Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Singles of 2014

Since I haven't been keeping myself up to date on my personal chart (I'm still thinking of a cool way to rejuvenate it); this year I thought instead of listing the singles that would have done well on that elusive chart, I'd list the singles that I've enjoyed (notice the omission of the word best in the title) over the last twelve months instead, with a little help from my Last.Fm account:

1. Rather Be - Clean Bandit featuring Jess Glynne 

First up is the first major hit from English electronic group Clean Bandit. Carried by the soulful, almost Adele-like vocal of its guest star Jess Gylnne, it's hands down, my favourite single of the year; A sweet melody, fun synths and heavy piano-driven composition that re-calls that of the '90s. And for some reason, it was the song that I had on repeat near the top of the year, when I was gradually coming out of the closet to my friends--and for that reason holds a slightly more personal meaning. Unfortunately, I haven't enjoyed Jess Glynne's solo material as much as I have this. Her second collaboration with the group will show up later. (Play count: 1,071) 

 2. Shake it Off - Taylor Swift 

When this hit Spotify back in August (before Ms. Swift removed it a couple months later) it took a hold of me and wouldn't let go, and I can't quite tell you why. Sure, it's fun and has some catchy lyrics, but it's no more remarkable than your average Katy Perry track. But still I love it dearly; so much so that it went on to become my most played song ever--overtaking Lauryn Hill's "Doop Wop (That Thing)." (Play count: 1,586)

3. Love Me Harder - Ariana Grande featuring The Weeknd 

Sure, "Problem," and "Break Free," were catchy, but I wasn't completely onboard the Ariana Express until this single, which I was enjoying way before she dropped its accompanying video. It has that pulsating, moody atmospheric aura that I've enjoyed a lot in today's modern R&B. (Play count: 626)

4. Yours - Ella Henderson

It sucks that this lovely ballad didn't get the success it deserved--despite becoming a third top twenty for the singer. I seem to be one of the few that prefers this to its much bigger predecessor, "Ghost," (omitting the somewhat underwhelming "Glow"). (Play count: 20)

5. Brain - Banks 

I don't often look at lyrics when it comes to most songs, but this one is particularly poignant--it accommodates a moody atmosphere, with sporadic, hollow beats and synths, while Banks dips into a slight lower register for the first half of the song (in comparison to the rest of the album) before some exhilarating distorted belts towards the end. I particularly love the lyric: "Everything is game; always trying to calculate. Trying to look smart, but not too smart to threaten anything they say." (Play count: 45)

6.  Like I Can - Sam Smith

When it comes to Sam Smith songs I've enjoyed this year, nothing really comes close to, "Leave Your Lover," but since that wasn't a single, the next best thing is the blustery guitar-backed, "Like I Can," (don't worry, "Stay with Me" shows up too). This also kind of reminds me Emeli Sande's "Next to Me." (Play count: 10)

7. Say You Love Me - Jessie Ware

Kudos to Ed Sheeran for assisting with this beautiful guitar-backed lovelorn ballad about a woman trying to save her relationship. Like on most of the songs on, Tough Love, Jessie sounds satisfyingly emotive.

8. Boom Clap - Charli XCX

One of the more top forty-charged tracks from, Sucker. Big booming bass, punchy synths, infectious chorus, there's no shortage of fun here.

9. Pains - Silk Rhodes 

This a recent discovery, I don't know a lot about Silk Rhodes since they don't seem to have a Wikipedia page, but this song is great--a soulful ballad, wrapped with elongated melodic tones, bursts of guitar, piecing strings and the lead singer's poignantly impassioned vocal. (Play count: 12)

10. Thinking Out Loud - Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran's second album was indeed a grower not a shower, however this was instant favourite.

11. Say Something - A Great Big World

When this hit the UK, I fell in love--so much that it became one of only three singles that I played over a thousand times--eventually the infatuation with this highly-emotional, piano-laced ballad wore off. But regardless, it's still quite the song. (Play count: 1,125)

12. Chandelier - Sia

I'll admit, this should be a little higher, but like "Say Something," after the initial burst of excitement, I seldom found myself revisiting this. But regardless, it's still one of the best pop songs of the year--gotta love that juxtaposition of those 808 machines and the more contemporary pop production. (Play count: 202)

13. Uptown Funk - Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars

My first introduction to this song was through X Factor contestant, Fluer East, who performed it during the semi-finals of the show--a recorded version of the performance topped the iTunes chart shortly after--prompting Mark Ronson to move the release date of the single a whole month and a week earlier. This funky horn-studded number has since topped the UK singles chart, landing Ronson his first chart-topper and his first charting single in the states, peaking at #3. (Play count: 146) 

