Yesterday, I gave you my picks for the year’s best albums. Today, we take a look at the 30 songs that have stood tallest in 2014. But first, these are the five best tracks that I unfortunately did not have room for in a top 30 chart:
In terms of introductions, it’s hard to top what Ryn Weaver just did with “OctaHate”, her eye-opening debut single. Produced by Benny Blanco (one half of BenZel), Passion Pit’s Michael Angelekos and Cashmere Cat, the song features the hallmarks of each artist while Weaver delivers an acrobatic vocal performance that immediately makes her an artist to look out for. Featuring a tropical rhythm, a smooth melody, and a shockingly pummeling chorus that recalls Passion Pit’s most hectic moments, “OctaHate” is that rare song that sounds good on paper but outperforms those lofty expectations.
Grimes and Blood Diamonds last collaboration, 2012’s “Phone Sex”, was that year’s greatest hit that never was. The song hit the same euphoric touched on by Rihanna and Calvin Harris’s inescapable 2011 hit “We Found Love” without hitting the heights of that Rihanna mega-hit. Now, Grimes has released another collaboration featuring production from Blood Diamonds, this one called “Go”, which turns out to be a song penned for Rihanna that somehow didn’t get picked up by the pop princess. “Go” does indeed sound massive, and is a late but worthy contender for song of the summer, no matter ones definition of what a summer song should be. Because regardless of whether or not “Go” received radio play, this will be the track you wish was coming through your FM transmission these next few months. For Grimes, her unapologetic embrace of the mainstream has resulted in one of her most instantly appealing songs yet. Poptimism isn’t so bad after all.
“And you may ask yourself / How did I get here” sang David Byrne some 30+ years ago, and that question will probably come to mind when listening to the gorgeous “Emanate” by Phoria. The Brighton, England five-piece band record music that’s difficult to categorize; it’s definitely not rock ‘n roll, but not fully pop either. The simplest way to put it is that the track is all-encompassing. Beginning with some light humming, the sparse instrumental slowly integrates itself into the proceedings, full of clicks and clacks, handclaps and finger-snaps. The wispy vocals recall another forward-thinking band to make strides in 2014, Movement, yet Phoria appears to have a firmer grasp on the electronic side of producing. The cathartic climax shines through with a stunning clarity, making “Emanate” a definitive statement for a band slowly on the rise.
The band’s EP Display is out now via Novo, and will see a wider international release on 4 July via Humming Records.
FKA twigs follows up her string of stunning releases in 2013 (including “Water Me” and “Papi Pacify”) with the first official single from the succinctly titled LP1, due 12 August via Young Turks. The track serves as a culmination of all the great things FKA twigs has been doing over the past year, from the minimalist, emotionally engaging “Water Me” to the seductive and low-key “Papi Pacify”. But there’s something even bigger about “Two Weeks”, which finds FKA twigs embracing a more pop musical sound without sacrificing her uniqueness.
EDIT There’s now a video for the song, directed by Nabil, and featuring FKA twigs as a goddess, giving Katy Patra a run for her money. Watch it below.