My 50 Favorite Songs of 2014

Hey, it's a tradition, even if my blog has stopped being one!

Each song links to a YouTube video.
Or you can can check out the Spotify playlist (which is missing seven of the songs, thanks a lot, Taylor Swift!)
Or you can download all 50 songs here.

50. Octahate – Ryn Weaver
Ryn’s got a quirky voice, and this track showcases her range. The song starts of sort of slow, but by the time the song hits that powerful, thumping chorus, you won’t want it to stop.

49. Turn Down for What – DJ Snake & Lil’ Jon
Even if the song sucked, the video would have made it a classic. We’ll be enjoying this one at parties for years to come.

48. On the Rocks – The Rural Alberta Advantage 
If you were to stereotype this band by its name alone, you’d probably assume it’s a Canadian indie folkish rock band, but actually… no just kidding, they’re exactly what you initially thought. And good, too!

47. Sirens – Cher Lloyd
I wasn’t immediately sure I liked this song by the Brit songstress, but it’s haunting enough to keep creeping back into my consciousness.

46. Young Hearts – Strange Talk 
Bring on the synthesizers! This Australian band keeps it light and playful.

45. Rude – MAGIC!
I have a love/hate relationship with this popular song. It’s incredibly dumb, but I can’t help but laugh each time I hear the singer whine, “Why you gotta be so rude?” in the reggae-esque chorus. I wouldn’t want this loser to marry my daughter either.

44. Give Me Back My Hometown – Eric Church 
Let me be upfront to my “anything but country” friends – this is the first of three country songs on the list, and the only one with mainstream success. Don’t write it off too quickly!

43. Empty Gold – Halsey 
There’s a slight Ke$ha vibe here in the chorus, which I hesitate to point out since that might scare you away, but hear it out first. Halsey’s website’s bio says, simply, “I am Halsey. I will never be anything but honest. I write songs about sex and being sad.” “Empty Gold” fits into the latter category.

42. Paper Crown – Alec Benjamin
Benjamin was signed after generating a buzz on YouTube and you’ll hear why. Ballads are often pretty, yet rarely this catchy.

41. Rather Be - Clean Bandit & Jess Glynne 
Mainstream radio got it right with this infectious pop tune. Don't mind me, I'm just dancing.

40. My Silver Lining – First Aid Kit
Folksy female harmonies that’ll send a shiver down your back. That’s a good sensation, I reckon - no need for an actual first aid kit.

39. Sticky Situation - Baylor Wilson
Wilson was the young bratty girl on Survivor this past season, and apparently her aspirations to become famous extend past reality television and into country music as well. I listened to this song first as a joke, and a joke it is - she pretty much kills the "sticky situation" metaphor by listing a bunch of sticky things like stepping in gum, melted Dairy Queen, and a movie theater floor. It's as catchy as it is cringy though, and I'd be a liar if I didn't admit this song is always, well, stuck in my head.

38. Stoner – Young Thug
You don’t have to toke to enjoy this song by the Atlanta rapper. The pleasant beat makes it a good choice for dancing to drunk as well!

37. Mess Is Mine – Vance Joy
I gave you the scoop on “Riptide” in last year’s list, and it turns out his 2014 album is all good quality. If you like his vibe, you’ll similarly dig “Mess Is Mine.”

36. Heavy Crown - Y.O.U
Normally laying down so many musical components into one song is a recipe for disaster, but Y dot O dot U finds a way to turn this busyness into an enjoyable song.

35. Blank Space – Taylor Swift
Swift poking fun at herself really suits her. I was a little “Huh?” at this song at first, but I get the appeal now. I still swear she’s singing “Starbucks lovers,” though.

34. Lonely Neighbor – Oh Honey
If you can’t take another cute twee duet in your life, I won’t blame you. Still, this one is too adorable for me to deny. They make the cut!

