Following up on my movie highlights, I now present my music highlights for 2014. I (obviously) don’t keep logs of all the music I listen to & when. Fortunately Amazon Digital and my MP3 player do track what was purchased or imported when. Similar to my other highlights, these are by no means necessarily new to the world in 2014 but instead in most cases simply new to me. The first set of these are pretty well known and mostly pop-ish songs, but the collection down bottom much less so.
First, a bunch of actually new-ish songs that got their share of radio play last year, and in some cases much more than that.
It’s a bit too reminiscent of Breaking Bads’ use of TV On The Radio’s DLZ, but one of the seasons of Longmire ends with this used pretty well, as the hero drives literally and figuratively on Denver.
Glitch Mob—Fortune Days
Previously noted for We Can Make The World Stop, The Glitch Mob returns with another good one, this time just outside the dub step milieu.
Kid Ink feat. Chris Brown—Show Me
I’m conflicted by this hip hop hit. As usual, I have trouble with hip hop’s generally boring attitudes toward women, as particularly exemplified by the terrible opener for the official video. I also especially don’t want to support domestic abuser and general asshole Chris Brown. But the melody is really good.
This verged on being well over played on the radio, and though potentially reading too much into it, I really like the vague hints of story elements in this.
Sam Smith—Stay With Me
Right on the line of overplayed, but I am a huge sucker for sappy, overwrought heartbreaks and a bit of piano.
An absolutely great way to seed a flowing, upbeat Pandora playlist is to throw this one in.
Mr. Probz—Waves [Robin Schulz Radio Edit]
Robin Schulz is ridiculously everywhere on my Pandora streams with his edits, but this beachy, upbeat tune from Mr Probz is really nice.
A pop-ish tune with just enough warble, everything is better in the summer.
Tim Berg blows away a more rock-ish tune than usual, and the video even successfully adds a bit of depth.
Now some songs that are not so or not at all present on the radio, at least around the northeast US.
To begin, a few more upbeat tunes.
Bakermat—One Day (Vandaag)
A fast but light, sky-ful Dutch dance song with a nice touch of saxophone.
Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne—Rather Be
Simple, fun electronic pop with sharp, clean vocals and instrumental ornamentation somewhat unique in that genre.
Tom Hangs feat. Shermanology—Blessed [Tim Bergling/Tom Hangs/Avicii/whoever he is Edit]
As far as I can tell, this is a Tim Bergling song performed by Shermanology, produced under his Tom Hangs stagename and then remixed under his Avicii stagename. A sequence of credits as awesome as it is confusing. But this is a great, uplifting tune.
Parra For Cuva feat. Anna Naklab—Wicked Games
Absolutely incredible, upbeat take on Chris Isaak’s classic Wicked Games. Although there’s several ultra-slow covers I really like, this is the definitive version for me.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, some quieter thoughts.
Selah Sue—This World
A great somewhat down-tempo soul song.
Jim James—State Of The Art (A.E.I.O.U.)
Basically the only good outcome from the very disappointing The Blacklist. One headline renders this as “digital ennui,” which I think is fair. I’m not sure what genre I’d lump it into, but it’s really good.
The Bon Iver original is also really good, but I particularly love this even slower, quieter rendition of this folk-ish song. Probably the saddest song of the year.
Sharon Van Etten—Serpents [Demo]
This ostensible demo version and the song overall is shockingly under-established to have had such major exposure— no official upload?! But it’s a really great broken folk/alternative song. Pretty popular despite basically no radio play when it was released a few years back—and really, I have little idea what station here outside XPN would play it—as it was used devastatingly at the close of the fourth episode of the fourth season of The Walking Dead.