Here are some of my favourite songs of 2014.
#20 – Joel Compass ‘Forgive Me’
British R&B/soul singer, Joel Compass, really ought to have been huge this year. I’m frankly surprised that ‘Forgive Me’ didn’t shake the charts harder. I adore the brooding nature of the song and the way they’ve amped up the drama with drums. I’m expecting more from this lad in the new year.
#19 – Neon Jungle ‘Bad Man’
Neon Jungle’s possibly one of the coolest girl groups around right now. I love their style and their potent blend of club beats with pop melodies (as exemplified with ‘Welcome to The Jungle’ and ‘Braveheart’, which I touched on in my album review). Sonically, there’s so much you can do with these girls and ‘Bad Man’ is a pretty good indication of just how far you can push it. This muscly urban track, fronted by horns and trap beats, sounds like the 2014 single Rihanna never had. An absolute favourite to strut down the street to.
#18 – TIEKS featuring Celeste ‘Sing That Song’
This song kind of came out of nowhere. I remember hearing it in a commercial on TV and Shazamming it straight away because that first verse was so strong. There was such an immediacy with the melody and best of all, it wasted no time in taking you straight to the euphoric chorus. The sound is of course very much of the moment. 90s-inspired house has been bang on-trend for pretty much a year now but when the songs and vocals are this good, it’s no wonder why it’s not fading anytime soon.
#17 – FKA Twigs ‘Two Weeks’
This wave of alt-R&B, as some might call it, is so very 2014 for me. This is one of the key sounds of the year (more of this on Spotify’s expertly curated Alternative R&B playlist). I’ve tried not to dismiss it as being minimalistic just because the song is built with elemental sounds and atmospheric synths. On one hand, it feels minimalistic but really, ‘Two Weeks’ and many songs of this calibre be it by Jhene Aiko or Tinashé are just as elaborately produced as any glossy pop single.
‘Two Weeks’, for me, is definitely more of a feel and more of a mood-setter than anything particularly poetic or soul-gratifying. There are loads of different ways to appreciate music and, for me, this particular FKA Twigs song is stunning and sensual on so many levels, you want to just silence yourself and marvel at the production and the toe-curling feeling you get when her voice surrounds you.
#16 – Dominique Young Unique ‘Throw It Down’
I love the carnal and rather tribal feel of this track. It’s like an earthquake of rave synths, bass-heavy electronic beats and gritty rap verses. To me, this song will always remind me of dancing manically in a dark, sweaty room in East Bloc.
#15 – Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars ‘Uptown Funk’
The funny thing about the arrival of this Prince-inspired Ronson track is that 2014 was the year I started dipping my toes into Prince, Chic, Nile Rodgers and disco/funk music of that sort. It just felt right for me. I even made a Disco Down playlist that amalgamates tunes from the yesteryears and present century, which I’ve played to death in the office. ‘Uptown Funk’ is an absolute delight, impossible to ignore. Let’s hope it sparks a Saturday Night Fever in anyone who missed the old school disco and funk era, and lead them to dig deeper like I did.
#14 – Shakira feat. Rihanna ‘Can’t Remember to Forget You’
With the greatest respect, I don’t think this was Shakira’s year. The Shakira. album seemed a bit too unfocussed and tepid for my liking, however, its lead single ‘Can’t Remember to Forget You’ is a killer. I love the song’s fusion of rock, pop and reggae, and its straightforward sentiments about being a victim to desire.
#13 – Ella Henderson ‘Ghost’
No one could bloody get away from this song this year, including Ella herself, who may never produce another epic single like this ever again. Looks like Ryan Tedder has done it again. It’s a brilliant, big pop number with an anthemic chorus and a key change to drive it all home. Utter perfection.
#12 – Katy B ‘Crying For No Reason’
Such a stunning piece of pop balladry – simple, heartfelt and really, quite unexpected. Before moving to the UK, I never quite got the concept of Katy B but she kind of turned it around for me with this song. ‘Crying For No Reason’ is an essential for any Crying at the Disco playlist (which, of course, everyone has).
#11 – Darren Hayes ‘The Sweetest Lullaby (Demo)’
Did you know Darren Hayes released ‘new’ music this year? I’m gonna say the general response is ‘No… now I thought I told you not to call me during Deal or No Deal‘. Hayes put up two previously unreleased tracks from his 2011 Secret Codes and Battleships era this year – one was ‘Wrecking Ball’ and the other was this beautiful demo called ‘The Sweetest Lullaby’. This is a classic Hayes ballad, designed to soundtrack a rainy lonesome moment in a rom com.