It’s that time of year again. This is the fourth time I’ve done this: ‘Love On Top’ being #1 in 2011, ‘Anything Could Happen’ in 2012 and ‘Body Party’ in 2013. The overall standard has dipped somewhat this year, mainly because there was only one big comeback moment this year (thanks Taylor) and not enough new artists got on with it. It was exciting living in Q1 this year because it looked like we’d have the new Madonna, Rihanna, Say Lou Lou, Ella Eyre, Chloe Howl, MNEK (I could go on), but the promise wasn’t delivered. Nonetheless, there have been some really good songs this year and here are 40 of them:
20. Becky Hill – ‘Losing’
The ‘thing’ about this Becky Hill song is that it sort of sounds like it could sit on ‘Tangled Up’ by Girls Aloud. The easy option for Becky Hill would have been to release a house track because hey, she had a Number 1 with one. But no, instead she released a Girls Aloud album track. Three more popstars that should release songs from ‘Tangled Up’:
1. Rita Ora – ‘Can’t Speak French’
2. Pixie Lott – ‘Black Jacks’
3. Ace Wilder – ‘Fling’
19. Years & Years – ‘Take Shelter’
I can’t lie, I wasn’t initially wasn’t sold on ‘Take Shelter’. It’s a bit middling on first listen; if it was a criminal, it would ask to steal your bag. However, about a month ago, I was making an omelette (plain, because I only had two eggs in my kitchen). I decided to listen to this, and the beat took hold of my hips. As I was pouring the beaten egg into the frying pan, I could feel my lower body becoming hypnotised by this song. In that moment, I felt like Bruno Tonioli. Also in that moment, I realised that this is a good song (excellent cover art too). My omelette, on the other hand, was diabolical.
18. Tove Lo – Habits (Stay High)
I may never have been to a sex club or thrown-up in a bath-tub, but I still love this song. This version of the song sounds like the sad parts of a break-up, whereas the Hippie Sabotage remix sounds more like the bits when you’ve had a drink and feel a bit numb. I personally prefer the original because my first love in life is a massive chorus. I hope that Tove Lo has a really good 2014 because ‘Habits’ taking off in America has sort of thrown a massive spanner in the works over here, but release ‘Thousand Miles’ over here and all will be sorted (to be fair the same could be said for ‘Not On Drugs’ and look how that worked out).
‘Chandelier’ is amazing because it sounds like 3AM. It sounds like that moment in the club when everyone is getting off with someone, and you’re the only one not. There are two options at this point: you can either get with the guy who has been up to about ten other guys already or you can have a dance by yourself. At this moment, you hear a sort of trap-influenced beat kick in. “I FUCKING LOVE THIS SONG!” you scream. It’s ‘Chandelier’. You decide to have a dance by yourself and have a better time than you would with that guy. That is what I imagine when I listen to ‘Chandelier’ anyway.
I would say it’s a shame that Danity Kane 2014 didn’t work out, but the album wasn’t particularly good and G.R.L do the whole ‘well-rounded’ girlband thing much better. Having said that, ‘Lemonade’ is still such a bop, and is ‘fresher’ sounding (if you pardon the pun) than any other girlband song this year. I particularly like the bit about putting sunglasses on ‘to block out shade’. I hate to break it to them but in order to block out shade, they need to go to a wide open space. There’s a nice lake in Kensington Gardens that doesn’t have too much shade, but the last time I went every single swan followed me around the lake so perhaps not.
Does anyone know why ‘I Luh Ya Papi’ wasn’t a hit? Is it because Jennifer Lopez is (wrongly) a bit of a nostalgia act now? Her live performances are always incredible, but she hasn’t done anything ‘new’ since ‘On The Floor’. This song is also a bit of a risk, given that it sounds like nothing that has been a hit this year. Comparisons can be made to the Beyonce album, but then nothing from that (bar ‘Drunk In Love’) was a massive hit. But oh well, it’s a fucking brilliant song and well, she almost delivered the video of the year with it. Almost, just because I wish she pushed the whole ‘men as the video hoe’ thing a bit more.
Is anyone else still in shock that this song is written by Meghan Trainor? I want to hate it by default for that reason – ‘All About That Bass’ is the worst song of the year. But anyway, ‘Sledgehammer’ is the first time Fifth Harmony sound like a proper ‘you know what, we’re fucking great’ girlband and for that, I think we (I) can let the Meghan Trainor thing go. Having said that, lets not forget that they cancelled the release of this here to go with ‘Gentleman’ by The Saturdays (‘Bo$$’). At least the intention of having a hit was there I suppose. Side note: the video needs more sledgehammer action (the horse needs smashing).
