Happy belated new year to all of my readers, new and old! It’s time again for my annual Fill in The Blank Music Awards as we embrace the new year and look back at the best and worse music of 2014. I reflect back on all of the hits of the year I look back and see a year that was the best of the new decade after 2011. While 2011 had epic break up songs and party anthems, 2012 had a great indie boom, 2014 has been a year of mellow and optimistic music. From the best and the worst to the most random verse, here are my top choices for 2014.
Most Random Top 100 Song- “Hanging Tree” by Jennifer Lawrence and James Newton Howard
I use the word “random” to describe my surprise at this song making it onto the top of the charts so quickly because it’s so experimental and minimalist, but I guess that’s what happens when it’s sung by a famous celebrity and is part of the official sound track of a huge movie series. Now this’s a pretty good song because of how different it is, though it’s not my cup of tea stylistically. If anything it just shows me that 2014 has been a year of strong musical variety given how a modern Jazz song is on the charts right now. And that’s why music interests me so much, because it’s an evolving science as much as music’s an art.
Most Mellow Song of the Year- “Am I Wrong” by Nico & Vinz
This isn’t mellow in the same sense as Regae hits like “Rude” by Magic that also came out in 2014, but it’s relaxing and leaves me with a really positive feeling in my heart. The song’s about dreaming for a better life, and I know exactly how that feels with how events in my life have unfolded this past year. I also love how this song progresses from mellow, to happy, back to mellow again, then to uncertain, and back to sounding happy. It’s a great song, so much so that I will check Nico & Vinz’s other works when I get some down time.
Best Party Song- “Fireball” by John Ryan and Pitbull
This song always sets my spirit ablaze and always makes me laugh in a joyous manner. It’s like an awesome Cuban jazz throwback that announces itself to make you want to have a great time. I imagine it was inspired by Fireball Whiskey and similar drinks, and the song reflects the party like atmosphere of many liquor commercials. Now I also love how catchy Pitbull’s rhymes are in this piece, because I actually referenced this song as a joke in my last Walking Dead review. I normally don’t listen to Pitbull’s music, but this one is a pretty damn awesome collaboration that Pitbull did with John Ryan.
Best Dance Hit- “Bailando” by Enrique Iglesias
I really love this song in both the English and the Spanish versions. The lyrics are pretty straightforward and telling of man falling in love with a woman on a dance floor, and how he wants to spend every waking moment with her. What I love most about this song is that it’s more traditional sounding than most dance music these days with its dark feel and expressive classical guitar work.
Best Metal Song- “Wrong Side of Heaven” by Five Finger Death Punch
I’ve loved this song since it came out in the summer of 2013, and for good reason. It starts off slow and sad, and then builds to an amazing series of climaxes. I also love that the video serves as a PSA for homeless veterans. Metal heads have turned their noses up at FFDP lately for their “simplistic guitar work and lyrics”, and non-metal fans just ignorantly consider them “screaming music”, I’m just sitting here twerking to Mastodon. I mean, I’ve always loved this band for their awesome guitar riffs and straight forward lyrics. FFDP is a great blend of modern metal core and hard rock music. On a separate note, 2014 was the year that Gene Simmons decreed “rock is dead”. While music never actually dies, some Rock musicians have resorted to advertising their music in strange ways.
Most Random Music Video- “The Motherload” by Mastodon
Speaking of Twerking to Mastodon and strange advertising, this song caused quite a stir in the metal and feminist communities because of the use of black erotic dancers to add a “surreal” and “hysterical” atmosphere to the video. Some people were offended and labeled the music video as sexist, and I agree that using women’s bodies to get attention for your video is sexist by nature. I just also think that this video isn’t worth being offended by. If you’re going to make a portal come out of a woman’s arse from twerking a lot then it’s quite clearly a bad joke, not something to justify labeling the band members as sexist. The song itself is great, I truly love how loud the bass guitar and how the vocals are used as a supporting instrument rather than the central focus of the song.
