Late as usual, but I still managed to crank this bad boy out. I went through my normal back and forth of pondering and debating of what to include on this list. I have the daunting task of determining if any of these songs are actually “worthy” enough. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it. I try to go into this without being biased, but it’s probably impossible not to be. So with this list, you get my unique spin on some great songs. What I noticed from a good majority of these songs, is a theme of overcoming some sort of obstacle or almost super hero moments of triumph. I like that word, “triumph”. It’s a great way to describe a very successful year of songs, in my opinion. So without further ado, here are my top ten favorite songs of 2014.
#10. Lana Del Rey – West Coast
2014 marked my breakup with Lana Del Rey. (It didn’t happen till after this single came out, though) We got along so well. Her music and videos moved me. I defended her, when others were against. Then I saw her in concert, and although not terrible, I realized the whole idea and concept of LDR was quite basic and unappealing. “West Coast” was still letting me hold on to those better times. It wasn’t till I listened to all of Ultra Violence that I officially threw in the towel. That’s kind of why I’m glad I still gave her a spot for ‘Best Songs’, because “West Coast” really is a great song, in an otherwise disappointing year for her (in my opinion). You can tell that the song has some heavy Dan Auerbach production, which is very agreeable to me. The song itself is very sultry and dreamy, much as we’ve come to expect from this songstress. But now she’s managed to really hone in on what she’s good at. “West Coast” encapsulates what should have been accomplished by the rest of Ultra Violence, but failed; a whimsical, catchy, unique, and well produced piece of music. Maybe we’ll make up again in the future, but for now, I guess I’ll just have to cling to the “West Coast”.
#9. TV on the Radio – Happy Idiot
I generally like TV on the Radio, but I’m not “in love” with them. I’ve tried really hard to like them a lot more, because some of their songs are really lovable. But all around, it’s not always the greatest. Their new album, Seeds, is a step in the love-felt direction, that’s for sure. This is actually some of their finest work. The shining gem off that album is obviously, “Happy Idiot”. The song thoroughly describes this dumb phase we can get into after a breakup, and the numbing effect it can have. The song is honest, because we’ve all been there, sadly. Things just seem easier in this “idiotic” state, where “ignorance is bliss”. Is that truly the case? No. But it helps get us by for awhile at least. This identifiable theme, paired with consistently catchy backing music, makes for one of TV on the Radio’s, and one of this years, best songs.
#8. Grimes feat. Blood Diamond – Go
So what if this song was made for someone else? And so what if that someone else is pop songstress, Rihanna? To be honest, I can’t even picture Rihanna doing this song, and that’s because Grimes has made it all her own. Things happen for a reason, and although Claire Boucher originally wrote the song with Rihanna in mind, the minor rejection served its purpose. The end result is Grimes stepping outside her comfort zone and creating something we wouldn’t be expecting from her. Sure, she got a lot of backlash from the song. She even scrapped the album she was working on because of mixed reviews from the song. In my opinion, she should be embracing it. She managed to create a whimsical song with marvelously charming vocals. And here’s where it gets really nice and interesting; the beat drops and the song explodes. I might sound like some EDM-lovin’ fan right there, but I assure you, I am not. Claire Boucher managed to sprinkle in EDM beats without making it horrible. In fact, she made it sound wonderfully important to the song, and gosh darnit, if it doesn’t make you want to dance. So go ahead, hate the song. I’ll just be dancing on my own, singing along to one of the biggest surprise hits of 2014.
#7. King Tuff – Black Moon Spell
THIS. This is what I’ve been missing all year. That garage, scummy, sultry, rock song. I just recently found out about King Tuff, but when I heard this song, it was like a piece of my heart was complete. Normally this void is filled in with the likes of JEFF the Brotherhood, but they’ve been noticeably absent with any new music this year. Parquet Courts stepped up to the plate, but they were missing that glamorized, sensationalism. This song opens up with such an awesomely loud guitar riff, that it sets the tone for a cleverly devilish, and sinful piece of work. The grungy guitar loops, the vocals that are awkwardly high-pitched, and the bewitching lyrics, make you feel like you’ve been taken to some dark, underground, rock world. If this is what it’s like being put under a “Black Moon Spell”, I am 100% on board.
#6. Father John Misty – Bored In The USA
Josh Tillman is back and more of a sarcastic asshole than ever. I wouldn’t want him any other way. He has managed to create a song that kind of completely defines life in the USA. And as the title of the song suggests, the fate is often quite boring and not what the American dream is supposed to be, or often ends up to be. We go through the trials and tribulations of money, marriage, health, religion, and the ultimate mediocracy of life. It’s not what it’s all cracked up to be. In general, the song is a grim outlook on life. We all hope for more, and yet, this is what we end up with. FJM takes on this task of sincerity with such grace. In fact, the isolation of the track and focus on the satirical lyrics, actually show of his great vocal talent more than ever. When the laugh track makes an appearance, well that my friends, is just the cherry-on-top, to a well crafted song.
