The top ten Backbeat posts of 2013

Welp, we've reached the end of another year, and what a year it was here at Backbeat. From delving into extensive Phish analysis and listing the best Swedish Metal bands to running down the best light shows and rap lyrics of all time to offering up a field guide of the biggest concert buzzkills and ranking the ten hippest bars, we kept plenty busy. As we prepare to usher in a new year, here's a look back at the top ten Backbeat posts on 2013.

10. The ten best Southern metal bands Because of the relentless, pounding humidity and heat, a different kind of anger boils in the veins of Southern metal cowpokes. Southern metal is at all times heavy, like metal should be, but it's also lethargic at times, with a sweet tea in hand, sitting on the porch, and sometimes it's wild with beer while off-roading, or bluesy, with all its exes living in Texas. These bands have the dirtiest and most calloused hands in the metal world, spitting out a brand of attitude unlike the rest of the country.

9. Denver's ten hippest bars In July 2012, we put together a list of Denver's hippest bars, from the mainstays to the emerging hipster havens. The release of that list caused a considerable amount of hubbub -- since then, the list has grown and evolved, separating the tried-and-true from the fleeting trend spots and adding a host of newly-minted hip headquarters. Here's an updated list of Denver's ten hippest bars.

8. The twelve best moments of Phish's fall tour There was a lot of excitement leading up to Phish's Fall tour, as indoor Phish is a whole different monster from the summer shed extravaganzas that leave you in the sunlight for the first set; these shows get dark and dirty from the get go. The band rehearsed and wrote new material in a barn together prior to the Fall tour, and the work they put in was evident as new life was breathed into old classics that had become pretty standard, as well as just the sheer difference in moods that the same song would have on any given night.

7. Phish's twenty most interesting covers Phish is the greatest cover band on earth, hands down. Some songs have become staples -- so much so that we've come across fans, even well versed fans, who didn't realize songs like "Funky Bitch" was a cover -- while others are only busted out occasionally, sometimes only once. Of the myriad covers the band has played, these are the twenty most interesting.

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6. The twenty best versions of Phish classics Phish just finished a stunning run of shows on the East Coast last week in which the band debuted new material. While the new tunes will no doubt inspire much debate, the band's already sprawling archive of performances provides endless fodder for discussions of which versions are the best. Admittedly, there are probably as many amazing renditions as there are individual opinions and preferences, based on everything from longest renditions to most exploratory. And obviously, there are multiple online communities that have spent years dedicated to haggling over this very thing. Nonetheless, drawing upon all our years of Phish fanaticism, here's a list of the twenty best versions of Phish classics.

5. From Phish to Floyd, the ten best light shows For many bands, the light show is almost as integral to the live act as the music, so much so, in fact, that lighting directors are often heralded as an additional member of the group. These illumination wizards have the most open and creative space to work in, and as result, they're able to create some of the most complex lighting schemes. Here's a list of the ten best light shows.

4. The ten best Swedish metal bands Metal can't get any more cold blooded than in Sweden, where you'll find brain-freezing, below zero temperatures and snow drifts taller than concert halls. Despite having the most frostbitten, blackened and disfigured hands in the metal world, the Swedes rip apart metal like nobody else. As brutal as a ceaseless blizzard and with growls more bone-chilling than falling below ice, Swedish death metal will always breathe fire into the hearts of metal fans worldwide.

3. The ten geekiest metal bands Geeks love metal more than the computers on which they listen to it. They yearn for heavy metal that was forged by Orcs in the mountains of Mordor, smuggled halfway across the universe on Serenity and then discovered by Silver Surfer while scouting for delicious planets. These bands aren't necessarily geeks themselves -- many could rip the head off a vile beast with their bare bear hands. They are just universally beloved by geek mortals of Earth because of their diction and artistic execution. These ten metal brethren will get thee mentally armored for the battlefield that is Comic Con. So take up arms, climb upon that faithful steed and unsheathe thy reading glasses for this deciphered binary code of the best geek-metal bands.

2. The ten biggest concert buzzkills As vastly different as our tastes are when it comes to music, there's one thing we can all agree on, and that's our distaste for and subsequent amusement/bemusement/resentment with certain individuals who insist on behaving badly at shows. You know who we're talking about. The Talker, universally loathed by everyone, and there's The Setlist Adviser, The Overserved, The Show-off, The Director. Not that we're judging here or anything. God knows we've all broken at least one of these supposed rules of rock. Have you? Check out our field guide of the ten biggest concert buzz killers to find out.

1. The fifty best rap lyrics of all time After taking a look at the fifty worst rap lyrics of all time -- sorting through all the dreck and drivel to get to the crème de la crème of crappiness was tedious and rather exhausting -- we took much greater joy examining rap lyrics to find cleverness and wordplay worthy of being praised. Selecting the very best lyrics from a library of oh so many is a tough task. Is technical skill the prime consideration? Poetic quality? Historical significance? For the answers to those questions, check out the full countdown to see which rhymes struck as some of the best of all time.

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