Here is my long delayed best songs of 2014 list, as well as my buddy T.J.’s list. We did the same thing mid year. You may see some songs have moved up and/or down as the year progressed when stacked up to newer songs on both of our lists. Such a great year in music and this is just our personal top 50 but there are another 50 songs or more that could have easily been in their place. As always, my one rule is to limit it to only one song per artist, if I had not had done that there would only have been room for a few songs after putting in all of the Nick Jonas and Taylor Swift songs. T.J. does not have that rule as you will soon see.
Some notes from looking at T.J.’s list (which I just opened this morning) and mine is that we only have five of the same songs.
– I have Future Islands at 49 he has them at 31
– I have Red Eyes by War on Drugs at 18 he has it at 22 (our closest ranking)
– I have Perfume Genius at 8 he has it at 20
– I have Homeboy Sandman at 23 he has him at 16
– I have Jessie Ware at 5 he has her at 12
A few from his list almost made my list, Lana and Fatima and Jessica Lea Mayfield being ones jest left off of my list.
Most of these songs are on Spotify to listen to or Youtube to watch their videos or you can purchase at iTunes or Amazon or do something crazy and find them at a record store. Do enjoy.
Here is T.J.’s list – from 1 to 50:
- “Hudsonville, MI 1956” – La Dispute
I found myself coming back to this song time and time and time again. For the gut wrenching story. For the nostalgia vibe. For workout jams. For blowing off steam. For growing a pair. For making me fucking love guitars again. The volume got louder each time it came up. It wasn’t love that I felt for this song. It was brotherhood. And family always comes first.
- “Chandelier” – Sia
Sia turns her back to the audience when she performs and I still fell in love with her. That’s probably exactly why I fell in love. Not just because I like weird chicks, but because her voice alone pierced my heart more than any other this year. When I hear this song, I envision an entire musical about drunk girls making horrible decisions. I even have the choreography down and everything.
- “New Romantics” – Taylor Swift
Even though Tay broke my heart leaving Spotify, I was able to steal her CD from my 13 year old daughter, who is actually the one that hipped me to this song. A bonus track not even on the main album and it slays nearly everything else out this year. Even Taylor’s bonus tracks are better than your singles. GTFO.
- “Bored in the USA” – Father John Misty
The best musical of the year as FJM crowns himself the true heir of Randy Newman and Harry Nilsson.
- “Never Catch Me” – Flying Lotus/Kendrick Lamar
King Kendrick with Flying Lotus beats? Yes, please. The dancing kids in the video made me love it even more.
- “Lost In The Dream” – The War On Drugs
This is a placeholder for what I really wanted to write here which is “Lost in the Dream, the album” as my #6 pick. To me, the whole damn thing is one big rock symphony. It’s like going to your buddy Ethan’s smokey house with the band equipment set up in the living room. You drink half a bottle of vodka, smoke a few puffs, sit on their 1970s couch and listen to them play. You’re not sure where one song ends and another begins. All you know is that no numbness has ever made you feel this way.
- “Habits (Stay High) – Tove Lo
My kids sing this song “Gotta stay high-dryated all the time.” It’s like a companion piece to Chandelier and another part of the Pop musical I play in my head.
- “Love Again (Akinyele Back)” Run the Jewels w/Gangsta Boo
On the surface, this song sounds like RTJ’s recussitation of sex raps. The chorus “dick in her mouth all day” might initially set your feminism alarm off, but closer examination reveals a flip to the standard. The men are reminiscing about old loves, women they respected and miss. Gangsta Boo makes it clear when she brings it home in the 3rd verse. “I’ve got this fool in love again.”
- “Silver” – Caribou
Moody nighttime driving song of the year.
- “Motion Sickness” – Shabazz Palaces
Shabazz Palaces are like the Swans of rap. You love them but they also scare the shit out of you. Which makes you love them more.
- “Flawless Remix” – Beyonce/Nicki Minaj
The original version sounds like an art piece. The remix a high class strip club jam. Queen B reigns them all. “Of course shits gonna go down when there’s a billion dollars on an elevator.”