#5. Jack White – High Ball Stepper
This is what I’ve been waiting for. This is what rock music has been missing. In fact, when I first heard this song, all I could think about was when The Black Keys used to put out good and grungy, blues-rock music. There, I said it. Wow, that felt good to get off my chest. But let’s not get side tracked here. We’re here to focus on this badass song from none other than the badass himself, Mr. Jack White. This is when he is in the zone. When he is at his finest, actually. He shows and proves why is a guitar god. No vocals are even needed. I’m good with exactly the way it is. Like, 100% good. I love the playfulness throughout, with the guitar and drum parts. Then you get a little piano part that creeps in, and it almost sounds cute, dare I say. This cuteness is quickly bombarded with awesome, in-your-face guitar work. We’re just not worthy Jack, we’re not worthy.
#4. Perfume Genius – Queen
This song has so much frickin’ attitude. So much confident and radiant attitude. I love it. The song makes you feel empowered just as I’m sure Mike Hadreas felt while making it, and feels while performing it. We can all learn a lesson from this song, no matter who we are or what we believe. Just be confident in yourself, my friends. Subsequently, this song produced my favorite lyric of 2014; “No family is safe, when I sashay”. BOOM. Right there. Crowning achievement. Oh, and it doesn’t end there. After that quirky line, the drums pound and the keyboard/synths kick in to make the song even more reaffirming. This is Mark Hadreas’ best work to date, and I am so happy for him to have gained all this confidence, but even more so happy, that a fantastic song like this exists.
#3. The War on Drugs – Red Eyes
I have almost no idea what Adam Granduciel is singing about in this song. Like, I just can’t understand him, or at least I understand every fifth word. Somehow, this doesn’t even make a difference. The song is still pretty damn near perfect. “Red Eyes” feels like an anthem, like a Bruce Springsteen anthem. The highlight of this tenacious song is when Adam emotionally belts out, “but you abuse my faith”. Soon to follow is an exuberant, “Wooooh!”, and you just know they’re on the right track. It’s small details like this that keep the song on point. All the instruments, all the compelling vocals, just keep your undivided attention. The music is just consistently amazing and always impressive.
#2. Future Islands – Seasons (Waiting on You)
When my year-end Spotify listening results came out, there wasn’t even a question of what my most listened-to song was. It was kind of more embarrassing to find out that my top-ten, most listened to songs of 2014 were pretty much all Future Islands. Oops. That being said, I love this fucking song. I dare you to listen to this song and not move. I dare you to listen to this song and not have your head involuntarily shift back and forth. I dare you! It’s pretty much impossible. The song is just that damn mesmerizing and bold. Sam Herring’s voice is so on point and so very powerful. When he gets to the chorus, it’s like the most triumphant occurrence has happened. We made it! To what exactly? I have no clue. But with this song, we are all victorious. Thank you for pushing us over the finish line, Future Islands.
#1. Cancer – Same as Digital Photography
After just one listen, I knew this would be my favorite song of the year. That’s a pretty impressive feat. You’re probably looking at this and thinking, “who the fuck is Cancer”? Well, no need to be rude, I’ll tell you. GEEZ!
Cancer is comprised of two very talented Danish musicians; Nikolaj Manuel Vonsild (When Saints Go Machine) and Kristian Finne Kristensen (Chorus Grant). Yeah yeah yeah, I know you’re also thinking, “Does this girl ever stop finding weird music acts from Denmark”? The answer is no, so just deal with it and hear me out.
These two gentlemen come from two very different bands and have managed to create some very deep and beautiful sounding music together. The finest example of this is with the song, “Same as Digital Photography”. The opening line to the song is, “I imagine, I imagine, this is how it feels when you’re nothing at all”. So simple and yet so effective. This song saddens my heart. Nikolaj’s voice quivers with almost a sense of fear. Fear of loss, heartbreak, love, or all of the above. And it’s not just the vocals that portray all this sorrow. Kristian Finne provides some guitar chords that are just begging to make me cry. It is such an impeccable combo. Such a chilling and magnificent combo. I hate and love the way it makes me feel. But there is no doubt that I love every bit of sound this song is making. It is by far the finest piece of work I’ve listened to all year. A number one spot that is entirely well deserved.