33. I'm Not the Only One - Sam Smith
"Stay with Me" may have been his breakout hit (can I brag that I had Smith on my list back in 2012?) but I'm more partial to his more recent single, which uses his signature voice to do something less expected than a straightforward ballad.

32. Cigarette Song – Raury
Whoa, how is a high school student this talented? His song “God’s Whisper” got the most attention this year, but I’m even more drawn to the killer songwriting of this track.

31. First – Cold War Kids
This song is all about sequence. First you listen to this song, then you like this song. Nothing too complicated.

30. Gunshot – Lykke Li
Li’s consistently good – this is my favorite track off her commendable album I Never Learn.

29. Options – Brika
Keep your eye on Brika – she’s liable to break it big soon. I love how she lilts her way through this minimalistic song.

28. Ghosts - Made in Heights
Are we sure this isn't Janet Jackson? The vocalist is an aural deadringer. In lieu of new material from the actual Ms. Nasty, I'll certainly take it, though!

27. Chandelier - Sia
I've put Sia on this list three times in past years, including all the way back in 2008 - it's the rest of the world that's been late to the party. It's understandable why "Chandelier" finally made her a chart-topper in her own right - it's the perfect showcase for her extreme vocal gymnastics.

26. Budapest - George Ezra
What sets "Budapest" apart from every other dude-with-guitar song? The kinda-falsetto "oooohs" he sprinkles throughout the song, that's what.

25. Step – Vampire Weekend
I can never decide whether I like Vampire Weekend’s energetic songs or their slowed down interludes better; the good news is I don’t have to. “Step” is a lullaby for the thinking man.

24. Cleopatra - Weezer
I'm not arguing that Weezer is still in its prime, but if "Cleopatra" had been included on one its beloved mid-90s albums, today, you'd love selecting it on a jukebox with your friends and scream-singing "You can't control me no more Cle-o-patch-a-ra…"

23. I Wanna Get Better - Bleachers
Bleachers is an appropriate name for this band since it sounds like a pop-ified song that could get played at a sports arena to pump the crowd up. You'll be shouting the chorus by the end even if you don't want to. Who's up for the wave?

22. Ain’t It Fun – Paramore
You’ll agree with her that “it’s fun” for the first half of the song, and by the time she kicks in with not “crying to your mama”

21. Dream and an MPC – Golden Coast
For those suffering Foster the People withdrawals (yeah they put out an album this year, but was meh,) here’s Golden Coast. This song is high energy and fun – just don’t ask me what an MPC is – should I know what an MPC is?

20. Not Alone - Aram Mp3
Representing Armenia, Aram put together my favorite (earnest) Eurovision entry this year. The crescendo from soft ballad to intense dubstep makes the most of its three minute time limit.

19. Jealous - Chromeo
The kings of cheesy dance tracks have done it again. It's cool because it's so uncool, if that makes sense. Oh whatever, just enjoy it for what it is.

18. Wasted Love - Matt McAndrew
The Voice's Fall 2014 runner-up wasn't my favorite or anything (that distinction goes to Luke or Troy), yet when they provided him with an original song to perform in the finale, I was instantly impressed. Shooting to #1 on the iTunes charts just a few hours after being released - and even becoming a Top 20 Billboard song based on the strength of these sales - it's clear I wasn't the only one drawn to the songwriting here.

17. XO - Beyonce
Beyonce's late 2013 surprise album remained a force this year. Though I don't generally count myself a member of the Beygency "XO" is too enchanting to ignore.

16. No One Needs to Know - Haerts
If this song is trying to feel like a throwback from an 80s girl band, it's hitting all the right notes. Between the whispering and almost comical spoken word interlude, you just want to pinch this song’s cheek and tell it how adorable it is.

15. All This Could Be Yours – Cold War Kids
And it can so easily be yours, too, once you listen to this grandiose tune by this decade-old Long Beach band.