- “Tough Love,” “Sweetest Song,” “Pieces” – Jessie Ware
One cannot listen to just one Jessie Ware song. A trio of pop ballad brilliance is needed. Jessie says it best herself: “I could hear this song forever.”
- “Hollow” – Alex G
Bedroom mope of the year.
- “Higher” – SBTRKT/Raury
This is exactly how I rap to myself in the car only it’s about 85% gibberish.
- “i” – Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick didn’t drop an album this year. He did a lot of features then dropped this one solo single. One letter. He didn’t even bother to capitalize it. Long live the king.
- “Problems” – Homeboy Sandman
Ennui rap flow of the year.
- “Pains” – Silk Rhodes
The Impossibly Cool song of the year.
- “Lawman” – Girl Band
Fistfight song of the year.
- “Blue Suede” – Vince Staples
The intersection of Kendrick Lamar and Shabazz Palaces. Could’ve easily put the entire Hell Can Wait EP on this list.
- “No Good,” “Queen” – Perfume Genius
I couldn’t pick just one Perfume Genius song either and you really need to listen to both of these to grasp the scope of PG’s extraordinary album of pain and empowerment.
- “Hard Time” – Seinabo Sey
The “why didn’t anybody use this in a movie trailer” song of the year? This thing at least has HBO promo written all over it.
- “Red Eyes” – The War on Drugs
Only because I was too chicken shit to include the entire album as one song, I had to throw another one on here.
- “Continental Shelf” – Viet Cong
If I made a fanfiction Lost Boys soundtrack, this song would be the lead track.
- “Mashed Potato Baby” – Franky Flowers
I don’t know if there is a video for this song nor do I want to know because the one in my head is much better. I’m at Guthrie Green during Food Truck Wednesday and the entire video is super slow motion shots of me eating one of everything from Lone Wolf as beautiful people walk past and stare.
- “Childs Play” – SZA, Chance the Rapper
The sexiest song you will ever ever find about video games. Chance the Rapper’s W.C. Fields impression almost made this shit number one.
- “Fun Gun” – Mike Simmons
Is that a guitar solo? Yes it is and it’s fucking beautiful. Makes me long for summer, this one.
- “Jerk Ribs (Mount Kimbie Remix)” – Kelis
Whether it’s milkshakes or jerk ribs, fear not, Kelis. I am coming to the goddamned yard!
- “Uncast Shadow Of A Southern Myth” – Parquet Courts
The “I need to listen to my Dead Milkmen tapes” song of the year.
- “Turtles All the Way Down” – Sturgill Simpson
Country’s sole acid king sings the blues.
- “Talk is Cheap” – Chet Faker
“I’m gonna make you move with confidence. Then I’m gonna get you so pregnant.”
- “Seasons (Waiting On You)” – Future Islands
As if this song wasn’t great enough, dude had to go on Letterman and show us what it would look like if instead of screaming “Stella!!!” like a chump, Stanley Kowalski said “fuck it” and started a pop rock band.
- “Go” – Grimes/Blood Diamonds
Emo Queen goes full pop and saddos everywhere wept. I fell more in love and vow to take my photo by the Grimes Elementary sign and send it to her.
- “Johnny And Mary” – Todd Terje/Bryan Ferry
Bryan Ferry still gots it.
- “Sometimes” – Oscar
Whenever I need to transport back to 1997 and remind myself to chill the hell out and have fun. With a dash of “whatever.”
- “Her” – Majid Jordan
It can’t be a coincidence that his initials are M.J. because Jacko’s influence is all over this track that’s begging to be your #1 late night make-out jam.
- “I’m Not Part of Me” – Cloud Nothings
Go ahead and pretend this is the Foo Fighters playing Cain’s Ballroom in 1997. You can even hear a little 80s Replacements creeping in. Musical time machine song of the year.
- “American Beauty” – Girlpool
Lyric: “It’s not enough to watch a movie, eat me out to American Beauty.” Yep, it’s the “sounds like my last date” song of the year.
- “Castaway” – Curtis Harding
Soul music, son. Soul music.