At the time this came out, I was a bit confused as to the font selection on the artwork for ‘Ghost’. But now I get that they represent the song as a whole. The typewriter font represents the verses: they think that they’re really authentic, when really they’re just a bit 5/10 in the grand scheme of things. The ‘Ella’ font though is properly Eurovision-tastic though; you can imagine Ella being the winner of the Lithuanian ‘Voice’. The chorus of ‘Ghost’ is very Eurovision in that it’s catchy to the point of only needing one listen to get it. Btw, I’m yet to visit a river to pray, but I imagine the Southbank to be quite a good spot.
The more bored One Direction are with being One Direction, the better they get (I mean really, did no one think to make a more exciting single cover?). Anyway, there’s something very ‘romantic camping weekend’ about this song. ‘Romantic’ and ‘camping weekend’ is an oxymoron, but imagine toasting marshmallows on a fire. You and ‘significant other’ return to the tent, only to find that it blew away in the wind. You decide to sleep under the stars but upon laying down, find that the ground is super muddy. So you spend all night eating marshmallows. That’s what I get from it anyway.
This may be borderline delusion, but I still think this would have won Eurovision had Sweden not decided to go MOR for the first time in a while. Yes, it was ‘the right thing’ for Conchita Wurst to win, as a ‘song contest’, this Ace Wilder song sounds more ‘pop in 2014’ than any other entry this year. Also, there aren’t enough songs about not being able to do anything. I love a slutjam obviously, but I think Ace Wilder has perfectly tapped into the ‘watches This Morning’ demographic that not enough popstars tackle. I hope there’s an ode to Nik and Eva Speakman on the Rihanna album.
When it was announced back in Q2 that Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj were doing a collaboration, I expected it to be shit. I do heart Ariana, but it all just looked like a desperate attempt to get Jessie J another hit. But it turned out to be really good obviously. I would even go as far as to say that it is Lady Marmalade 2014. I know it’s a bit basic, but both songs are about being strong women but letting men (definitely men – Jessie J is involved) have it when they want it. I still don’t get the ‘booty like a cadillac’ – ‘cadillacs are long – but I compared my bottom to a cadillac a few days ago so yeah.
I have a confession: I hadn’t voluntarily listened to ‘Ugly Heart’ since October before writing this list. I listened to it a lot around the time Simone passed away earlier this year, and I find it really sad to listen to. However, this song achieves the impossible: it makes a ukulele sound good. I remember being in Year 9 discussing what we would do if we were prime minister. Rather than cutting the deficit or ‘Europe’, I decided I would destroy every ukulele in the country. I’m glad now that I never got the chance to be PM aged 15 because we would not have the ‘Ugly Heart’ chorus, which would be a very sorry state of affairs.
Say what you want about Iggy Azalea’s rap ability (or lack of), ‘Fancy’ is an incredible song. Charli XCX does a live solo version and it’s as good as the Iggy Azalea version. Which means that the song itself is just really good. My favourite thing about it is obviously the video, because anyone who likes ‘Clueless’ is pretty perfect in my eyes. Aside from that, I like that this song sounds a bit like what Gwen Stefani should be going for in 2014. It’s a bit shouty, a bit aggressive but most importantly, exactly what a song about not giving a fuck should sound like. ‘Hollaback Girl’ 2014, dare I say.
This was Number 1 in my middle-of-the-year list, and to be completely honest, my love for it hasn’t decreased at all. It’s just the next six songs are all better. The thing about ‘Problem’ for me is that it is so infectious. There’s a scene in ‘The Mummy’ when a scarab beetle crawls underneath John Hannah’s skin, gradually making it’s way around his body. ‘Problem’ does the same: the PG slutjam bit gets you in the hips before the horn gets the rest of your body. Unlike the scene in ‘The Mummy’, ‘Problem’ should not be shot. Instead, once ‘Problem’ has you, you need to just ride it out for the three-minutes-and-fourteen-seconds.
