Before I get into the top ten of this year, a special mention for a song from 2013 I listened to a lot during 2014. I didn’t do a Mid-Year Limbo list this year, but if I had this would have been the top one.
‘Overdose’ – Ciara
This song was released in December 2013 in the UK. Ten years ago, Ciara was one of the biggest new stars in the world with her smash hit single ‘Goodies’, but she’s become one of those music acts who only seem to be able to get hits in one decade. I think it’s a shame this song didn’t do better, because it is a fun catchy electropop song.
Now to the top ten of 2014.
10) ‘Happy’ – Pharrell Williams
If this was an “objective” list (well, as objective as these sort of lists can be) there is a case for this being number one as it is undoubtedly one of the biggest hits of 2014, but, much as it’s not exactly fair to punish a song for being too popular, it has been played so much over the year (and technically it was released in 2013) it became background noise after a while. But it is a great song, very funky, soul-ish and, well, happy.
9) ‘Rather Be’ – Clean Bandit featuring Jess Glynne
Yes, once again it’s not this songs fault it was overplayed, but unfortunately it can make you love a song less. Of course it completely deserves its success and popularity, it is marvelous. Clean Bandit’s use of electronic and classical instruments gave us one of the most classy and sophisticated number one hits in a long, long time, and Jess Glynne’s vocals are brilliant. The video is just plain weird, but Haruka Abe’s performance in it is good. (It’s surprising how many people still think she’s the one singing the song though).
8) ‘Rainmaker’ – Emmelie de Forest
Not to take anything away from Conchita Wurst, Eurovision 2014 was very much her year, and it was one of the very best Eurovision finals ever, but even so my highlight of the whole thing was when 2013’s winner Emmelie de Forest returned and sang this track written especially for the final, and was joined by all the finalists from this year, the first time every finalist has performed on stage together. It was all very heartwarming and uplifting, including seeing Conchita Wurst and Russia’s Tolmachevy sisters dancing together. There were a lot of people who thought this track would have been good as 2014’s World Cup anthem too.
7) ‘I Will Never Let You Down’ – Rita Ora
This track is one of Rita Ora’s biggest hits, though I wonder if it feels a bit awkward for her to perform nowadays, given that it was written and produced by her ex-boyfriend Calvin Harris. But it is in my opinion the best song she has released to date, so I hope she continues in a similar direction.
6) ‘Ugly Heart’ – GRL
This song is tinged with sadness after the death of Simone Battle. It is a fantastic pop song with a mix of different genres, and a message that beauty is only skin deep might not be a particularly new one, but let’s face it, it’s something people probably need reminding of.
5) ‘English Kids In America’ – Lower Than Atlantis
Not a cover of the Kim Wilde ’80s hit, but not a million miles away from it either. The appeal of this track for me is how enjoyable it is. I love the Universal Studios tour video with dinosaurs and a real life Moe’s Tavern from The Simpsons, and the band having fun on the beach. It is very much a summer holiday or road trip anthem.
4) ‘Boom Clap’ – Charli XCX
After writing and releasing great pop songs for years, and featuring on big hits for other artists (which she also had a hand in writing) like ‘I Love It’ with Icona Pop and ‘Fancy’ with Iggy Azalea, Charli XCX got a long overdue hit in her own right with ‘Boom Clap’, a sparkly pop song from the soundtrack to the film The Fault In Our Stars.
3) ‘D.I.Y’ – Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott
Growing up in Yorkshire in the ’90s, The Beautiful South were a band I heard a lot with my parents, and indeed a lot of people, being big fans, so I have a special place in my heart for them. This wasn’t a full reunion, most of the former members still tour as The South, but this comeback was with frontman and songwriter Paul Heaton with Jacqui Abbott, who was the lead vocalist on a lot of their biggest hits, and it was like they’d never been away. The video directed by Johnny Vegas is a lot of fun too.
2) ‘Zombie’ – Jamie T
The mid-2000s saw a lot of rapping singer-songwriters, with Jamie T being among The Streets and Just Jack. They made some quite good songs “back in the day”, but most of them haven’t really been able to continue their success into the 2010s. Jamie T however made a comeback, going in a more indie rock direction with this great song ‘Zombie’. I like the video a lot too, featuring a band of zombies playing in a pub, with the landlady mopping up blood, an ear ending up in someone’s beer, and a Thing from The Addams Family-like hand nicking another customer’s crisps.
1) ‘Holding Onto Heaven’ – Foxes
So since I’ve been doing this blog, the artist who has released my favourite song of the year has gone as follows. 2012 – Florence + The Machine. 2013 – Ellie Goulding. 2014 – Foxes. I’m a sucker of these ethereal alternative-pop female singer-songwriters. But I really like this song, it’s very lovely and graceful, and I like the different emotions in it, holding onto happy memories but with sadness when reality of the present sets in. The music box sound adds something too. This is a very nice song.