- “La Neta” – Fatima
An auditory melting-pot of soulful girl group influences from various decades and yet completely contemporary. The Lauryn Hill of an alternative universe.
- “High” – Freddie Gibbs, Madlib, Danny Brown
The Chronic 2014 starring three of modern hip-hops best.
- “Overcoming Me” – Christopher Owens
Christopher Owens channels Buddy Holly and holy shit am I about to go through a 50s rock phase?
- “The Greatest” (Cat Power Cover) – Halls
Cold. Sad. Haunting. Some serious winter shit. #CoverSongMonday song of the year.
- “West Coast” – Lana Del Rey
“Me, Lana? I’ve got the music in me?” Yes, yes I do. Now hold me and let’s look pretty crying together.
- “Want Remover” – Protomartyr
Channels the same vibe that made the Rolling Stones beloved in the 60s. That’s the 1960s not the Rolling Stones of their 60s which was in like the 90s.
- “Oblivious” – Jessica Lea Mayfield
My air guitar jam of the year. Moody. Sexy. And seriously that little guitar riff during the first :20 seconds will STILL NOT get out of my head.
- “Love on the Run” – Blitz the Ambassador, Nneka
If Chappelle’s Show was still on this is the kind of musical guest he would have on the show. Got that great Common/Kanye/Chicago/early Erykah vibe.
- “0 To 100 / The Catch Up” – Drake
Drake gets so much shit on the internet even my kids think Drake jokes are funny. But when this song comes on they get really uncomfortable and ask me to change it. Also, pretty sure Drake is the only one still making Forrest Gump references.
- “Insane Parties” – Radstewart
This loud-quiet-loud track is worth it just for the lyric, “if you go out and get drunk in a Native American headdress, then you’re a cunt. I don’t care if you’re ⅛ or what.”
- “Let My Baby Stay” – Mac Demarco
The track just screams “solo Lennon” to me which is all I needed to give it endless spins this year.
- “I Love You But I’m Lost” – Sharon Van Etten
Because all lists should end in tears.
And here is my list, 50 to 1:
50. Shakira and Rihanna – Can’t Remember to Forget You – you would think that the combination of two heavyweights like Shakira and Rihanna would have set the world on fire. Although this is a great song, it is a little too by the book dance standard with not much message behind it. Fun song though.
49. Future Islands – Seasons (Waiting on You) – I will be the first to admit that I discovered Future Islands a few years before everyone got into them. You can find an image of me front row at their set at Fun Fun Fest 2011 on RollingStone.com I had their song from their previous album On the Water ‘Give Us the Wind’ very highly ranked a few years back. That song was epic. This song is great as well but what put them on the map this year more than their great songwriting was their even greater live shows.
48. DJ Snake/Lil Jon – Turn Down for What – this is just a fun song and is as instant a dance hit as there could ever possibly be. In fact, if you don’t start cutting a rug when this song comes on you should leave the planet.
47. Neon Trees – Sleeping With a Friend – Neon Trees are to me as consistent a band out there. Each album is good for 1-2 solid hit songs, and all of their hit songs are unique from one another, so they are diverse and evolving. Lets face it, this song is relatable, we’ve all been in that spot where we’re attracted to one of our friend’s friends.
46. Future – Honest – I like Future’s songs of rap success and excess. ‘I got bitches kissing on bitches I’m just being honest / I’m a rock star for life I’m just being honest..’ – this song makes me want to be a rock star if all the luxuries that Honest speaks about come with it. Granted they probably don’t but it makes for a fun song.
45. Nico and Vinz – Am I Wrong – another great pop song from this year. I think the message in pop music this year was to be yourself and say what you feel and this song with a dancehall reggae vibe is a good example of that. I heard an acoustic version of this once while driving around and they do a great version when they strip down this song as well.
44. Lykke Li – No Rest For the Wicked – really loved Lykke’s new album this year. The problem with her is that all her songs are equally awesome to the point that none stand out. This was my favorite from this album but there are two or three others that are just a hair behind, like Love Me Like I’m Not Made of Stone, for instance. I think she got her groove back on this album.
