If you know me, you know I have a very VERY wide taste in music and my iTunes library looks like that of a seventh grade girl who grew up on the streets of Compton and was born in the 60s; so basically I love rap, rock & roll, and pop music. I don’t like to listen to the radio a lot; but every once in a while when I do I find these pops songs that show up on Kiss 108 Top 40 countdowns and iTunes top 100 lists. Nine times out of ten I say, “I hate this song, what is this?” Then a week later I hear it again and go, “Crap, this song is amazing.” If the song is lucky enough, I’ll download it and queue it up in my iTunes library, thus learning all the words to said songs and screaming my heart out to them whether it beat a party, dance, gala event, or just in my car on the way to Chipotle. So anyway, this is my list of the top 20 radio pop songs that made their way into my iTunes library this year. There WERE songs that I liked more that haven’t made their way to the radio yet, but I’m sticking to only singles that have been heard nationwide.
20. Out of the Woods by Taylor Swift
Queen Tay’s new record, 1989 made waves this past October with Swift taking her talents full pop and leaving her country past behind. Some say they like old Taylor better, I say she never left. This song proves that Taylor is still with us as redefined as she may be with a song about love (Of course) and its constant repetitions show listeners what it’s like to be going around in circles with someone only to fall apart and then pick up the pieces again; thus giving us all the question, “Are we out of the woods yet?” Also since Taylor took her music off of YouTube (besides her two music videos from 1989) I can only provide you with a clip from when she performed the single on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
19. Sing by Ed Sheeran
Sing got hot over the summer and with my 16 year old campers, it came to no surprise that a song like this was on repeat whenever we were near an iPod. I grew on me after about a day or two, and I have to admit I do love Sheeran’s vocals and they resonate on the rest of the album.
18. Bang Bang by Jessie J., Ariana Grande, & Nicki Minaj
Jessie J. kinda had a comeback this year with this single opening up the MTV Video Music Awards this summer. This is also the year that I fell in love with Ariana Grande and you’ll be sure to see her name pop up later on this list. Nicki Minaj, if you ask me, has had a slow past couple of years but she closes out the song with a sufficient rap without taking two much away from Jessie and Ariana’s verses before.
17. Rather Be (feat. Jess Glynne) by Clean Bandit
While I like this song, I have to admit there are remixes of it that I like better. Two that stand out for me are Eliphante’s remix and Jack LNDN’s. I still enjoy Jess Glynne’s vocals in either version and the song came out at the perfect time for me when I was at summer camp, somewhere that I’d always rather be than where I am.
16. Anaconda by Nicki Minaj
I HATED this song when it first came out. I hated that Sir Mix-A-Lot was sampled in the chorus, I hated the music video and the fact that Drake was shoehorned into it. I’ll be honest, though, I was at a club, I had a couple of drinks, and this song came on, and the next thing I knew I was all about it. It’s a very mediocre song if you ask me objectively; but it definitely echoes in your ears when you’re preoccupied with something else, thus forcing you to give it another go.
15. Problem (feat. Iggy Azalea) by Ariana Grande
Like I said, Ariana was going to show up on this list again. Arguably the poster song of her new album, My Everything, Ariana shows off her range and is even backed up by one of, if not the best raps that Iggy Azalea provides at the end. Big Sean is uncredited with the vocals of the chorus as well, and its upbeat saxophone providing a tone really helps present a case for all the artists in the song.
14. Fancy (feat. Charli XCX) by Iggy Azalea
Iggy’s first album, The New Classic took the whole world by surprise I think. I mean I really didn’t expect much from an Australian white girl who came literally out of nowhere this year. Expect big things from Iggy over the next year, because I have a feeling if she hasn’t blown up yet, she’s about to.
13. Latch feat. Sam Smith by Disclosure
Yes, this album came out last year; but it didn’t really arrive on the radio until this year. Sam Smith is one of the best voices in pop vocals right now and this song about getting closer to that special someone, whether they be male or female, sets a really cool tone in any room. The pop/electric beat is something I can really get on board with, and the acoustic version of this song brings me to tears; I’ll include that too, below.
12. Love me Harder by Ariana Grande & The Weeknd (Not a misspelling, that’s how its spelled)
There’s always that song that really throws niceties out the door and puts its message right out there for you. For Ariana Grande, this is that song about finding someone to “Love you harder” in order for her to stick around. I don’t listen to The Weeknd that much but he/they (I’m not entirely sure what the deal is, if it’s one person or a group) kills it in this song. Again, really just throwing subtlety out the door and making references to pressure between hips and whatnot. I gotta tell you though, it’s not in anyway disrespectful to either gender, which is always nice. I also don’t think anyone could be more beautiful than Ariana Grande is in this music video.
11. Team by Lorde
To put it bluntly, a group of my friends essentially developed a cult around Lorde. They al bought her album and listened to her literally all day every day. Then I came back from home for the spring semester and the next thing I knew I was listening to nothing but Lorde for the next three weeks. This song was one of my favorite songs on the record, so I wasn’t too mad when it showed up on the radio. I like Lorde’s voice, and I hope her next album is just as good as this one.
10. Love Never Felt So Good by Michael Jackson & Justin Timberlake
This year, we were treated to an album titled Xscape which showcased un-released songs from the now deceased king of pop, Michael Jackson. Jackson’s vocals are just as we remember them and the song sends you back to the 80s for sure. However when the arguably new king of pop, Justin Timberlake, comes to town and provides backup vocals and a breakdown with samples from his most recent album, The 20/20 Experience, that’s when the single becomes something a little more. I love this collaboration (Can we still call it a collaboration even though Jackson’s no longer with us?) and it truly makes me miss Michael and the impact he had on pop music.
