2014 has been full of highlights so far. Kimye finally married, Solange threw a punch at Jay Z, Lana Del Rey found favour with the critics and Kylie Minogue joined The Voice. Yep, 2014 is making memories one-by-one and to celebrate weve put together our Top 20 Songs of the year to date. Call it a soundtrack to the trials and tribulations of months passed and a cheers to the months ahead.
Together we sat down, fought, laughed and cried over our favourite songs of the year. What is immediately apparent is that 2014 has been a year for new artists. Four of our top five artists only released their debut this year and three of the Top 20 are yet to release an album. While many of us had to forego personal favourites in the name of democracy, weve attached them for the aural pleasure on the next page.
Hover over the images below and click to scroll down and read our spiel about how each song appeased our little ears in the first half of 2014 or head to the very bottom for our custom-made Top 20 Soundcloud playlist.
20 Pharrell – Hunter
Of all the songs we could have pulled from Pharrells 2014 release Girl, why did we pick Hunter? This song makes you want to hit the town on a Saturday night. In the signature Pharrell Williams style, it offers up a slow blues and catchy swagger brimming with confidence. From the moment we all heard this track, we were hooked.That infectious guitar line that has been stamped across Pharrells tracks since Get Lucky is in its purest form here. Its a song for those on the prowl- stalking around, chest puffed, Saturday Night Fever style.
A pop song centred around brass. St. Vincent has never been one to follow trends and yet again shes carved a masterpiece from the oddest of stones. Digital Witness is an extension of the chapter started between her and David Byrne but introduces a new-found attitude that permeates her self-titled album. Upon the albums release, Annie Clarke said I wanted to make a party record you could play at a funeral. Digital Witness is an apparent critique of peoples need to document everything rather than experience. She told Under The Radar I wrote a will not too long ago, and in it I wrote ‘When I die, I want you to scatter my ashes in the Internet. No doubt this song will accompany that.
James Vincent McMorrows Post Tropical was one of the more surprising releases of the year. After a pretty mundane debut, Post Tropical was a spectacular melting pot of genres from hip-hop to folk and pop. Gold is the centrepiece of that album. The brass instrumentation shines through amongst his flawless falsetto. The staccato in the second chorus rings like a military-call leading the song into a powerful crescendo. Stunning.
17 Röyksopp + Robyn – Do It Again
Everyone knows the feeling. The wines flow, the music throbs and bed doesnt beckon until sunlight. The aftermath is never fun yet it never deters. Do It Again is the perfect anthem for early-morning club dwellers. Its got a thumping bass-line, lush synths and an uber-melodic bridge that couldnt be by anyone else but Robyn. The Swedes are yet to screw anything up, ever, so three of them together could only mean good things. The lyrics are almost pain-stakingly obvious but such is the songs charm. It worked for Daft Punk (One More Time) and it works again here. No need to think about when the drop is. Like a valiant host, Robyn tells you and then unleashes a mighty chorus. The marriage between pop and electronica has never been more glorious.
16 Porter Robinson – Lionhearted
Crowned The Hottest Record in the World Right Now, by BBC Radio 1s Zane Lowe, Lionhearted, offers up something completely different to Porters usual heavy EDM thumpers. For those who call themselves die-hard Porter Robinson fans, you may not warm to the new sonic territory he is breaking. However, the interns felt that as one of our Rebels of EDM“, this incredibly talented 21-year old has stepped up to the plate as an exciting artist to watch in 2014. His hotly-anticipated Worlds album is set to be released on August 12, until then, this electro house anthem teamed with Swedish indie-pop band Urbane Cone, offers up a reborn sound peppered with playful melodies, atmospheric vocals and a dancey sentiment.
15 Glass Animals – Gooey
The Alt-J of 2014 had something more to offer- an RnB-inspired swagger that reached under the skin and slid along with its icky lyrics.The title of the track is perhaps the most pertinent depiction of its slippery melody. The mention of perfume, pooh bear and peanut butter further contribute to making this song the most slinky piece of matter since flubber.
While Devotion was brilliant, the question was always what Jessie Ware would do next. It turns out all she needed to make was the subtlest of changes. In Tough Love, she reaches for the heights of her vocal range taking us to territory she’s never explored before. With the help of Two Inch Punch and Benny Blanco, she’s delivered a song that ebbs and flows with the most subtle of dynamics. The flurry of synths that greet the second chorus are the perfect climax to a song that could’ve easily flatlined without the right care.
Beyond having one of the most brilliant visual marketing campaigns this year, Chandelier is an absolute tune. The RnB-tinted verses suggest that Sia had the intention of writing a hit for Rihanna but the chorus crushes that belief. There aint no way Rihanna could scale the vocal heights that Sia hits in the chorus’ main hook. Its a song to drink to, a sequel to R.Kellys I Believe I Can Fly and a statement that cements Sia as one of the best pop writers in the game. As far as a pop song goes, thats three ticks.
12 Lana Del Rey – West Coast (Zhu Remix)
No one has polarized the interns opinions more than Lana Del Rey – as an artist, as performer and as a person. However, on the eve of Del Reys new album, Zhu slapped down this baby with impeccable timing, doing her work justice and much, much more. The signature Del Rey nostalgia is replaced with the punchy thump of percussion, killer chopped vocals and effortless hypnotic 3am house energy. While the song remains sultry, oozing sex, sex and more sex it brings about an overwhelming power to make you want to dance uncontrollably in a club.
