As I seem to mention every year, crafting a strict Top 100 Songs of The Year list is an impossibility for me, because I listen to and like way more than 100 songs. So in order to shine a light on some of the songs that are still very good but don’t crack my top 100, I’ve issued lists recognizing the “honourable mentions” the past couple years. This is the first of those lists for 2014. More than anything though, these lists serve as a record keeping endeavour, so when I look back at 2014 some years down the line, I’ll be able to re-visit all the songs I was into. Having something neat and tidy to refer to at any time appeals to me, and that’s a big reason why I compile these lists. If anyone else who reads them discovers/likes something new, that’s great too.
Without further ado, here is the first of four lists detailing the best songs of 2014, Honourable Mention style, in alphabetical order.
May was absolutely absurd. The top 8 (!) songs listed were all worthy of being number 1. The rest of the top 15 could easily be top 3 songs in another month. In short, I heard and loved a bunch of stunning songs in May, and it might go down as the best music month of the year.
20. Bear Hands – Giants
Sweet chilli heat, the groove, the beat.
19. John Legend – All Of Me (De Hofnar Bootleg)/All Of Me (Tiesto Remix)
I’m not sure which remix I prefer more. I think it’s the De Hofnar one, but I can’t be sure. Tiesto came to play here.
De Hofnar Bootleg:
18. Eagulls – Possessed
Static electricity caught by a lint-remover.
17. The Subs f. Colonel Adams – Trapped
A bone-rattling house bang-show.
16. Lykke Li – No Rest For The Wicked/No Rest For The Wicked (Klangkarussel Remix)
The more I hear from Lykke, the more I listen. She’s got it.
15. X Priest X – Enemy Mind
I adore the bass-y house undertones in this pop marvel. Keep your friends close, keep Enemy Mind closer.
14. Manic Street Preachers – Walk Me To The Bridge
A forceful re-emergence for possibly the most underrated band around.
13. La Roux – Let Me Down Gently
I had fears La Roux missed the boat. This teaser release assuaged those fears at once. Don’t call it a comeback, even if it’s been five years.
12. Bear’s Den – Sahara Pt. 2
In a bear’s den,
you must watch your yen.
For if not, you will lose,
Something hairier than your shoes.
11. Manchester Orchestra – The Mansion/Cope
If this is Manchester Orchestra’s mansion, it’s replete with standards of fear and bushels of beards.
If this is how Manchester Orchestra cope, they’ve steel reinforced what it is to hope.
This is rock music.
This is bloody fantastic music.
10. Ask Embla – Legion
I asked Embla, and she said she must pop. (And lock in hits, like this song.)
9. Naughty Boy f. Sam Smith – La La La
Heard it. Then was Ricked it. Then listened some more. Then got on page with all else who’ve heard. This track is absurd.
8. Betty Who – Lovin’ Start
I had a lovin’ start with this Betty Who track, which then progressed into a lovin’ middle. The end is out of sight, but I’m positive it’s lovin’ too.
7. Robyn & Royksopp – Every Little Thing
“Every Little Thing” is, for my money, the best song on the EP from Robyn & Royksopp. There’s groove, there’s pulse, there’s a move, a protruding pulse. The singles from the EP, “Do It Again” and “Sayit”, don’t hit nearly as hard as this track. This song is blood and beats and mud from cleats.
6. Paloma Faith – Only Love Can Hurt Like This
Only a piece of pop dynamite as explosive as this could place this high in a month so strong. The music is irresistible and Paloma Faith lays down a mammoth vocal.
5. Beth Jeans Houghton & Samuel T. Herring – Pelican Canyon
This? From a random road trip?! I’d hate to see what these two could come up if they had endless time together. (Huge lie. I’d love to see, hear, and feel more from them.) Beth Jeans Houghton lulls like a luscious lullaby, while Sam T. Herring is the base to which the melody abides. I believe this is what the best kind of collaboration looks/sounds/feels like.
4. Marc Anthony – Vivir Mi Vida/Khaled – C’est La Vie
Is this Marc Anthony’s best ever song? It’s a legit question, and I think it might be. I really dug “You Sang To Me”, but the passion in “Vivir” exudes a freedom that I haven’t heard in any of his previous tracks. The song’s sun is so strong it leaves a full-body tan even if fully clothed, which this song makes sound completely ludicrous. This is the type of heat that never brings sorrow, only the excitement of tomorrow.
As good as Marc Anthony’s version of the melody/song/idea is, (Cheb) Khaled’s is equal to the task. This is exactly what euphoria sounds like. It’s what frolicking looks like. It’s what the the World Cup feels like. Is it too late to change this year’s official song?
3. Allie X – Bitch
“Prime” and “Catch” were the first two releases from this new artist, but I think “Bitch” is the best of the bunch. The distorted chorus is just tremendous.
“Bitch” is neither male nor female. “Bitch” is no dog. “Bitch” is of a moment, a moment where pop is transfused by electronics, enthused by histrionics.
2. La Roux – Uptight Downtown
I’d thought for quite some time that La Roux really dropped the ball by waiting so long to release a follow-up album, after all, 2009 (when they debuted) was eons ago. The duo built up so much momentum, with majestic stompers “Bulletproof”, “In For The Kill”, “Quicksand” (a.k.a. the hits) combining with “As If By Magic”, “I’m Not Your Toy”, “Cover My Eyes” (and more) to form what I felt like (and still feel now) was one of the best pop records of the decade. I thought it was a huge mistake to let that buzz dissipate — music fans can be fickle, and five years between albums is an eternity in this day and age.
Oh ye of little faith.
La Roux (now apparently just singer Elly Jackson) rendered all of that concern a waste. I can’t prove that La Roux travelled via wormhole, but it can’t be dismissed. When your comeback single is as sensational as “Uptight Downtown”, a song so current, yet so of another time, it’s hard to think about why it took so long between efforts.
“Uptight Downtown” sounds like a wave, and the wave is warm and unrelenting. Some may find this track repetitive. Some might not see its utter, complete, eargasmic dominance. Some may be in tune. Some may be before the zoom. Some might be after it. Whatever to some, here’s the sum: this track is one that sounds like it’ll battle the test of time with conviction.
La Roux knows the streets are lined with people, people who want to move, move, move.
The people always want to dance, even if they’ve changed their shoes, shoes, shoes.
1. Manchester Orchestra – Trees
Rock. Song. Of. The. Year.
That riff. That fucking wall and plaster and stone and foundation shattering riff. That attention to melody and rock out to the point of felony. Those insurmountable mountains of hooks. Those shadow stealing nooks.