Most Overplayed Pop Hit- “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor
Another song big in the feminist blogosphere, I support the idea of body postivity in the lyrics, but the hook in this song is just God awful. The hook of “I’m all about that bass, no treble” is catchy in the same way that you can catch a cold (it stays in your head, but you wish it would go the hell away). Other than the hook sucking, I dislike how long this song dominated the charts for almost four months straight. It gets annoying listening for that long. Overplayed doesn’t mean overrated, but in this case I’ll make an exception. I have nothing against Meghan Trainor as an artist; I just feel that this song could have been a great 50s throwback were it not for the awful hook.
Catchiest EDM Song- “Prayer in C” by Lily Wood and the Prick
This song really stands out to me for the mellow beat, emotional vocals, and damn catchy guitar riff driving the song. The lyrics in the song question the existence of God, which offends some who don’t really know how common this sort of thing is. I enjoy this particular song because it’s the odd man in the charts, and it shows that 2014 has been a strong for variety. And God knows that guitar riff is epic.
Best 80s Throwback Song- “Rollercoaster” by Bleachers
Here’s a song that I really fell in love with since the first time I heard it. I never grew up in the 1980s, but even I feel nostalgic listening to this piece. I imagine the singer is recalling tales of being in love with his high school sweetheart by calling her a “rollercoaster” (meaning she’s a fun person). I also love the Queen reference they throw in there during the chorus. The only thing I dislike about this song is that it’s less than four minutes as I want to enjoy this song for much longer than that without having to loop it constantly.
Song that Deserves to be on the Top 10- “Give In” by Lecrae ft Crystal Nicole
Lecrae is a Christian Rapper who covers some very real and current subject matter happening in the US, and he’s one of the few Christian rappers I take seriously. The first time I heard this piece I was blown away by how epic the vocals and the rapping are. I love how they layered the synth vocals to sound like an electric guitar, now that’s how you properly use auto-tune to stylize a song. “Give In” has an interesting blend of organic A’capella and computerized instruments, plus I LOVE that beat. It makes me sad that this wasn’t a bigger single, but maybe it could happen in 2015. Listen the heck out of this song folks; it deserves to be an international hit.
Best Rap Song- “Don’t Tell Em” by Jermih Ft. YG
I like to think of this song as a good balance between risqué lyrics and relaxing beats. I love the singing and the rapping; it’s a nice mellow rap song that I can enjoy hearing on the radio. It’s not as impressive as “Give In”, but it’s not supposed to be. It’s down tempo to capture that secretive feel of being in an affair with someone.
Worst Rap Song- “I Don’t F*ck With You” by Big Sean Ft. E-40
I’ll just be frank and say I find this song to be petty and that it sounds awful. I dislike the concept of writing a song about someone and saying that you don’t care about them, when the song clearly shows you do care. It’s why I shied away from writing a breakup song of my own. The other thing I dislike is that whining sound they sampled in the background, it sounds weird and creepy. There are worse songs in existence, but this definitely isn’t my favorite.
Worst Song of the Year- “Only” by Nicki Minaj Ft. Lil Wanye Chris Brown and Drake
Speaking of worse songs in existence, we have this one. It’s not that I hate Nicki Minaj as a person, it’s just most of her discography is a blight upon the music industry. This song has horrible lyrics, horrible imagery, and the music is so empty sounding I can’t even say the cadences in the chorus sound good. I already reviewed this song a few months back, but it’s a song about the biggest names in the rap industry in the last decade saying they don’t have a love triangle with each other. We could have TMZ tell us that, and TMZ wouldn’t use Nazi inspired imagery to do so.
Song of the year- “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have a song that has upbeat lyrics about partying, awesome slap bass work, and a groovy song that definitely reminds me of the best funk work of the 70s and 80s. Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson have made an awesome contribution together, and I truly look forward to hearing more work between these two artists. I’ve always had a soft spot for the music of Bruno Mars, and I love that he’s using his fame to bring attention to music genres that shouldn’t have been forgotten from the mainstream conscience. The end of 2014 had a lot of throwback songs to the styles of previous decades in music history, and I can imagine the same thing being a trend in 2015. Don’t believe me? Just watch.