11 Chromeo – Old 45s
Cmon, how could you not enjoy this song. Its catchy, evocative, totally nostalgic for an era we had absolutely nothing to do with and just a good old bundle of fun. I dare you NOT to dance to this baby.
10 Zeds Dead – Lost You (feat. Twin Shadow)
In our First Impressions back in May, we struggled to say a nice thing about this track. look how the turntables have turned. Canadian bass producers Zeds Dead have snuck into our Top 10 with their track Lost You, a nifty collaboration with Twin Shadow and DAngelo Lacy. This Mad Decent release is just another example of how versatile and ambitious their catalogue of music has become. With the rubbery sound and colourful trippy video to compliment this house anthem, directed by Grandson & Son, prepare to be taken on a psychedelic trip of sonic creativity.
9 How To Dress Well – Repeat Pleasure
It’s true- RnB has been revitalised in a big way. The issue with that is the genre quickly gets crowded with mediocrity. That’s why Tom Krell‘s Repeat Pleasure is such a triumph. His falsetto is flawless while the songs subtle guitar and light-as-a-feather beat allow the melody to be the hero. It’s a touch of Ashanti with a little bit of Baby Face and a hint of Mariah. He keeps it tasteful by putting his own nuanced touches on it. The name doesn’t lie. This one has truly been a repeat pleasure.
This is a hazy pink sunset dancing on a darkening ocean just as much as it is first light breaking come morning. Its with you for the long haul and will see you the whole night through. That vocal sample and RnB edge is an absolute killer combination. Everything Jamie xx touches is pure gold and this is no different.
7 Little Dragon – Pretty Girls
When I first heard Frank Oceans Lost last year, I was certain, and lets be honest, I am still certain, hed written it exclusively for me. While I dont have double D, big full breasts, I do have a tendency to get lost in the thrill of it all and trains and I just dont get on. Similarly, when I first heard Pretty Girls, it spoke directly to the escapist in me and perfectly crystalised that vulnerable, quivering moment before you grab the bare essentials, cut all ties and dare to run without looking back for fear of getting stuck.
The song that made us all realise wed actually missed this loveable red head. Uptight Downtown is La Roux saying Yeah Ive been gone five years, but a pop song is a pop song and I write a damn good pop song. Throughout, she strategically places bits and pieces that lure you straight to the dancefloor- the lyric move, move, move, the carnivale synth and the Bowie-like guitar riff. A 70s-tinged, spot of brilliance.
5 Chrome Sparks – Goddess
This song elicits such a strong visceral response. Its otherworldly in its ability to capture every inch of your mind, body and spirit and take you, full throttle on an intergalactic journey to destinations unknown, before nursing you gently back to earth. Its rich, dynamic and full of texture and stardust twinkle.
This song is everything weve come to know and love from our bearded mate, Chet Faker; undeniably smooth and incredibly sexy. I get a little more swagger in my walk every time shuffle pulls this gem out… And by shuffle I really mean its on repeat. Its got the right amount of pulse and bounce to keep you moving the whole way home. And that brief moment where you think hes finally done wondering why youre no longer in a circle before coming back for round two? WOW.
3 Caribou – Can’t Do Without You
We really cannot do without you in our top three Caribou. This track was an instant hit with the interns. Described as the ninja song – a song where you think youve heard all there is to hear and then all of a sudden (WHAM!), you are hit with a new crystalline layer of sounds. The killer vocal sample kicks, a quiet motif of synth and drums, and an epic crescendo that swells up in the final minute, Cant Do Without You, leaves you with a climatic eargasm.
Without an album to her name, BANKS‘ is the success story of 2014. From Waiting Game to Goddess to Brain, she’s fired out brooding brilliance one after another. Drowning is the standout release from her so far. The lyrics are cold (“you try to hide I can see that you don’t need me”) yet the skittering vocal samples and the depths of BANKS’ vocals are warm and encapsulating. As far as new artists go, you don’t get many so confident and self-assured in the early moments of their career. What a class act.
Before embarking on the strenuous journey of the Top 20, the interns knew that it would take something special to earn the top spot of the best song of (half) the year. So what was it about this newly-established UK band that inspired us to make this song our work motto? Mantra, if you will?
This track has something for everyone; polished hip-hop, a touch of dance and a hell of a lotta funk. Its underlying message of busy earnin has an almost dark undertone, evoking the mundanity of life while gloriously juxtaposing this thought with a disco dancefloor-inspired celebration of soul – its the Heigh Ho! Heigh Ho! Its off to work we go of the modern age. You may never have things for a normal life and think that all your time is used, busy earnin but youve just got to keep on truckin, keep moving forward. And this track has the ability to inspire you to do just that; get up, move, keep going through the motions of life. The lyrics mirror the monotonous reality of eating, sleeping, working, and repeating (the grown-up version of Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat) but, with the assistance of a funky bassline, rhythmic falsetto and shining synths, it shows that it aint all that bad and sometimes all you need to do is live life to the fullest and, most importantly, get on that dancefloor and shake dat booty.