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The Pop Culture Wing of Hot Corner Harbor

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Best Billboard Top 100 Songs of 2014

After some delay, here it is:

I found writing this that writing about good stuff is so much harder to do than writing about bad stuff. With bad stuff, like my “Worst of 2015” list, it was mostly easy to narrow down what bothered me and write about that. With the good stuff, I sometimes found it difficult to pinpoint exactly what I liked. Plus, there was a lot more to talk about. But I tried to at least throw in a sentence or two for each as I went through them in chart order.

93. “She Looks So Perfect” – 5 Seconds of Summer
It’s hard for me to say what I liked about this song without just saying “it is how I would imagine summer sounds” (appropriately enough). The big, catchy “hey”s, the overdriven guitars, the lyrics that perfectly capture “young, restless love song”, it all works on this one.  

88. Come With Me Now – KONGOS
I never thought an alternative/rock song that opened with accordion would impress me this much. Very intense and driven.

84. Do What U Want – Lady Gaga ft. R. Kelly
This one placed on the Top 100 last year, so I’ll probably have to discount it some. Even still, this is a fantastic song. The duet works really well, love the dark, bouncy synths, and Lady Gaga’s vocals are great.

81. Bartender – Lady Antebellum
76. Leave the Night On – Sam Hunt
Like I said last time, I’m not a big country person. However, these are the ones that stood out to me. Lady Antebellum’s “Bartender” was such a welcome change of pace from the normal bro-country I had been listening to when listening through this year’s country representatives that I literally breathed a sigh of relief. Hunt’s song seems very close to the bro-country that I dislike (see last time), but it didn’t happen. If I had to guess, I think it’s because “Leave the Night On” seems to take a different approach, focusing more on “let’s just stay awake enjoying the night” rather than the general “drinking, partying, girls” that most others seemed to employ. I don’t really know, it just seems sweeter, more sincere than most of it’s contemporaries. I’m not sure if that’s actually the reason, but that’s my best guess.

75. Sweater Weather – the Neighborhood
I could have sword this charted in 2013, but apparently not. A very mellow but haunting song.

59. Cool Kids – Echosmith
I’m a bigger fan of the rest of Echosmith’s output, but “Cool Kids” is a pretty decent song.

57. Radioactive – Imagine Dragons
Another one that’s more of a 2013 song. I’m a pretty big Imagine Dragons fan and like this song, but it still surprises me that this is the one that got big and not something more traditional like “It’s Time”.

55. Hold On, We’re Going Home – Drake ft. Majid Jordan
Again, technically more of a 2013 number, but again, so what? A chill-yet-haunting R&B number.

51. A Skyful of Stars – Coldplay
I’m actually a little shocked any songs off of Ghost Stories charted; the album didn’t seem exactly pop-charts-friendly. This is a good song, but it’s nowhere near even my favorite Coldplay songs. Still, a solid Top 100 entry for 2014.

50. Classic – MKTO
It’s hard to write a more upbeat song than this. It’s a pretty basic love song, but I still enjoy it a ton.

48. The Man – Aloe Blacc
A great soul throwback number from a great singer.

47. Ain’t It Fun – Paramore
Few pop songs come to mind that include both gospel choir and a xylophone. Very catchy and upbeat. Also, more songs need xylophones in them.

41. Rather Be – Clean Bandit ft. Jess Glynne
Few songs make me as immediately happy when they start. From the perfect string run opening to the gradual build to an all-out chorus, this is a perfect song.

39. Burn – Ellie Goulding
Goulding’s at her best when she touches on electronica-pop, like the anthemic “Burn”.

37. Break Free – Ariana Grande ft. Zedd
I really like this song, in spite of how difficult it can be to understand Ariana Grande at times.

36. Anaconda – Nicki Minaj
I wish I could explain why I like this song. When I listen to it, I can find more things that irritate me than parts that I really, really enjoy. But it all works when it’s stuck together. Also, props for making such an awkward sample work so well.

35. Drunk in Love – Beyonce ft. Jay-Z
A big, thumping club number that lets Beyonce belt.

34. Boom Clap – Charlie XCX
This song grew on me, big time. For a simple as it is, Charlie XCX has a way with writing catchy stuff, and the chorus has been stuck in my head for the last few weeks.

32. Habits (Stay High) – Tove Lo
Like it Echosmith, I’m a bigger fan of some of Tove Lo’s other stuff, but “Habits” is a fine song.

31. Best Day of My Life - American Authors
Pretty simple, but it’s hard not to feel happy listening to it, even if it is a little shallow.

28. Latch – Disclosure ft. Sam Smith
The dark, brooding groove is made all the better by Sam Smith’s alternating crooning and falsetto.

27. Bang Bang – Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj
An all-around solid pop number. I'm not sure I totally agree with the verse allocation, but otherwise, catchy and upbeat.

25. Chandelier – Sia
It’s been months, but I still get chills whenever I hear the chorus. Everything about this song feels grand in scale, and Sia has a magnificent voice.

21. Let It Go – Idina Menzel
I never guessed that a show-stopping number from a musical would have charted, but with Disney’s backing, I suppose anything is possible. And if there was one that would chart, this would be the one.

20. Royals – Lorde
18. Team – Lorde
I like “Royals” a lot more than “Team”, but I also think of “Royals” as more of a 2013 song. I’m also a little sad that “Ribs” didn’t join these two here, because it is a beautiful song.

15. Turn Down for What – DJ Snake and Lil Jon
This song is crazy in the best way possible, and I love every minute of it.

14. Am I Wrong – Nico and Vinz
I love the drum part to this song, which adds a driving sense of urgency to an already-strong R&B number.

13. Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
This is the musical equivalent to caffeine. Songs should not have this much pep in them. Also, a great use of bari sax throughout the song.

12. Pompeii – Bastille
I actually think of this as more of a 2013 song, but I’m glad it took off this year. The chanting choir is great, the feeling of loss and regret, the big sweeping chorus, Dan Smith’s voice, the drum breaks…everything is wonderful here.

11. Timber – Pitbull ft. Kesha
As usual, Pitbull is the worst part of his own song. But Kesha does a great job with her part.

8. All About That Bass – Meghan Trainor
A great throw-back of a song, with a great bass groove.

6. Talk Dirty-Jason Derulo ft. 2 Chainz
I liked this one a lot more before I heard “Wiggle”. When I thought it was a one-off thing, I thought it was great and hilarious. But when “Wiggle” came around basically doing the same thing, but worse, it took some of the shine off and removed a lot of the humor. It is still pretty catchy, though, with the detuned sax riff.

5. Counting Stars- OneRepublic
When OneRepublic misses, they’re a little bland, but when they’re on, you get grand, sweeping pop numbers like this one. It reminds me a little of “Am I Wrong” for some reason.

1. Happy – Pharrell
It’s easy to forget with how omni-present this song was this year, but this is all-around a tight song. Very straightforward, but that’s needed sometimes. Plus, Pharrell gives his usual great vocals.

With all of that out of the way, if I were to make a “Top of 2014’s Hits” list, I would put them:

18. “The Man”
17. “Leave the Night On”
16. “Counting Stars”
15. “Classic”
14. “Burn”
13. “Come With Me Now”
12. “Royals”
11. “She Looks So Perfect”
10. “Turn Down for What”
9. “Do What U Want”
8. “Latch”
7. “Shake It Off”
6. “Boom Clap”
5. “Happy”
4. “Ain’t It Fun”
3. “Chandelier”
2. “Rather Be”
1. “Pompeii”

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