43. Lone – 2 is 8 – now if you know me you know I love my songs to have lyrics, so that I am putting a few musical numbers on my list this year means that these songs have grooves so infectious, they are just as good as any song with those emotional lyrics I love so much. This song makes me want to roller skate or something.
42. Beverly – You Can’t Get It Right – another trend I noticed this year was surfer pop punk songs by female led bands, this is the first of a few on the list. It is like Joan Jett meets Lettes to Cleo or Juliana Hatfield on this one.
41. clipping – Body and Blood – this song is dark, and evil, and industrial. The video is haunting. clipping could be the group to take over from Death Grips except it looks like Death Grips are coming back so both bands will just have to continue making kickass music and the world will be a better place.
40. Jennifer Lopez – I Luh Ya Papi – I know this may be the point where my list loses all credibility but this song is really a good dance song and the video that goes with it objectifies men so if anything it is a song about equality. If a girl ever dedicated this song to me on dedication night on a pop station I’d love her forever.
39. One Direction – Clouds – I know that this may really be the point where my list loses all credibility but…..One Direction are on a roll. Four albums in four years each one growing their sound and ability. Going by recording and live performances, they are the hardest working band in the business for the past five years. This song breaks from their standard bubble gum pop and is an attempt at an arena rock sing a long, much like a few tracks were from their previous album Midnight Memories.
38. The New Pornographers – War on the East Coast – this is a great retro sounding song by this all star band that has other bands at a disadvantage. I guess that is why I can’t rate this song higher because really every member of this band is exceptional and could (or does) lead their own band.
37. Hospitality – I Miss Your Bones – another great rocker girl track. The rapid fire vocal delivery on the main verses that go along with the drum and guitar riff work exceptionally well together.
36. Mitski – Townie – this is a fun song with a lot of distortion sung by a girl just searching for a fun night out with boys while sneaking out the window. ‘I want a love that falls as fast as a body from the balcony’. Mitski reminds me of Guyville era Liz Phair which is never a bad thing.
35. Popcaan – Everything Nice – definintely the best reggae-ish song of the year. It has a natural flow to it that makes one want to just find a beach somewhere and dance and drink and love life.
34. Todd Terje – Inspector Norse – this makes TWO songs with no lyrics on my top songs of the year list, which is entirely surprising to me. Basically all you have to do is take this song to a nightclub, turn it way the fuck up, and voila – instant dance party. Song is nearly 7 minutes long and the party on it never stops. Ever.
33. Panda Bear – Mr Noah – it takes over a minute before this song kicks in, but when it does it is a great noisy electronic song that grows on you. I don’t like Animal Collective too much, but when them or one of their solo members or affiliates make a good song, they make a killer song and that is what this one is. This song is made by hipsters, for hipsters, but us regular folk can enjoy it too.
32. YACHT – Terminal Beach – new wave dance party all the way on this one. You like some Pleasure Victim Berlin or some Missing Persons then this is the song for you. YACHT is amazing live so if you ever get the chance be sure to check them out.
31. Dum Dum Girls – Trouble Is My Name – I can never get enough of the chilled out beach rock that the Dum Dum Girls bring on every release. This is such a smooth song it feels like you are listening to the sisters of the Beach Boys.
30. Katy Perry – Birthday – this could’ve gone on last year’s list as well but the single was released this year (same goes for a few other songs on this list). To me this song has a Sheila E vibe in the verses and you have to love the sexual innuendos all over the place.
29. Claire London – Do Dark Things – I found this artist a very weird way, a friend of mine does photography in NYC and did a shoot for Claire a few years ago. I gave her a listen and really dug her but figured she had given up on music. Flash forward a few years and ran across this song online one time and was amazed again. This is a powerful pop song and I like it as the girl is exerting her control, a common theme this year in music was powerful women singing powerful songs and I think we have the Spice Girls to thank for all this.
28. Jason Derulo – Trumpets – This song is silly but so catchy you can’t help but jump around the room when the trumpets kick in. ‘Is it weird that your bra, reminds me of a Katy Perry song’ may be one of the most ridiculous lyrics ever recorded but it works in this song, somehow.
