I'm going to be honest. As far as recent years are concerned, 2012 was my favorite for doing these Top 10 Best Songs lists. I still listen to that playlist. Such great music. 2014 did have its moments, however, and here they are. Oddly enough, of my top ten favorite songs from last year, the list contains two by dead people. Remember: they just have to have been released in 2014, not necessarily recorded in 2014.
Without further adieu...
10. Love Never Felt So Good / Michael Jackson
Admittedly, I wasn't bowled-over by this song upon first listen. 'It's kinda catchy,' I thought, but not much more than that. There's also the dubious practice of releasing a deceased artist's work. Throughout the year, however, I became more enamored with the track (commercials and the media did a lot for that). In the end, I feel like it's a pretty tight little ditty.
9. All About That Bass / Meghan Trainor
Curiously, this was a song that Ashley introduced me to. I say "curiously," because he rarely digs newer music, preferring the chords and melodies of stuff earlier than the mid-1990s. Anyhow, I thought it was a cute number. Repetitive? Yes. But fun. Definitely one of the notable songs of 2014.
8. Coming of Age / Foster the People
So, Pumped Up Kicks was a great song (all the way back in 2010), and I really wanted to get into the band that made it -- Foster the People -- I really did, but.... couldn't dig the rest of their repertoire. Until 2014, that is. Nowhere near as popular as their breakthrough track (though just as good), I quite like this song. It has a wistful, introspective, almost nostalgic tone to it.
7. Brooklyn Baby / Lana Del Rey
Alright, so, remember when I was big-upping 2012 earlier? A lot of that had to do with Ms. Lana Del Rey, who scored the #1 and #2 songs on my list that year. Her 2014 album, Ultraviolence, is a different beast than her previous efforts. It's much more suited to being listened to as a whole. The #7 song for this year is a standout track, however. I also quite like how, at one point in the song, she finds the most beautiful way imaginable (both vocally and musically) to basically tell someone to fuck off.
6. Hideaway / Kiesza
For years, when I heard of Hideaway as the title of a song, I immediately thought of De'Lacy. But I digress. We can talk about that awesome '90s club song another time. This year's Hideaway, by previously unknown (to me) artist Kiesza, hits all the right beats, literally. This is one of those dance songs where can predict exactly where it's going, and that works in its favor.
5. L8 CMMR / Lily Allen
Probably one of the most underrated voices in music today, Lily Allen once again displays her octave range to great effect with this ode to her man. It's a Let's Hear It For the Boy for 2014.
4. The Hanging Tree / Jennifer Lawrence & James Newton Howard
I saw the Hunger Games: Mockingjay movie during its first weekend of release. When Jennifer Lawrence sang this song, sparsely, during the film, I found it nice, though fairly unremarkable. It was nicely capped by a group of protesters making a strike at the heart of the film's oppressors. As they marched, they chanted the song, which was overlaid onto Lawrence's vocals. That was rather stirring. Then, in real life, the Ferguson verdict happened, and the song began to resonate with me. And it must have done so with others, because the song charted very highly on the Billboard Hot 100. Good stuff.
3. Shake It Off / Taylor Swift
Look, I'm a man who's damn near 40. There's not getting around the fact that I'm pushing middle-age so, yes, there is a part of me that does cringe a bit whenever I get into a song so... well... boppy. But, hey, it's catchy! Sometimes, you take-to-heart a bit of music that is so happy, so exhuberant, so.... youthful. This is one of those times.
2. She Used to Love Me a Lot / Johnny Cash
The second of two entries by a deceased artist, this song was originally record thirty years ago, but never released until 2014 (along with several others). It's difficult not to appreciate Johnny Cash's vocals, and here they're working overtime to tell the story of how he ran into an old flame in a cafe, and what transpired from there. This song tells a story, a concept that most modern music abandoned long ago.
1. Do It Again / Robyn & Royksopp
I was taken by this song the first moment that I heard it. The immediate dance beat, the strong, cool vocals of Robyn, the confident music of Royksopp -- it all comes together so well. And I love the breakdown in the middle, of why those involved should not be friends. Done with perfection.
And..... that's it. 2014 was aiiight when it came to music. Not necessarily a banner year, but not bad by any means. Here's looking forward to what's in store for our listening pleasure during the next 12 months!