Sunday, January 4, 2015

My favorite songs of 2014...

While I spend a lot of my free time reading (as evidenced by the fact that I read 135 books last year), music is and always has been a huge part of my life. Not only do I sing anywhere I can (sometimes to the chagrin of those riding along in my car), but I make sure I have my iPod with me wherever I go. (And it's no Shuffle or Nano for mE—I have the now-defunct iPod Classic, which in my case holds nearly 25,000 songs.)

There has been a lot of enjoyable music released this year—although as always, some of the songs I loved the first few times I heard them rapidly lost their appeal as every radio station played them once an hour—. My tastes are fairly diverse (although they hew a little more toward pop than anything else), and if it has a great beat and I can run to it on the elliptical, I'm hooked. (It is interesting that quite often I recognize songs I hear in spin class or in the gym more than anything else.)

Once again, I've compiled my top 25 songs of the year in random order, along with a few extras thrown in for good measure. Each song title is linked to its video (remember those?) on YouTube. What were your favorites this year?

Take Me to Church by Hozier: It took a while for me to learn what this song was actually about (and the video adds even more intrigue), which makes me love it all the more. Regardless of that, one thing is for certain: I am obsessed with Hozier's (Andrew Hozier-Byrne) voice. Gives me chills.

Harlem by New Politics: Add this song to the list of those that motivate me to move faster on the elliptical or whatever piece of gym machinery I'm on. I love the beat of this song, and it's one of the 25 most played on my iPod. (That is a crazy list I'll have to share sometime.)

Already Home by A Great Big World: While this wasn't as popular as the band's Say Something, I love this song more. I don't know why it chokes me up every time I hear it (I am a gigantic sap, I know), and the video, which stars Darren Criss and Jessica Szohr, is excellent, too.

In Conflict by Owen Pallett: This song is so complex, and Pallett's voice is unique and rich, and it reminds me of so many different things. The song doesn't start for like a minute and a half into the video, but it's utterly mesmerizing.

Shut Up and Dance by Walk the Moon: This is one of those songs I heard for the first time in spin class, but being a child of the 80s, Walk the Moon's sound hit me in all the right places. Their entire album (do they still call them that?) is terrific and 80s-tinged.

The Walker by Fitz and The Tantrums: I wish I could whistle so I could get into this song all the more. I've been a huge fan of Fitz and The Tantrums for a few years now, and this is another great one from them.

I'm Ready by AJR: I don't know where I first heard this song (it probably was the gym), but I still can't get it out of my head. It's fun and infectious, and I'm not ashamed to admit it's not the only song from a so-called "boy band" among my favorites this year.

I Wanna Get Better by Bleachers: Bleachers is the side project of Jack Antonoff, better known as the guitarist from the band fun. This is another song with definite 80s influences, and I love the whole album. Plus, Mary Kay Place is in this video. How could you go wrong?

All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor: Some think this song is a paean to being happy with what you look like no matter what, some think it is prejudiced against thinner people, and some probably didn't even know that this song caused any debate. But this is a tremendously infectious song that makes me want to dance until I'm reminded I'm a danger to myself and others when I do.

Don't by Ed Sheeran: Admittedly this song makes a little more sense when the f-words aren't edited out, but it's still a pretty fun song. And apparently he wrote it about Ellie Goulding. Discuss.

Love Me Again by John Newman: John Newman is a little like Rick Astley, in that you don't expect a voice like his to come from that face. I think he sounds a little bit (albeit in a lower register) like Roland Gift of Fine Young Cannibals. Great song, great voice.

The Man by Aloe Blacc: This isn't the song of Aloe Blacc's which played nearly every time the radio was on (that would be his partnership with Avicii on Wake Me Up), but this song shows off his voice and his cool vibe. Makes me smile every time.

Love Never Felt So Good by Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake: Amazingly, this song was written by Jackson and Paul Anka(!) for a 1983 demo, and a version was released in 1984 by Johnny Mathis. But this version, co-produced by Timbaland and Jerome "J-Roc" Harmon, sounds like a mash-up of a current hit and classic Michael Jackson, which is why it's fun.

Stolen Dance by Milky Chance: First of all, how can you not love an artist who goes by the name Milky Chance? That aside, this has a tremendously infectious beat and a retro-ish, 90s-like sound.

Riptide by Vance Joy: I'm a big fan of singer-songwriters, and Vance Joy's vibe really appeals to me. Plus it's one of two current hits to mention Michelle Pfeiffer (the other being Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars). The video is insipid, but who cares?

Shake It Off by Postmodern Jukebox (featuring Von Smith): Sure, the Taylor Swift version is the one on the radio, but I love Postmodern Jukebox's reimagining of the song as a vintage Motown hit. Plus, I've always been a fan of Von Smith since his days as a semi-finalist on American Idol. (If you like to hear utterly unique, throwback-like twists on popular songs, check out all of Postmodern Jukebox. They're amazing.)

Supersoaker by Kings of Leon: I've been a huge KoL fan for years, but until now, nothing had hit me quite like their first hit, Use Somebody. But after hearing this for the first time in spin class and becoming obsessed with it until I had to ask the instructor what it was, I have a new favorite. Still can't get it out of my head.

Fireball by Pitbull ft. John Ryan: I don't know whether you love or hate Pitbull (I'm more the former than the latter), but his songs are tremendously infectious. I could put any number of them on this list, but this one is a lot of fun.

Pompeii by Bastille: It took a while to get this song jackhammered out of my memory after hearing it so many times, but it still was one of my favorites of the year. It defies description, because it just combines a lot of really great elements.

On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons: I'm a huge fan of Imagine Dragons because I think they're constantly seeking to expand their sound. But that being said, given the year I've had, how could I not love a song with the lyric, "If you love somebody, better tell them while they're here 'cause they just may run away from you"?

Don't Stop by 5 Seconds of Summer: And here's the other boy band in my favorites list. This is another song I heard for the first time in spin class, and it's definitely one that gets you moving.

Best Day of My Life by American Authors: This song came out toward the end of 2013, but it really made its presence known in 2014. Even if your life isn't going as well as you'd like, this song makes you wish it was.

Love Runs Out by OneRepublic and Love Don't Die by The Fray: I grouped these two together because of their similar titles, and somewhat similar melodies. Both are pretty kick-ass spin songs.

Problem by Ariana Grande ft. Iggy Azalea: It's been a heck of a year for Ariana Grande, and it was difficult to choose just one of her songs, but I went with this one because I think her voice is dead-on here, and Iggy Azalea's contributions enhance the song.

Honorable Mentions

We Are Done by The Madden Brothers

Bang Bang by Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj

#SELFIE by The Chainsmokers

Raging Fire by Phillip Phillips

Turn Down for What by DJ Snake and Lil Jon


  1. If you like Pompeii, try Icarus. If you like Fitz and the Tantrums, try Fool's Gold. Can't get either of those two out of my brain.

  2. Fool's Gold I love. But thanks for the recommend on Icarus!!