27. Coldplay – Magic – yep you are reading my list right. Mother fucking Coldplay. This song is smooth, it reminds me a bit of Dave Mathews Band epic song Stolen Away with its beat. A great love song from a band that knows the formula for success and exploits it. Bonus points to the lead singer for Coldplay for making my girl Gwyneth Paltrow available again.
26. Johnny Marr – Easy Money – yep you are reading my list right. Even though Morrissey released an album this year, it is Johnny Marr listing on my top 50 and not Mozz. Did not feel Mozz’s album. Much like Marr’s previous album, his new release is some of the best stuff he has done since those golden years known as The Smiths.
25. Bleachers – I Wanna Get Better – Jack Antonoff of fun. and also known as the guy that dates Lena Dunham made the great indie rock anthem of the year in this song. Much like a lot of songs on this list, I’m loving the use of keyboards/piano on songs this year. This song makes me feel hopeful and should I say it, better?
24. Ryn Weaver – OctaHate – this is the type of song that Ariana Grande could only dream of making. It is a r&b/pop/girl power song that has a powerful hook and strong vocals.
23. Homeboy Sandman – Problems – my buddy TJ posted this song and I fell in love instantly. The piano loop on this song drags me in, but the rhymes delivered so smooth and sarcastically make you want to play the song over and over. Also, it directly/indirectly takes a dig at hipsters in one lyric which is always fun.
22. Chrissie Hynde – Dark Sunglasses – little known fact, Chrissie Hynde released her first ever solo album this year. Some really good songs on the album and this first single off of it is a smooth rock song. If you dig this check out the rest of the album I love it.
21. Fever High – That’s So Typical – I heavily promoted this song in my mid year list and still have not fallen out of love with it. The best song released since the 80’s that should have been released in the 80’s.
20. Alex Dezen – Hellp – I will never figure out why more people do not like The Damnwells, Alex’s band. His songwriting is spot on, and in this song you can feel the desperation as he shouts the chorus. Soulful, heartbreaking.
19. MKTO – Classic – this is just a great pop song and I like how it references other pop songs. If I was a younger lad this is the kind of song I would quote when trying to pick up a young girl. The opening line is just great ‘oh girl you’re shining/like a 5th avenue diamond’ so yeah I’m totally dropping that on some poor unsuspecting girl one day.
18. The War on Drugs – Red Eyes – this band got lots of acclaim this year but this is perhaps the only song of theirs that I really got into. It is an American rock song through and through that is on par with some Springsteen and Petty.
17. Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues – this song just rocks, if you don’t listen to the lyrics you would rock out to it as if it was the Sex Pistols. What is important about this song though is that it talks of the struggle of a transgender person, without feeling too sorry for the singer of Against Me! who has gone through a lot of criticism during her transgender coming of age. Also, it is a love song, so it hits on all angles.
16. Jenny Lewis – She’s Not Me – ahhh, the jilted girlfriend song of the year. ‘all those times we were making love / I never thought we’d be breaking up / bet you tell her I’m crazy’. This song has a bit of a twist after the first two verses sound like the guy did her wrong and found an easier prettier girl. Listen for yourself I ain’t gonna spoil it.
15. Shamir – I Know It’s a Good Thing – Man the voice on Shamir is just amazing. This song has some retro piano disco vibe musically that makes you wonder if this is something that is a descendant of Donna Summer or Andrea True Connection or Steve Wonder himself.
14. Ought – Habit – the stream of conscious lyrics on top of a Pavement type old school indie rock score really hits home. I take it as the story of a dude when he starts getting into someone and the feeling he feels and wanders if she feels it too.
13. Chumped – Hot 97 Summer Jam – more girlie punk rock. Another summertime surf punk song from a girls point of view waiting for her summer dude to come take her into his arms. This is like a guitar driven sequel to Steal My Sunshine.