14. i - Kendrick Lamar
Lamar's one of hip hop's most sought-after artists to collaborate with currently, but he proves he doesn't need to accompany anyone to make a great record with this song all about himself. It's a musical self-esteem boost - a little self-affirmation is hardly a bad thing.

13. Face the Fire - Michelle Chamuel
Chamuel is an under-appreciated electronica singer, and "Face the Fire" is probably her best non-cover song single. It's fun and full of energy.Who can resist that "Whoa-ah-oh, whoa-ah-oh" chant? 

12. Argentina (Parts I, II, III) - Tokyo Police Club
It's basically three songs in one, but I don't consider it cheating since the band released it as a single unit. The progression tells a story that'll put a smile on your face - just remember to "smile with all your teeth at once." It's well worth the long ride.

11. Two Weeks - FKA twigs
There's a reason every music blog loves this song - it's fucking great. Don't let her gentle, breathy voice fool you - the lyrics are raunchy. Even tuning the lyrics out, though, you can feel the song's slow, deliberate sexual energy.

10. Simplethings - Miguel
True to its name, Miguel takes a stripped down approach to this song, written for the Girls soundtrack. (Pretend I didn't say that last part if it helps.) It's that beautiful simplicity that resonates to create an unforgettable tune.

9. Beggin for Thread - BANKS
I've been excited to share this song by the up-and-coming L.A. indie artist with y'all for a while, and shortly before typing up this list, I heard this song on KROQ. Sounds like the secret's out, and rightfully so. The song boasts in the bridge "My tracks are better" and she's right - her whole album is worth a listen/purchase.

8. Alexandra - Hamilton Leithauser
Warning: this song leads to excessive stomping, thigh slapping, and head bobbing. The former lead singer of The Walkmen is clearly having a good time with this tune. If the subject of this song is half as fun as the song itself, I'd love to meet her.

7. Turtles All the Way Down - Sturgill Simpson
This IS your grandaddy's country. You don't have to normally be a fan of the genre to appreciate its classic qualities and Simpson’s amazing voice. I’ll have whatever drugs he’s having - and he lists a few!

6. Colorful Kids - Ha Ha Tonka
Okay, so technically this song came out on a 2013 album, but you got to give an indie band an opportunity to tour to get the word out on a song as great as this one. Easily one of my favorite choruses I've heard in a long time.

5. Shake It Off - Taylor Swift
No use in hating, we all love this song. I've polled even friends who don't like pop music, and it's (near) unanimous that this is a fun, smart song. Considering I've previously liked literally only one Swift song throughout her whole career, I'm excited about this new, pop-heavy direction.

4. Ellie - Eastside
I can't tell you much about who created this mash-up/cover of Ed Sheeran's "Don't" and Chris Brown's "Loyal," but I'm nevertheless all about it. "Consider it a feminist response to some of the misogyny in mainstream music. Before this cover, I felt guilty wanting to sing along with the phenomenal hook "These hoes ain't loyal" and now that it's disassociated from Chris Brown, I can do it relatively guilt-free.

3. Don't Tell 'Em - Jeremih & YG
Okay, Jeremih drew my attention by borrowing from "Rhythm Is a Dancer" (someone should have thought of that sooner) and then he made a fan out of me with that scatty "Don't Tell 'Em" chorus. I couldn't begin to count how many times I drunkenly sang this song to passersby in Las Vegas a couple of months ago.

2. Sexotheque - La Roux
The band that made one of my previous favorites "Bulletproof" has recaptured that magic with this breezy dance song - it's understated yet amazing. The perfect soundtrack to a casual dance party. Let's not pretend you won't get a kick out of singing about a "sexotheque" either.

1. Seasons - Future Islands
It's not often that my favorite song also tops most music critics’ lists (my tastes are so Pitchfork!) This one took me a couple of listens, but thanks to its deceptively dance-y qualities, I bounced around my room to this on repeat. Plus, it leaves you emotionally confused in the best way possible – how did they turn a woeful reflection on expired love into something so triumphant?