Adventures In 2014: Top 80 Songs

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Oh yeah, I went there this year.

For me, 2014 truly belonged to the singles, the stragglers, album tracks, and the lone guilty pleasures. Narrowing down the list of my favorite jams of the year to my usual 20 to 30 songs was just impossible for me to do, and I knew I couldn't live with myself if I left off some of my favorites of the year just because I didn't have room. So I decided that its my blog and I can do whatever the heck I want so I made plenty of room PLUS I even went the extra mile to make a handy Spotify playlist so you can enjoy the tracks in their full glory. Ain't I sweet or what? (Just note that not every song featured on this list is on the playlist as Spotify is saddity and doesn't always have everything that we all want when we need it.)

Also, for the list itself, not all the songs featured were covered on this blog or on my posts for SoulBounce. I always like surprising you guys, so prepare to go "Really, Jen? That lame ass song?" or "Oh wow! That is the most amazing song ever!" when you get your scroll on.

So take a peek at my top 80 songs of the year after the cut, and be sure to tell me in the comments about what songs you enjoyed this year!

80. Gimme All Of You - Boulevards: You'll dance the night away with these sharp flows and an amazing usage of a D Train classic --- trust me on this.

79. Body Of My Own - Charli XCXThe punk prom princess sneers with a "She Bop" for the feministic Millennial set, and it's some big time fun. 

78. Four Walls and a Garden - Shanez Dorsett: A cheeky and jazzy soul number from newcomer Dorsett who spins a tale about suburban unrest. 'Snarky Soul', should be a genre, no?   

77. Can't Rely On You (MK Remix) - Paloma Faith: Better than the original. More House than '60s Soul it should be, especially with the set of pipes Paloma possesses

76. Jealous - Nick Jonas: Pigs are flying. Unicorns are tap dancing on hot coals. Graves are overturning. Whatever. Nick Jonas had the earworm jam of the year and icantgetitoutofmyheadhelpme!!!

75. Call My Name - Avery*Sunshine: This was the year that I got into Avery*Sunshine (about damn time right?), and I was rewarded with this grown n' sexy cut.

74. Beating Heart - Ellie Goulding: So over-dramatic...and that is just the way I like my Ellie Goulding numbers.
73. Favourite Truth - Eric Lau (feat. Taiwah): My 'favourite' from the 'Love Call' EP.

72. After The Dance - Tittsworth (feat. Q-Tip, Theophilus London & Alison Carney): Q-Tip on a House number? Electric relax to this hypnotic beat...

71. Deep End - Coucheron (feat. Eastside and Mayer Hawthorne): Will play by the poolside in 2015 as the 'Vice City' vibe of this.

70. Last Chance To Dance - Ekkah: A plush neo-disco cut from the two coolest Rebeccas around.

69. Tell Me 'Bout That - K Stewart: Love the little vibraphone shuffle in the background. Rotates on some early 2000s attitude that Christina Aguilera and Mya might have done back in their prime. K Stewart is one to watch. 

68. Hey Boy - Goapele (feat. Snoop Dogg): Who would've thought that Snoop Dogg's addition would have changed this whole song around? Goapele tries on some lite n' whipped old school funk for size and nicely changes her tune.

67. Beautiful People - Lulu James: Not as talked about as last year's great "The Sweetest Thing" and "Closer", but Lulu James packs some vocal heat on this.

66. Simple Love - Julio Bashmore (feat. J. Danna): 2014 was the obviously the year of the House revival, and Jessie Ware's partner in crime had one of the great club cuts this year.

65. Rock With You - Ledisi: I like it when Ledisi sings happy songs.

64. Seashells - Florrie: I keep coming like a rollercoaster, like a rollercoaster and it gets me high...

63. Every Little Word - MNEK: Early '90s music written by someone who was born in the mid- '90s. It's a New Jack Swing thang.  

62. Love Never Felt So Good - Michael Jackson (feat. Justin Timberlake): Musical fan fiction. Yet, good musical fan fiction nonetheless as Timberlake gets to do the Michael Jackson duet he's had a hard-on for, and we get to enjoy a misbegotten summery brass laden sway from the Disco era. A win-win. 