12. Nick Jonas – Jealous – ‘I don’t like the way he’s looking at you’ this start songs off. A great chorus this is as ultimate a pop song as one can create. I also like how deep down it is a manly song. Hear me out, who hasn’t had their girl looking hot out in public and noticed other dudes staring her down and not gotten the smallest bit of possessive jealousy flared up? And the girl in this song, I mean wow ‘you’re too sexy, beautiful, everybody wants a taste’ that sounds like as smoking a girl out there.
11. Chromeo – Jealous (I Ain’t With It) – the better of the two songs about male jealousy. This song is more danceable than Jonas’ song on the same subject so it gets the nod. Dance party all over this one as you can feel some Dirty Mind Prince era beats on this joint here.
10. St. Vincent – Digital Witness – I’m digging the use of horns on songs these days and yeah this song has horns that get inside your soul. St. Vincent consistently puts out great songs on a yearly basis and this track is perhaps her most radio friendly so I’m sad that it is not on mainstream radio.
9. Saintseneca – Happy Alone – this song delivers one of my favorite lines of the year ‘to presuppose this precipice / could be climbed by any one of us / that was my misjudgement / I guess I best just shut up and face that / I’ll be alone’ – a great song about being alone, but being alone in ones happiness. In other words, my theme song.
8. Perfume Genius – Queen – just one of the best glam rock songs ever written. If you like T Rex, Roxy Music, Dory era Bowie, Jobriath era Jobriath, you will bow down to this song. If you don’t like any of that, you’ll still fucking love this song!!!
7. Blake Mills – Don’t Tell Our Friends About Me – a rare country song on my list, but this song is a great song about a guy not wanting his girl to tell their mutual friends about how bad he’s treated her, going as far to admitting that he physically abused her. So yeah, way more emotionally jolting than standard red solo cup country fare.
6. QT – Hey QT – every now and then I fall in love with a song that I shouldn’t it, this year, this is that song. It is labelled as PC Music, whatever that is. It is a dance track, it is K pop or J pop or Chipmunk pop. Whatever it is, it is brilliant and I wish I was this girl’s cutie.
5. Jessie Ware – Tough Love – Jessie made the album of the year for me, so it was hard to put this song at just the five spot but I think it is because there are some other songs on the album just as good. Her voice is hypnotic, the beats are pulsating, and the lyrics of yearning and regret and forgiveness are resonating. ‘you have me crying out, crying out, for more….’
4. Ingrid Michaelson – Girls Chase Boys – one of my top songs from the first half of the year and I still cannot get enough of it. Just an ultimate pop song about the fact that relationships come and go and we shouldn’t ‘make it harder than it has to be’ when your heart is eventually broken.
3. How to Dress Well – Words I Don’t Remember – ‘you know that I love you baby’ this song starts off, in some soulful Maxwell-ish vibe. Though vague, I take it as a love song, and all love songs should be vague, so yeah. This song also has a great finale that the beat builds to. The beats upon beats coupled with the soulfulness sining of this song really make it a complete song in my opinion and it was the top song for me at mid year point and was only beat out by two songs the latter half of the year.
2. Taylor Swift – Shake It Off – was there ever any doubt that this would be one of my top tracks? Just like its Shake It Off predecessor by Mariah Carey, Taylor delivers a song about being yourself and not worrying about what haters are saying. In this age where your every move is caught on facebook or twitter or snapchat or tinder or youtube, the ability to still be yourself and not compromise that is something that needs to be promoted more often, and Taylor does this at every opportunity.
1. Hozier – Take Me to Church – Every now and then, there is a song that is made that is so great you realize on the first listen that it will stand the test of time. That is what this song is. It is about humanity, about love, about religion, about acceptance, about the lack of all these things. I was at a bar one time and Losing My Religion came on and this one guy I barely knew that was sitting at the table told me that it took many years, but he finally gets what Losing My Religion was about, I can see myself listening to Take Me to Church 20 years from now and saying the same thing. The song has metaphor after metaphor and you wonder what girl or situation evoked the kind of emotion that Hozer put into music and verse, and you wish that one day you can feel that kind of passion too.
thanks for reading and please list any comments or cheapshots or your own favorite songs below.