14. Problem - Ariana Grande featuring Iggy Azalea 

Ariana took the second quarter by storm with this explosive lead single from her sophomore album, flaunting its sassy horn-section that seems to be ever so popular in recent times. Make that horns and a verse from Iggy Azalea. (Play count: 163)

15. 2 On - Tinashe featuring Schoolboy Q

While pop radio couldn't get enough of Tinashe's debut single, "2 On," I was focusing on the more downbeat and atmospheric, "Feels Like Vegas." It's a shame that it wasn't a single. But in any case, "2 On," is 2014's "Me & U," (Cassie) with a more capable vocalist: cool, current and understated. (Play count: 39)

16. Stay with Me - Sam Smith

Soul, soul, soul! Soul is what Sam exudes on this emotional ballad about a one night stand. This sense of emotion is amplified by the fact that the bold "choir" that we seem to hear assisting Sam on the chorus, is actually Sam himself, layering his vocal twenty or so times.

17. Loyal - Chris Brown

I don't think I'll love Chris Brown as much as I did in 2007 and before he beat Rihanna, but admittedly he has released some pop(and R&B) gems since then--I'm talking, "Look at Me Now," "Beautiful People," "Don't Wake Me Up," and now this--slick and somewhat vulgar entry into his limited set of good songs since the incident.

18. Real Love - Clean Bandit featuring Jess Glynne 

Yes, it's a "Rather Be" rehash, which does make me think Clean Bandit might be a one-trick pony. However, I wouldn't mind if they permanently inducted Jess Glynne into the band and made "Rather Be," rehashes until her vocals bleed. In short, it's a formula that sounds good and works perfectly. (Play count: 41)

19. Bang Bang - Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj 

Initially, one of the years most exciting releases, bringing together female artists with varying degrees of success and exposure to create this hyperactive, somewhat hyper-sexual and vocally energetic number. Released back in July, it's still in the top twenty on the American iTunes. (Play count: 21)

20. Fancy - Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX

Furst things furst, she's darillest... "Fancy," arguably the year's biggest pop hit, launching a seven week stay atop the Billboard Hot 100. Of course, the magic with this cut lies with Charli XCX's hook. (Play count: 16)

21. Ghost - Ella Henderson 

One of the UK's most beloved songs of the year, unfortunately, it doesn't look like America is going to follow suit, but they're loss I guess. It's also a shame that none of the follow up singles from her debut album Chapter One have found as much success as this. (Play count: 18)

22. Hideaway - Kiesza 

Assisted in the re-popularisation of '90s dance/house in 2014. I hope it sticks. I'm pretty sure at one point this year, KISS radio rebranded to Kiesza Hideaway.

23. Sexercize - Kylie Minogue

Britney didn't release anything this year, so this was the next best thing. I'm sure this isn't too far off something she would have done--oversexed and slightly inappropriate but still irresistible. (Play count: 182)

24. Crazy Stupid Love - Cheryl featuring Tinie Tempah 

Cheryl got off to a good start this year, landing her fourth number-one with this fun beat-heavy, horn-laced tune. It was followed up with the less than stellar but still record-breaking number-one, "I Don't Care." Which was followed by Cheryl's first documented flop album. (Play count: 49)

25. I Will Never Let You Down - Rita Ora

Before things went sour, Calvin Harris produced this cute poppy ditty for Rita Ora, landing her her fourth UK chart-topper. (Play count: 40)

Honorable mentions

Sweet Talk - Samantha Jade (46)
Standing in the Sun - Beyoncè (195)
Out of the Woods - Taylor Swift (188) [I'm sure it'll be a single soon enough, it's too good not to be]
Break Free - Ariana Grande (164)
Black Widow - Iggy Azalea featuring Rita Ora
Take That - These Days


Cook In / Dine Out said...

Another great list! I'll have to check out. Silk Rhodes; I haven't heard of them. I love everything Sam Smith put out this year and didn't realize that wasn't a choir on Stay With Me. Other faves: Blank Space, Do What U Want, Fever (Black Keys), Jealous (Nick Jonas), Anaconda.

Elvin Mensah said...

Thank you very much! I enjoyed 1989 a lot, but I feel like the only person in the world who doesn't like Black Space. I should have included Do What U Want and Jealous, I love those songs!