Best Songs of 2014 – #4
‘Problem’ – Ariana Grande
If I weren’t such a radio-averse music snob, this would probably be my song of the year. It’s a perfectly crafted piece of ear candy — a whole party in three minutes.
Ariana Grande’s voice goes a mile high and an inch deep, and that’s exactly what this song requires. The staccato horn fills serve as a sublime introduction to the verses, and the whispered chorus is a stellar left-field touch.
Best Songs of 2014 – #5
‘Blank Space’ – Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift dominated the music scene last year with her first foray into pure pop, 1989. The album was the year’s top seller (even edging out the Frozen soundtrack in a photo finish) and showed up high on just about every critic’s list.
It’s tempting to call 1989 Swift’s most superficial record, but I think it’s generally as deep and satisfying as her previous work. It’s not the dessert, it’s the whole meal.
Here’s a quick song from Neko Case’s 2009 album Middle Cyclone.
Not much to this one other than the rustic, majestic sound she captured on this record and its predecessor, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, but I do find a lot to like in the lyrics.
Lines like “I’ve been away for so long I’ve lost my taste for home” and “that’s a dirty, fallow feeling to be the dangling ceiling from when the roof came crashing down” are evocative and sad in the best way.
When this track from Garbage’s 1985 debut popped up as today’s Random iTunes Selection, I was positive I’d featured it on the blog before. I almost skipped to the next track without checking.
Turns out I was half right. I did feature the song, but not the studio version. Rather, I blogged about the live MTV Video Awards performance during a week on singers I find sexy. Having watched that performance again just now, I can confirm that I still find Shirley Manson sexy.
Best Songs of 2014 – #6
‘Fucked My Way Up to the Top’ – Lana Del Rey
2014 was the year I suddenly understood Lana Del Rey. I had observed her from afar, largely through the prism of controversy (the ridiculed SNL performance, attacks over her “invented” persona), but I’d never taken the time to listen to her music.
When her new album, Ultraviolence, was released to lavish critical acclaim, I figured it was time to dive in. And what I discovered — both on that record and her debut, Born to Die — is a complex, challenging performer with razor-sharp artistic instincts.
Best Songs of 2014 – #7
‘Chandelier’ – Sia
I’d never heard of Sia before discovering the provocative video for ‘Chandelier,’ in which 12-year-old dancer Maddie Ziegler performs an avant garde routine wearing a flesh-colored leotard.
Some called the video a pedophile’s dream come true, but most people were just impressed by the kid’s dance moves.
Best Songs of 2014 – #8
‘Take Me to Church’ – Hozier
Hozier is the second artist, and ‘Take Me to Church’ the second song, to arrive on this list courtesy of The Voice.
This compelling song was performed by Matt McAndrew, the contestant who should have won but came in second to country he-man Craig Wayne Boyd.
It’s probably some sort of commentary on American culture that the guy who sang this dark indictment of religion lost to the guy who sang ‘The Old Rugged Cross.’