If ‘Problem’ is the scarab beetle scene in ‘The Mummy’, then ‘Shake It Off’ is the part in ‘Love Actually’ where Hugh Grant is dancing around 10 Downing Street. Songs about ‘shaking’ are generally excellent, but this one is perhaps the best because it feels like, for the first time, Taylor Swift got in on the joke. Does anyone think Taylor Swift stays out too late? No, but I like the whole casual attitude to not really caring. I was giving a presentation and my lecturer stopped me because I wasn’t taking it seriously enough (what’s not serious about a Karen Walker gif?!?). I feel like ‘Shake It Off’ is about getting stopped by a lecturer and getting over it.
What was everyone doing on September 3 this year? I was watching daytime TV so that I didn’t have to pack for my move back to London. Which is a shit way to spend a September 3. What I’m trying to say is that on September 3 2015, I want to recreate ‘Rooftop’ by hosting a rooftop barbecue. Seeing as it is the best dream-pop song of the year (which is the best genre), it’d be rude not to. I hope that the ‘boys in blue’ won’t show up, and I hope that conversation will be more than just ‘hi’ and ‘hi’. I wonder what Zara Larsson’s favourite barbecue food is. I’m thinking either a mixed-bean burger or a chicken kebab.
‘And God said, “Mustard on the beat, ho” and then there was mustard on the beat, ho’ [Genesis 1:3].
If God created a slutjam with a ‘sick beat’ when Adam and Eve were created, he would have created ‘2 On’ by Tinashe. The song would have been playing in the Garden of Eden when Eve took a bite of the apple. The serpent would have uttered the rap to Eve. As Adam and Eve left the garden, they would have performed the flawless choreography from the Tinashe ‘live experience’. What a song.
There’s something euphoric about this Rita Ora song. Yes, she is very basic. But this song is pretty undeniable. It’s the best thing Calvin Harris has done since ‘We Found Love’, and I like how it sounds like a proper pop song rather than a good dance song with an amazing drop. The lyrics of the chorus sound like the words of a woman who literally would never let someone down. Which is obviously ironic given that Rita did let Calvin Harris down. But in that moment, it sounds like she is trying to convince him that buying a puppy/shared sandwich grill/scatter cushions is a very good idea.
I guess most people reading this will follow me on Twitter, and will know that I love ‘Break Free’. Much like the Rita Ora single, this isn’t the most groundbreaking song, but it’s euphoric. Dare I say it but ‘Break Free’ reminds me of a modern day ‘I’m Coming Out’ or ‘I Will Survive’, in that they all sound like the kind of song you’d listen to whilst ‘shedding’ the troubles of yesterday and deciding to get on with it. It sounds like a gay anthem in the sense that it sounds like the relief you feel after coming out. Even though it did nowhere near as well as ‘Problem’, ‘Break Free’ feels like the moment when Ariana Grande became a proper popstar.
1. Charli XCX – ‘Boom Clap’
I have a confession to make – I wasn’t always 100% sold on this song. It’s one of those songs that I appreciated and really liked, but I never saw it as groundbreaking in the sense that it sounds like the better moments on ‘True Romance’ (see: ‘Nuclear Seasons’ and ‘Stay Away’). I saw her at Heaven a month ago and I was more taken by the new stuff over ‘Boom Clap’ (‘Sucker’, in particular, sounds like a 10/10 pop song). But it hit me a couple of weeks ago how good this song actually is. To pinpoint a precise location where the Charli XCX-shaped meteorite hit me, I was walking past the Our Lady of Willesden church. To truly set the scene, here’s what the church looks like:
Quite a nice church, right? Anyway, I was on my way to meet a date, and was starting to get a bit nervous. Is my hair sitting perfectly? Is my beard too long? Can I really pretend to be a sophisticated man when I’m wearing sushi-print socks? I was listening to ‘Boom Clap’ as I walked and it suddenly hit me: this song is the first song I’ve ever heard that perfectly sums up what it feels like to go on a date with someone. It felt like my heart was going ‘boom, boom, boom, clap’. This song sounds like that warm feeling you get in the pit of your stomach. It feels like the pacing up and down because the date is late. It sounds like waiting for an appropriate moment to fart. And for that, it has to be the best song of 2014.
OTHER 10/10 THINGS ABOUT ‘BOOM CLAP’:
- The ‘BOOM BOOM BOOM CLAP’ intro.
- The ‘first kiss just like a drug’ bit.
- The part after the first chorus where it sounds like Charli is driving a spaceship.
- The pink jumper in the video.