By Josh Schonfeld
Now that 2014 is coming to a close, it’s time to take a look back at the best moments in music, at least according to me. I’ll take a look at the best and worst of 2014, from the infectious dance beats to some WTF lyrics that leave us still scratching our heads. Like it or not, 2014 is coming to close, leaving with it a time capsule of pop music to look back on for generations.
Best Song: “Timber (feat. Kesha)” – Pitbull
Honorable Mention: “Problem (feat. Iggy Azalea) – Ariana Grande
What do you get when you cross a Cuban, a yodeling white girl, and one hell of a harmonica player? One of the greatest blends of musical genres the world may ever see. You’ve got Pitbull spitting out rapid-fire raps about bras and thongs as Kesha throws down one of the catchiest hooks known to man, all while Paul Harrington blows the harmonica for a dash of country flair. No, it’s not going to win a Grammy (damn you, Grammy voters!) nor does it have the most innovative lyrics, but there’s just so much joy in this three-minute track, you cannot help but get your groove on every time it comes on.
Best Album: Taylor Swift – 1989
Honorable Mention: Tove Lo – Queen of the Clouds
What else is there to say about this album that hasn’t already been said in my review? Well, since we last checked in, it has sold almost 3 million copies and spawned two #1 singles, “Shake It Off” and “Blank Space.” This pop masterpiece is the final step in Swift’s goal of total world domination. Everyone from little kids to grandmas has been sucked into the TSwift vortex with her imaginative songwriting and pleasing theatrical pop production. What’s next for the certified pop superstar? Looks like we’ll just have to wait and see what 2015 holds.
Best New Artist: Iggy Azalea
Honorable Mention: Sam Smith
Back in 2013, Azalea was nothing more than an underground female rapper struggling to get a grip on the pop landscape. Fast-forward to today and she is now one of Billboard’s Women of the Year, a Best New Artist Grammy nomination, and is the first female rapper to hold down the top two spots on the Hot 100 with “Fancy” and “Problem.” Her smooth flow mixed with catchy pop hooks has accelerated her career to incredible heights no one could have imagined before 2014 started.
Best Collaboration: “Rather Be (feat. Jess Glynne)” – Clean Bandit
Honorable Mention: “Bang Bang” – Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki MInaj
Blending orchestral strings with 90s house beats and the sultry voice of Jess Glynne, “Rather Be” took the world by storm in 2014. It not only reached #1 in its native UK, but also managed to peak inside the top ten in the US as well. Looking for a wedding song that won’t put your guests to sleep? This song is the perfect upbeat-yet-still-appropriate first dance with its line, “When I am with you, there’s no place I’d rather be.”
Best Comeback: Jason Derulo
Honorable Mention: The Veronicas
It had been four years since Derulo graced the top ten in America with “Ridin’ Solo” until “Talk Dirty” stormed onto the scene in early 2014, followed by “Wiggle” over the summer. His new mature lyrics and unique use of the horn section helped steer his career back in the right direction. Now that he has broken up with fellow pop singer, Jordin Sparks, it looks like 2015 could be another good year for Derulo if he makes a killer breakup album.
Best Dance Song: “Turn Down For What” – DJ Snake & Lil Jon
Honorable Mention: “Summer” – Calvin Harris
There is no question that the dance song of 2014 goes to DJ Snake and Lil Jon’s club banger, “Turn Down For What.” While the lyrics are repetitive and typical hands up and buy shots fare, the meat of song lies in the heavy electronic beats by DJ Snake. It is nearly impossible not to rage when this club comes on, as the EDM track pummels you into submission with each pulsing note.
Worst Song: “Rude”- Magic!
Honorable Mention: “All of Me” – John Legend
What could be worse than a Canadian reggae group whining about not getting their future father-in-law’s blessing? Having to hear it 50 billion times on the radio for months on end. While the song itself is harmless, with its catchy chorus and benign reggae sound, the burn rate is startlingly high especially once radio decided to make it the song of the summer, unbeknownst to the general public.
Worst Lyrics: “Break Free (feat. Zedd)” – Ariana Grande
Honorable Mention: “Wiggle (feat. Snoop Dogg)” – Jason Derulo
Now don’t get me wrong, “Break Free” is a great pop song with pulsing EDM beats and explosive vocals from Grande, but the lyrics live up to the brainless pop genre stigma. Not only do the lyrics not make sense, they are also grammatically incorrect: “I only wanna die alive / Never by the hands of a broken heart. / Don’t wanna hear you lie tonight / Now that I’ve become who I really are.” The song also falls victim to a case of the misheard lyrics, with the line, “Thought on your body” misheard as “Fart on your body,” which makes for one hilarious bridge.