20. Jack + Eliza – Hold the Line
The way Jack + Eliza’s sunny vocals intertwined to perfection on their debut single “Hold The Line”. Their method of exchanging solo lines before harmonizing together wasn’t new, but excels thanks to their charming tones. I always envisioned this song best played at a beach-side sunset.
19. Cathedrals – Harlem
As Cathedrals, Brodie Jenkins and Johnny Hwin made a lot of beautiful music together in 2014. “Harlem” was the first track to ensnare my ears with Jenkins’ way of maneuvering through Hwin’s diverse and bass-filled soundscape by hitting a variety of vocal heights.
18. Hozier – Sedated
Hozier’s engaging vocals managed to draw in listeners again on “Sedated” with a story that could be about addiction to love/drugs (depending on your interpretation). In either case, the dramatic keys and rumble of drums double as a rising heartbeat as Hozier fights through blind dependence on something he “should quit but loves it too much”.
17. Clean Bandit – Rather Be ft Jess Glynne
The combination of strings, keys and electronic elements on “Rather Be” was a baroque/synth pop hybrid that I couldn’t get enough of in 2014. Jess Glynne was a perfect choice as narrator of the simple, but catchy song about infatuation no matter the geographic distance.
16. The Knocks – Classic ft POWERS
There was no shortage of beach-ready electronic pop jams in 2014 (see “Cheap Sunglasses”, “Fiona Coyne”, “The Life”), but The Knocks’ “Classic” was the ultimate example. Head-nodding bass, bright keys, anthemic hook, sunny vocals from POWERS and just add sand and water. Send me back to Caseville circa July 2014 now.
15. George Ezra – Budapest
Let’s say you’re a pawn broker and you happen to be holding George Ezra’s lady love. Minimum, you’re coming away with a house in Budapest, a hidden treasure chest and a golden grand piano. Sounds like a whale of a deal.
14. Little Dragon- Klapp Klapp
Swedish electronic band Little Dragon jump-started my 2014 with the futuristic lunar glow of “Klapp Klapp”. Yukimi Nagano sounded like an intergalactic banshee over the hum of bass, staccato percussion and fury of synth.
13. Beyonce – XO
As far as pop hits go, it doesn’t get much bigger than Beyonce’s “XO”. The pomp of percussion and scintillating synth ebb and flow as B interchanges hushed and booming vocals only she can achieve. Of the 8 weddings attended this year, I’m amazed none used it as the penultimate slow jam.
12. Future Islands – Seasons (Waiting On You)
Trying to change yourself or someone else to make a relationship work isn’t a new topic, but it hasn’t sounded better than the way Samuel T. Herring makes it sound. Metaphorically using summer and winter seasons to describe a break-up and Herring’s emotive vocals made the message even more emphatic.
11. Drake – 0 to 100/The Change Up
There’s a reason every rapper under the sun tried their hand a rhyming over the first half of the production on “0 To 100/The Change Up” (and why Diddy was so pissed he lost it). No surprise, Drake’s clever bravado (“I run this shit , they like Go Forrest”) filled original was the best and managed to reference Steph Curry, Forrest Gump, Toronto Raptors and more. The latter half of the “two for one” track was just as compelling with Drake spitting over hazy, hypnotic production.