61. Kisses - Reva DeVito: Some sweet hand-clapping soul from Portland's own Miss DeVito. She sprinkled some other good tunes throughout the year (see "Babesquad" and her cover of Sade's "The Sweetest Taboo"), but this one was my personal favorite. 

60. River - Ibeyi: The twin daughters of the late Buena Vista Social Club percussionist Anga Diaz bridge together there love for Yoruba folk songs and their Cuban background for a brisk take on electric Gospel. Baptize yourself in this... 

59. Just Once - Shura: Sweet and delicate, Shrua does aerial pop well as she glides into this slightly somber lullaby.

58. Cigarette Song - Raury: I know everybody loves "God's Whisper" better, but I really like the chapeau wearing crooner's usage of guitars in this snappy and multi-layered number. And even though guitars are completely absent on the Snakehips remix, it too is boss.  

57. Feels So Good - Kylie Minogue: MNEK produced this aquatic mid-groover granting Mingoue an intimate moment to slip into a loving and soulful abyss. So plush. 

56. Lowkey - Rochelle Jordan: Music bloggers aren't calling ROJO a reincarnation of Aaliyah for shits and giggles. This Canadian chanteuse just keeps getting better and better with each new single...

55. Look Up - Daley: While the rest of Daley's debut, 'Days & Nights' left little to desire, this Pharrell-produced cut allows Daley to show off those pristine pipes of his. 

54. Stay In Love - Plastic Plates (feat. Sam Sparro): Flying under the radar a bit, this hypnotizing cool down gets the added bonus of Sam Sparro as he spreads some soulful butter on it.

53. Tribe (feat. Jesse Boykins III) - Theophilus London: Pure unquenchable fire. London often makes panoramic rap anthems that are big on production and this is his boldest one yet. You have to crank this one up to experience the bass in this --- it's a must.

52. Clean - TIAAN: Tranquil and minimal, but still effective as it sensually calls on the night.

51. Superlove - Andreya Triana: Waltzes in a spin of orchestral strings and jolts of piano giving Triana her most vibrant track yet.

50. Pathetic - Erik Hassle: Hassle feels the (Prince) funk, turning over a new sound leaf in the process.

49. The Key - Breach (feat. Kelis): How Kelis had the time to toss around her zeal to guest spot in this spitfire club number is a marvel, but I'm glad she did because this song kicks. 

48. Bones Without You - Panes: Get lost in the static flurry of synths as you satellite around this heavy-duty love song.

47. Burning Gold (Bit Funk Remix) - Christina Perri: Bit Funk throws a little electronic spice on Perri's big diva number.

46. Rosetta - Kyan: Wonderfully layered track, and Kyan's voice is some kind of wonderful once that chorus kicks in.

45. Good Kisser (Disclosure Remix) - Usher: Bang bang bang! Usher had the ladies blushing with his melodic ode to taking things downtown, but Disclosure heighten the climax with their signature surge of beats. 

44. Your Love - Moko: The pom-pom braids of UK chantesue swish and sway to this potent House beat that gives off some good ol' Robin S. vibes.

43. I Don't Need Another Lover - Billie Black: This is some sophisticated future soul right here as 19-year-old Black combines her classic jazz vocal training with a steamy electronic vibe and the result puts her in league with other thoughtful chanteuses like Jessie Ware and Andreya Triana

42. Walk - Kwabs: Whoo-wee. Some BIG towering mountain majesty vocals here. Crossing fingers that Kwabs becomes an even bigger deal in 2015.

41. Lovin' Start - Betty Who: From Who's 'Slow Dancing' EP, a cut that harmonizes like a '90s R&B guy group a la All-4-One or Boyz II Men --- I'm being serious guys. 

40. Another Life - D'Angelo: The coda to 'Black Messiah' was my favorite track by far as it is just a straight up wistful and candid ode to love that reaches back to the crooning days of the Stylistics and Earth, Wind & Fire. We don't get many cuts like this anymore...  

39. Madhouse - Kimbra: Too complex to be appreciated as a single, but this song about finding peace in times of insanity is the moment where Kimbra meshes Bad era Michael Jackson with 'LoveSexy' era Prince --- and wins.

