Top 20 Songs of June 2014

The month that popped. As much as I love pop music, I seemed to listen to an inordinate amount of it June. This is only because some awesome pop tunes were released or came to my ears in June. This is a good thing. Here’s the list of my Top 20 Songs of June.

20. jj – All White Everything

All white indeed. Glad to hear them back with new material. They have a way with breezy electronica unlike any other act.


19. Kylie Minogue – Crystallize

Best Kylie song in years.


18. Kyla La Grange – Fly/Get It

I’ve heard a lot from Kyla La Grange this year, being exposed to her for the first time with the immaculate smashes “Cut Your Teeth” and “The Knife”. She just dropped a new album, and there a bunch of super-catchy electro-pop ditties on it. Her lilting falsetto works well with the dark-meets-light synth tracks. This is evidenced best on “Get It” and “Fly”.

Get It:



17. Omar Souleyman – Wenu Wenu

Love this track, and was very fortunate to have seen Omar perform at NXNE’s Vice Island (with Le1f and Future Islands). Not the most demonstrative character, but this song is gitchy galore.


16. Lil Jon – Turn Down For What

Waaaay late to this party. Still, a massive pop/hop/club banger that I couldn’t turn down, no matter what.


BONUS VIDEO: Hilarious video of Star Trek set to “Turn Down For What”.


15. Charli XCX – Boom Clap

One of the best poppers around. Charli’s new single is a winner.


14. Le1f – Boom

“Boom” is hella catchy, and Le1f is really good live. An engaging showman.


13. Royksopp & Robyn – Monument

I think I may have been too quick to anoint “Every Little Thing” the far-and-away best track Royksopp and Robyn’s recently released EP. “Monument” definitely gives ELT a run for its money. Both are dynamic, slithering, pulsating electro-pop gems. “Monument” is even more of a slow-burn, an ode to shooting for the moon, a thriller of a pillar, a huge hoarder of brick and mortar. Royksopp and Robyn are a lethal combination.


12. Sia – Chandelier

I do believe Sia is the best pop songwriter of the past several years. Her touch has lifted so many huge pop singles to glory. She’s kept a massive hook for herself here, and “Chandelier” borders on the outermost limits of the atmosphere.


11. Tove Styrke – Even If I’m Loud If Doesn’t Mean I’m Talking To You

What’s with amazing pop stars from Sweden named Tove?! Tove Styrke has been away for a few minutes, but she’s burst back onto the scene with a hulking and dizzying dancer of a tune.


10. Foster The People – Best Friend

At present, I don’t love Foster The People’s second record. I quite like two songs from it, “Coming of Age” and the follow-up single, “Best Friend”. This is the song that most harkens back to the wonderfully catchy gaiety of their indomitable debut album.


9. The Griswolds – Red Tuxedo

Short, pretty, and unusually sweet, “Red Tuxedo” is a warm, sunny ballad that possesses just the right amount of nostalgia-laced ache.


8. Wye Oak – Glory

Best song I’ve ever heard from Wye Oak. “Glory” is wickedly catchy.


7. The Alternate Routes – Nothing More

What a fantastic melody. Thanks to TC for the heads up on this band!


6. La Roux – Let Me Down Gently (Sailors Remix)

One of my favourite remixes of the year. Sailors have done an exceptional job retaining the hooks and upping the playfulness quotient, contrasting the brooding original with this reflective yet skip-to-my-louing banger.


5. Ed Sheeran – Sing

It took me a little while to come around on “Sing”. A couple months actually. I was so in love with several of the songs from Ed’s debut record + (“The A Team”, “Drunk”, “Small Bump”, and “Lego House”) that I think I held whatever he released next to an unreasonable standard. And it’s not that “Sing” is necessarily an inferior song to those other tracks. It’s just different, a cocksure pop song designed for radio domination. Perhaps I just like it best when Ed Sheeran lets his voice, guitar, and preternatural way with melody shine through. “Sing” is not that simple, with its knife-sharp sheen and flawless Pharrell production, that it took a while for me to fall for its charms. Fallen I have. It’s just a song mate, and it’s a bloody catchy one at that.


4. 5 Seconds Of Summer – She Looks So Perfect

Completely chock-full of hooks in every fathomable nook and cranny. This is a perfect pop/alt song.


3. Tove Lo – Over

On repeat throughout June, “Over” is a marvellous pop song. Tove Lo’s impassioned vocal dips and soars and prods and pleas in this gem of a tune. Sweden strikes again. (When isn’t that apt? Never.)


2. La Roux – Tropical Chancer

So many layers of pop genius here. This marks the third song that La Roux has released from her brand-new album, and it’s the third monumental track. “Tropical Chancer” sounds like a juggernaut now, and I believe it will hold up as one just like so many of the songs on La Roux’s debut have five years later. What an ear for absolutely perfect melodies and layers Elly Jackson has. The track earns bonus points with me for the subtle but amazing flute (flutish?) flourishes at 2:48. I’ve not an iota of doubt that “Tropical Chancer”, both the song and the album, will be among the best of the year in both categories.


