2014 was an interesting year for music though the charts were dominated, once again, by bubblegum pop songs and viral YouTube videos. There was still a handful of songs that did not follow that formula and were determined to be iconic for the years to come. Not for their performance in the music charts but due to their excellence in production, lyricism, and melody.
Major magazines like Billboard, Rolling Stones, and Pitchfork Media have been publishing their year-end list for what they consider is the best music of the year. The Gramophone Reporter is also proud to present you with its little ranking of the ten best songs of 2014.
BEST SONGS OF 2014
#10 The Flaming Lips featuring Miley Cyrus & Moby — “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”
Covers usually don’t make it to year-end lists. But this version of the Beatle’s classic “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was very clever. The Flaming Lips and electronic artist, Moby take you on a psychedelic voyage accompanied by the sensual vocals of Miley Cyrus.
#9 Tori Amos — “16 Shades of Blue”
“16 Shades of Blue,” from Tori Amos’ latest studio album, Unrepentant Geraldines did not make it as a single but did receive notoriety due to the concept that surrounds this delicate piano ballad. Amos was inspired by Cézanne’s The Black Clock, in which she tells ‘father time’ to stop as it is only an invention of the human mind.
#8 Weezer — “Back to the Shack”
After years experiencing with a more commercial type of pop/rock music. Weezer brings us literally ‘back to the shack’ with this song. As they celebrate their 20 years as a band, this track makes us feel like we are back to the good ol’ alternative rock from 1994. Weezer also asks for forgiveness for engaging into new sounds and forgetting their old audience and they encourage us to turn on the radio and turn off “all those stupid singing shows”.
#7 Seether —”Words As Weapons”
South African post-grunge band Seether, brought us “Words As Weapons”. A song that received major airplay in alternative rock stations must likely due to their melodic tune and excellent lyrics. This is another nostalgic song that made us feel we’re still in the good years of the early 2000s rock.
#6 Beck —”Blue Moon”
2014 marked a return for 90s iconic rock singer/songwriter, Beck who hadn’t released a record in the last six years. “Blue Moon” from his GRAMMY-nominated Morning Phase is a melancholic folk/rock tune that talks about the pain of loneliness. It has a beautiful instrumental arrangement with the ukulele and the clavinet behind a rock background.
#5 Lana del Rey — “West Coast”
“West Coast,” is Pink Floyd meets Britney Spears. A clever combination that only Lana del Rey and producer Dan Auerbach were able to accomplish. This psychedelic/surfer pop song takes del Rey on a trip to the West Coast (more specifically, California) in which she praises about their “icons, movies, and rock ‘n roll groupies” and she tells her lover she is leaving him because “down in the west coast… it all could happen”.
#4 Antemasque — “4 AM”
For those who don’t know, Antemasque is a supergroup consisting of Omar Rodríguez-López and Cedric Bixler-Zavala (The Mars Volta/At the Drive-In) and assisted by Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers). And it is the combination of Flea’s indistinguishable bass and Cedric’s powerful vocals that makes this progressive rock track an amazing song. Unfortunately, they did not get the exposure they deserved.
#3 St. Vincent — “Digital Witness”
“Digital Witness,” written and performed by Annie Clark (AKA St. Vincent) criticizes how the modern society has gone social media frenzy when people post every single aspect of their lives into the social networks. Clark asks “what’s the point of even sleeping?” since nobody can publish anything while they are sleeping.
#2 Sia — “Chandelier”
Sia is an excellent songwriter and performer; and she proves that with “Chandelier”. This electropop song with reggae influences that Sia performs with superior vocals, is sung through the perspective of a party girl dealing with depression and alcoholism. “Chandelier” was originally intended for Rihanna, but Sia decided to perform it herself as it reflects her own personal struggles.
#1 Foo Fighters — “Something from Nothing”
“Something from Nothing,” the first single off Foo Fighters’ latest studio album, Sonic Highways is definitely the best song of the year. The song was inspired by and recorded in the city of Chicago and influenced by the Chicago-based (and one of my personal favourite bands), the Smashing Pumpkins. It is a powerful rock tune with soaring guitars and raging vocals that only Dave Grohl and company can deliver. We should thank the Foos for still making good rock ‘n roll music that is nowadays no longer predominant.