38. Brand New - Pharrell (feat. Justin Timberlake): My Spotify shuffle was obsessed with this song, but I'll admit I never turned it off as I was too busy dancing around to this fizzy brass laden number. I actually like it when P and JT get together so this was instant love for me. (And I'm boggled as to why this was never released as a single...just truly boggled...)

37. Impossible Heart - Paloma Faith: A buried frothy n' funky gem on 'A Perfect Contradiction' where Paloma rhythms her blues out.  

36. Whole Damn Year - Mary J. Blige: Emeli Sande scribes MJB with a melancholic and poignant portrait about the four seasons of dealing with trust issues. It instantly ranks among some of Mary's best ballads. 

35. Real Love - Clean Bandit (feat. Jess Glynne): I love it when Glynne does that vocal run when she's singing "real love". Shivers.

34. Say Something - Karen Harding: A former X Factor contestant does good by bringing a little D-I-V-A to UK House. 

33. Stay With Me - Sam Smith: Hard to ignore, but Mr. Smith became a big deal this year, and his #1 single is a sobering hymn about wanting more from a one-night stand. God bless, Sam Smith and his voice. 

32. Alone - Selah Sue: Ditching the Reggae ragamuffin style of her 2011 debut, the Belgian singer teams with Robin Hannibal for the Quadron-esque toe-tapper. To be continued in 2015...

31. Supernatural - Aluna George: The twosome plan their next sound venture with this gurgling '80s tinged number.

30. Games - TCTS (feat. K Stewart): Yes. Yet another House number. Noticing the trend? Still K Stewart joining producer TCTS and going for the vocal gusto was one of the more (underrated) efforts. 

29. If Only - Kylie Minogue: Off the bat, this sweeping power ballad wasn't my favorite from 'Kiss Me Once', but it took a little time and then I fell in love with how gloriously built this song is right down to its bombardment of drums and that awkward out-of-tune opening. Even with her limited vocal range, Minogue vocally crackles and goes full-tilt powerhouse diva. I gotta see her perform this one live... 

28. Treat Me Like Fire - Lion Babe: Worships at the House of Baduizm, and I'm all here for that.

27. Ambien - Blank Paper: The total opposite of Ambien...80s synth heaven at your service.

26. Let Me Down Gently - La Roux: Quiet as kept, 2014 also brought back the epic power ballad and I welcomed La Roux's (aka Elly Jackson) return as she had the most gripping ballad of them all. 

25. Curtain Call - Steed Lord: Such a crisp and clean meditation that is feeling very 1985.

24. Distance - Emily King: King always eases heartbreak and angst with her sweeten soul. The video was pop art treat.

23. Froot - Marina & The Diamonds: Kooky disco froth from Madame Marina Diamandis. The Oliver Nelson remix of this is also very delightful and even more Studio 54 worthy...

22. Go All Night - Gorgon City (feat. Jennifer Hudson): JHUD's voice was made to climb into the House heavens like this. Clearly one of the best vocal slayings she's done since her 'Dreamgirls' stuff.

21. Lonely Roller - Stephen A. Clark: A noir-ish tale about a whirlwind romance that lounges in a bed of gorgeous strings and guitar riffs. Such great production quality on this one. We definitely need more R&B men like Stephen A. Clark.

20. Comeback - Ella Eyre: For all the scorned ones, raise your middle fingers to the best "fuck you" track of 2014. Ella Eyre, her voice, and her gorgeous hair aren't playin' around y'all...

19. Let Go - Little Dragon: I love that Yukimi and the boys were inspired by Janet Jackson's slower grooves for this one, because I can soooo hear that on this.

18. Mister Chameleon - KING: A lament about getting out of a relationship with a notorious cheater never sounded so angelic. 

17. Busy Earnin' - Jungle: It's amazing how this song hasn't blasted from the loudspeakers during a  professional sports match-up. Seriously, it's time to retire "N**gas In Paris" (I swear they play that song during every mutha fuggin' Spurs game...) and give Jungle's synth swag some game time. 