1. Jessie Ware – Tough Love

For the longest time, I had La Roux’s “Tropical Chancer” as my favourite song of June. I listened to it a tonne, and found so many great layers to bask in. It’s a commanding, multi-layered pop masterstroke.

But I felt something different for “Tough Love”. I felt, after only a couple listens, like I was experiencing one of the songs of the year — a new school soul-electro-pop smash supported by shimmering, pristine, jaw-droppingly gorgeous production. I felt like I could see a part of Jessie Ware’s essence floating in, around, below, and above “Tough Love”. I felt like I could hear her spirit — decimated but unfathomably resilient in the hea(r)t of a tumultuous fire — crawling all over this sultry, sizzling, sexy track. Maybe more importantly than that, I think the power of this song tattooed something on me: a reflection, a foil, a consideration, a commiseration.

I can’t quite put my finger on it, and I’m not sure when or if I’ll be able to. That’s called “Tough Love”.


My Top 10 Songs of June 2013

I can’t believe 2013 is half done. The first half of the year has been so good for music, if I had to cull everything together to make a top 100 list right now, I’d have trouble doing so. I have no earthly idea what I’m going to do come year’s end. I’ll worry about that later though. Here are the songs I listened to/liked most in June:

10. Chvrches – Gun

Maybe it doesn’t quite reach the dizzying heights of “Lies”, “The Mother We Share”, “Recover”, and “Now Is Not The Time”, but the more I listen to “Gun”, the more I dig it. I really like the way Chvrches employ a double chorus/hook-hook song structure on many of their tracks. “Gun” is a shot of pure pleasure. Chvrches are on bloody fire. And apropos of nothing, Lauren Mayberry is adorable.


9. The Besnard Lakes – People of the Sticks

This is The Besnard Lakes at their badassest (say that 10 times quickly). The song is transfixing. The video is highly unusual. I’m down with all of it.


8. Phosphorescent – Muchacho’s Tune

This is gorgeous music. Melodic and melancholic with a sliver of sunlight in the dark, distant sky.


7. New Politics – Harlem

This song is a mischievous, cockroachian pest. Once it builds a home in your brain, good luck getting rid of it.


6. Preatures – Is This How You Feel?

This song reminds me of about 472 other songs. It has the soul of an old rock/blues song, yet somehow, it sounds unwaveringly fresh. I call that magic.


5. The Belle Game – River

That voice. My oh my, that voice.


4. Cold War Kids – Loner Phase/Lost That Easy

I love “Loner Phase” and “Lost That Easy” equally. They’re two of the several phenomenal songs from what I think is Cold War Kids’ most consistent album, Dear Miss Lonelyhearts. The media linked below is one of the coolest lyric videos I’ve seen yet. Cold War Kids just keep getting better.


3. Paramore – Still Into You

Paramore’s latest (eponymous) LP is, quite frankly, a revelation. I had no idea Hayley Williams, Taylor York, and Jeremy Davis had this in them. They tackle seemingly every subgenre of pop/alt, and they do it with such ease and vigour. The album is a confluence of many factors that (luckily) clicked at the same time. I’m not sure they’ll ever top it, but I’ mustn’t dwell on such things. I’m just going to continue to enjoy the hell out of a gobsmackingly good record. “Still Into You”, the second single from the album, is a downright juggernaut. This is takeover music.


2. Robin Thicke f. Pharrell and T.I. – Blurred Lines

I liked “Blurred Lines” at first, but I don’t think it really hit me until I was bludgeoned over the head with it — that’ll happen when a song is played on every format in existence on a loop for months. If there can be such a thing, it was an enjoyable bludgeoning. “Blurred Lines” is, by light years, Robin Thicke’s best song ever. In fact, I would argue he never even had a good song until he made this. I also believe that Pharrell is probably the sole reason why this song is so catchy, such is his power/ability. Alan’s kid has a great talent at nicking stuff from Justin Timberlake, and a good voice, but considering how many albums he’s released with nary a song worth remembering, I’d say he’s extremely lucky Pharrell decided to let him sing on this behemoth of a beat. But I digress. The song is a bloody monster, and it may or may not (read: may) have been made even more seductive by the unrated version of the video (google that ish and you’ll see why).


1. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Despair

A couple weeks ago, I watched the video for Yeah Yeah Yeah’s new single, “Despair”, and I was overcome with emotion. Here’s how I described it at the time…

Honesty: I heard YYY’s “Despair” today, and I shed tears. I love music so much because occasionally, overpowering moments like that happen. Music is the art form that marinates my heart, beckons for it, keeps it tender, nurtures it. And in turn, my heart beats for it. As for YYY’s “Despair” itself, it couldn’t espouse a feeling further from its title. It’s the power of 1000 suns. It’s brighter. It’s a revelation. The video only heightens the feeling. The ebullient faces of Karen O & drummer Brian Chase make my soul stir, my pores goosebump, me live.

I still feel that way and I don’t think it’ll change any time soon. Music The All-Powerful.