9. All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor
I really like this song and the message it sends. Trainor is a new talent who openly admits she isn’t the skinniest girl in the business. This song helps resonate the fact that just because you’re not a stick, doesn’t mean you aren’t beautiful. She bashes models and their photoshopped silicon faces and shows both men and women that there’s nothing wrong with a little bass. Also my incredibly talented friend taught me a dance that her A cappella group did for this song and I’m not gonna say I kill it… But I totally do.
8. Blank Space by Taylor Swift
Blank Space is every psycho’s dream, even mine. Taylor embraces her “crazy” side and sings about dying to see how this next relationship ends and how she is a nightmare dressed like a day dream. A lot of people argue this is the best song on the record, and while I do think it’s awesome, I wouldn’t say its THE BEST. My favorite song on the album has yet to be showcased on the radio which is why it didn’t make this list. Taylor shows off her vocals more than ever in the final run at the chorus, and she leaves you with chills when the song cuts to silence. Definitely a high point on her album for sure, and worth a listen if you’ve been living under a rock the past few months.
7. Stay With Me by Sam Smith
Sam Smith’s vocals and range are on display again as he sings about not wanting a one night stand to end because he’s tired of being alone. The song is emotional and cuts you right to the feels for sure. If you didn’t know this about Smith, he is actually openly gay and he went on record to say that he doesn’t like singing about certain genders because he wants his music to resonate with both men and women listening. That is awesome if you ask me. I think Smith is a talent that is surely to keep entertaining and he certainly knows how to market himself.
6. Partition by Beyoncé
Bey came back this year with an album literally out of nowhere and rocked the female pop world. Literally, I woke up one morning, looked at my computer and said, “Wait, Beyoncé’s got a new album?” Drunk in Love was a great single to introduce us to the tone of the record, but it’s Partition that sends her into the stratosphere. Yes, Ariana Grande’s single, Love Me Harder, is sexual in its own way, but not nearly on the level that Partition is. Partition grabs you by the belt, pulls you into the nearest back alley and just takes you on the ride of your life. A ride only Beyoncé can take you on. The song as well as the album reminds anyone out there who thinks they can challenge her to “bow down”.
5. Boom Clap by Charli XCX
Charli XCX has been featured in multiple songs over the course of 2014, and finally we were treated to a solo single by the artist early in the summer. The song coincided with the release of The Fault in our Stars, showing up in the film and on the soundtrack, and it didn’t take long for it to show up on the radio. It’s a really happy song, to say the least, and gives you those tingles when the chorus drops and Charli shows off her talent. She kinda looks like Lorde but I’ll get over it.
4. Birthday by Katy Perry
Katy Perry’s new album, PRISM was met with very positive reviews, and one of the singles from it to show up on the radio was Birthday. Birthday is subtle in the sense that it doesn’t necessarily tell you clear cut what’s coming but it doesn’t take long for listeners to connect the dots and figure out just what birthday present Perry is referring to this year. Katy Perry is still on top of her game showing off her vocals and there’s this one part of the song in particular where she says, “Happy birthday,” that just does all sorts of things to my system. I think she’s beautiful, talented, and she truly cares about her fan base as well. Perry knows how to market herself whether it is in music or business and I think she still has yet to reach her peak.
3. Shake it Off by Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift wrote a song about taking problems and haters and just shaking them off and not really giving a rat’s ass who cares what she does. You think this song is gonna resonate with her demographic? YEAH. I think 1989, from the beginning, goes in an upward momentum in regards to this redefined Taylor Swift and Shake it Off is when the album peaks in regards to that. Shake it Off is Taylor’s, “F-U,” to the media and everyone who doubts any decision she makes. The upbeat rhythm makes you wanna dance and groove with her, which no doubt is her initial intention. I think this song is the definition of a guilty pleasure for “Swift Haters” because I know TONS of people who admitted this song is catchy. Hell, even Saturday Night Live did a spoof on just how catchy this song can be.
2. Break Free (feat. Zedd) by Ariana Grande
What do you get when you put Reed Peraner’s favorite electric artist, Zedd, with his new favorite female pop singer, Ariana Grande? Gold. Gold is what you get. This song is exciting, well versed, and you can’t help but feel a sense of confidence when you hear Grande pour her heart out about not being a victim of someone whose wronged her. Zedd’s beat kills it and makes this something that doesn’t even need a remix to be played at a club. Also Ariana’s voice rasp at the 0:30 mark is like the hottest thing to me. I couldn’t tell you why but it is. This song, and my number 1 choice are two songs that if they come on my shuffle, there is just no way I am skipping them.
*Drum Roll for Number 1 please!*
1. Say Something by A Great Big World
My God. Have you ever come across a song that just cuts you straight to your core and rips your heart out only to put it back in so you can feel just about every feeling when listening to this song? That’s me when Say Something comes on. It started with my fraternity when one of my brothers started playing it at random times and then the song just kept growing on me, and growing on me. It expresses humility, sadness, regret, and showcases the vocals of Ian Axel and Christina Aguilera, depending on the version you listen to. I actually prefer the version that DOESN’T include Aguilera; but that doesn’t mean her version isn’t also packed with emotion. My friends at school even began to associate this song with me because if I ever came on, no matter what I was doing, my ears would perk and I would begin to poor my heart out to whoever was within listening distance. It’s a song that makes you think of him or her, wherever they may be, and its indie-piano music stays with you.
Thanks for reading; if you disagree with any of these choices or wish to present your top 10 pop songs from this year, I highly recommend you chime in in the comments section. Have a happy New Year!
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