16. Tough Love - Jessie Ware: Snatches of the musical backdrop of Prince's "Little Red Corvette" sneak in, and encase the fragility of Ware's woeful cries. A beautiful song. 

15. Gust Of Wind - Pharrell (feat. Daft Punk): So much greatness going on this from those knife cutting violins, to Daft Punk's signature warbles, to Pharrell going back to his N.E.R.D. ways...just a perfectly layered track. And silly people kept pushing "Happy" over this gem...

14. Right Here - Jess Glynne: Outside of the Clean Bandit guest spots, Glynne holds her own on this hoppin' House number. 

13. Jaywalk - Brayton Bowman: Get swept away in the tidal wave of synths and Bowman's razor-edged way of getting over an old flame. 

12. Hard Time - Seinabo Sey: So ruff and so tough, Seinabo Sey throws some vocal daggers as she forgives, but doesn't forgets.

11. Figure It Out - Ekkah: More shimmering neo-disco from the two Rebeccas, except this one has a sort of frosty '80s sophistic-pop glean to it complete with juicy bass licks.

10. Paradise - Sinead Harnett: I grappled which Harnett track to place on my list, but in the end, "Paradise" just won out. I stand by the fact that it sinks into a steamy lagoon of Fugees-meets-'Butterfly'-era-Mariah Carey and does all the right 'cool like dat' things instrumentation wise.

9. Heartbreak Dream - Betty Who: Even better than her breakout single, "Somebody Loves You". The complexities of heartbreak never sounded so euphoric.

8. If I Could Change Your Mind (Cerrone Funk Remix) - HAIM: Italo-disco legend, Cerrone swathes the sisters Haim in gold lame and gives them something to bounce, skate, and rock with. I truly wore this remix out this year, so much so to the point where I have forgotten how the original sounds...

7. Miracle - Kimbra: *twirls around in a rainbow gown a la Diana Ross in 'Mahogany'*

6. Wrote A Song About You - MNEK: I bet when Craig David heard this he threw a fit because it totally feels plucked from 'Born To Do It', but whatever, MNEK did the damn thing on this, and I actually liked this one better than "Every Little Word".  

5. Hideaway - Kiesza: Yep, still loving every fiber of this song even though everybody and their Momma probably hates it at this point due to the overplay. I hope Kiesza sticks around for awhile because her voice is just a force. 

4. Call You Out - JUCE: If Kelis fronted HAIM...but JUCE are onto something of their own craftwork with their brand of funk tinged indie pop. I'm predicting we'll see more of them in 2015, if not, it'll be criminal.

3. Jerk Ribs - Kelis: A sweet sticky horn thang that just feels like it should. Kelis going back to the ground roots of soul was one of the more underrated jams of the year. 

2. Uptown Funk - Mark Ronson (feat. Bruno Mars): Plays like a primer on all things post-disco funk as you'll have fun naming all the influences (Rick James, The Time, Cameo, and Zapp come to mind for me). And while this patchwork of R&B's glory days could have been a disaster, Ronson and Mars do it with great boastful flourish. Plus Mars kicked ass at the Super Bowl, so he can pretty much do whatever he wants to do now...

1. Meteorite - Mariah Carey: My stan is showing but I don't care, I L-O-V-E it. Q-Tip gifted Mariah with one of the most unique songs she's done in years as it's stacked with a smart Eddie Kendricks sample, great chorus break, and Mariah's signature vocal runs for the grand finale. Mariah's team is allergic to good single choices so I'm not expecting this to be released anytime soon, but I'm comforted to know that amid the quite stilted maudlin R&B/hip-hop tunes she keeps peddling, she is still interested in doing something that is out of the box and allows her to vocally explore.


  1. 80 great songs plus a playlist, you're a gem :) Thanks for taking the time to do this. Though I'm surprised Banks didn't make on, she was definitely a standout for me in 2014.

  2. Thanks Brie for loving the list! I'm also glad you liked the playlist, as that clues to me that there will be more playlists on this blog in the future *wink*

    I am too surprised that Banks didn't make the list, lol. I was going through a bunch of songs from the list I keep every year, and while organizing it...she just didn't pop up, but I'm glad you enjoyed her album. She's still on my one's to watch out for list though :-)


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