams uncorks one of the happiest pop songs in years that still manages to sound cool.
HONORABLE MENTION: Joan Jett, "Any Weather" (Blackheart); Kellie Pickler, "Ring for Sale" (Black River); Daft Punk, featuring Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers, "Get Lucky" (Columbia); Robin Thicke, featuring T.I. and Pharrell, "Blurred Lines" (Interscope); Lady Gaga, featuring R. Kelly, "Do What U Want" (Interscope); Disclosure, "When a Fire Starts to Burn" (Interscope); Ryan Star, "Bullet" (Ryan Star); Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert, "We Were Us" (Capitol Nashville); Fall Out Boy, "The Phoenix" (Fueled by Ramen); Ashley Monroe, featuring Blake Shelton, "You Ain't Dolly (And You Ain't Porter)" (Warner Bros.)