Year End Recap: The Best Of 2014

2014 was the year I went to 16 concerts and met one of my life-long heroes.

I  got my wish granted with a 3-disc "Super Deluxe Edition" of Bon Jovi's best album, 1988's New Jersey, featuring all the outtakes that would have been on the double-album "Sons of Beaches" if only for that damn record company. I cried hearing the songs I'd only ever heard in 96 kbps quality from MP3s I'd downloaded in 2001.

And hey, the music released this year didn't suck either.

10. Fall Out Boy - "Centuries"

Tailor made for an arena, with handclaps and a thundering chorus. Black and gold and a new found confidence in Pete Wentz's operatic lyrics. The slightest of snarls behind Patrick Stump's fovever youthful voice. Giving the mummified dreams of late 20-somethings a song to sink their teeth into.

The only reason I'm ranking this song at #10 is because it only found its way into my everyday playlist in the last month or so of 2014. Had it been released earlier in the years, we might have been talking about a Top 5 finish. The sample of "Tom's Diner" originally by Suzanne Vega (which hit big in 1990 with a remix - '90's nostalgia has been an undercurrent of popular music all year), but interestingly the band chose to re-record the sample with a new singer.

Mummified my teenage dreams
No, it's nothing wrong with me
The kids are all wrong
The story's all off
Heavy metal broke my heart

9. Maddie & Tae - "Girl In A Country Song"

A clever send-up of the bro-country trend that might have been the proverbial nail in the coffin for this young country duo. Much has been said about the difficulty that female country artists have breaking through in the industry these days, however these girls killed it with their debut single and garnered a lot of attention from the media for their fearlessness in confronting the female stereotypes in country music (see: Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, Chris Young, and ESPECIALLY Florida-Georgia Line). Of course all these male country acts are popular for good reasons - they are great performers and entertainers, and their songs are catchy as hell. However, if I hear one more song that is only about beer, girls, and this point it just seems as though the party anthem centric lyrics of pop music (see: Kesha, Pitbull, Pitbull featuring Kesha) have simply moved over to country music. That's why this song is so refreshing and innovative at this point. Kudos to these girls for showing sass in their breakthrough and showing the boys how it's done.

8. Fifth Harmony - "Bo$$"

This song will be almost instantly outdated in a year or two, with its references to Michelle Obama, Oprah, the "nae nae", "bae", "thirstin'", Kanye West, and Ray J. We'll look back on this song fondly as part of the halycon days of 2014 (whatever that means). Just try to resist. You can't. I know.

7. Ed Sheeran - "Don't"

The kind of tongue-twisting, lyrically-specific acoustic-y hit that is one in a million. Supposedly inspired by Ellie Goulding cheating on Sheeran with Niall from One Direction, or a soap opera of hot young British singers.

6. Iggy Azelea & Charli XCX - "Fancy"

This song was everywhere in 2014, in no small part due to its clever video homage to Clueless. That perfectly played on our 90's nostalgia while firmly digging its toes into 2014. A monstrous hook courtesy of Charli XCX. Getting drunk on the minibar and playing Suck & Blow never sounded so good.

5. Miranda Lambert & Carrie Underwood - "Somethin' Bad"

Billed as one of the biggest country duets of the year. Miranda and Carrie are arguably the two most popular female singers in country music. I have to admit the first time I listened to this duet it didn't grab me. Until it did. And until it usurped songs I've had for years on my Top 25 Most Played list. A spitfire, rapid, rabid chorus and a stomp along beat.

4. Walk The Moon - "Shut Up And Dance"

One part The Killers, one part Neon Trees, with a sprinkling of Duran Duran and 80's new wave. This Free Song Of The Week on iTunes soon found a home on my Top 25 Most Played list.

3. Neon Trees - "Sleeping With A Friend"

Choosing to wait for the next train at the 90's nostalgia station, Neon Trees rejected the trend and went straight back to the 1980's. All day-glo optimism, new wave keyboards, synthesizers, keytars, and a cotton-candy chorus. Resistance is futile.

2. Sia - "Chandelier"

The proverbial breath of fresh air in a musical wasteland of Dr. Luke rejects. The brutal flip side of the party anthem, when the party goes on too long and the tears run hot with Everclear. The most unlikely pop hit of 2014. Under the blurry veneer, the pain of a thousand jagged knives runs through Sia's delivery.

1. Taylor Swift - "Style"

The best song, hands down, off Taylor's already-classic 1989 album. The album, in just about 2 months of release, overtook the Frozen soundtrack to be the best selling album of 2014. A slick, gorgeous, aching story between two people who know they're better off alone but can't resist. A speeding car with no headlights, driving to nowhere fast. The sound of Taylor Swift solidifying her place in music history.

[Note: For those of you under a rock, Taylor removed all her music from Spotify and YouTube except for her official Vevo channel, so below I've posted the link to a fabulous mashup of "Blank Space" and "Style" by Louisa Wendorff.]

I say I heard that you been out and about with some other girl
Some other girl
He says, what you've heard it's true
But I can't stop thinking about you and I
I said I've been there too a few times

Honorable Mentions
* Cold War Kids - "First"

* Taylor Swift - "Wildest Dreams"
* Jessie J, Ariana Grande, & Nicki Minaj - "Bang Bang"
* Meghan Trainor - "Lips Are Movin'"
* Echosmith - "Cool Kids"
* Enrique Iglesias - "Bailando"
* Jessica Meuse - "Blue Eyed Lie"