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The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

25 of the Best Songs of 2014

Courtesy of Flickr/Laura Porto
Charli XCX is one of the most recognizable names in pop music from 2014.

2014 may not be classified as the best year in the history of music, but it was most certainly a memorable one. Music lovers saw two main trends, one being nostalgia and the other being comebacks from artists. Artists seemingly recalled their past as many channeled sounds one would hear in the ’80s or ’90s, and we also saw many, such as former teen stars and stars who had been on hiatus, revive their careers.

Check out some WJ students’ picks for their favorite song of the year below and then dive into The Pitch Online’s choices for the best 25 songs of the year.

25. “Breaking Up” by Charli XCX

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This song was recently released but conveys the sweet and sugary ’80s nostalgia featured on “Sucker” by Charli XCX, one of 2014’s best album releases. The pop-punk diva previously made waves by featuring on chart-toppers like “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea and “I Love It” by Icona Pop but this year, we saw the singer break into her element, charting number eight on the Billboard charts with her solo hit, “Boom Clap.” While some may be turned away by Charli’s voice, having a rawer sound than most pop artists, no one can deny that she currently holds the crown of the pop-rock genre, once ruled by Paramore’s Hayley Williams and Avril Lavigne.

24. “OctaHate” by Ryn Weaver

Possibly the strongest debut of the year came from former actress Aryn Wüthrich, better known as Ryn Weaver. With a team of the hottest producers behind her, including Benny Blanco, Cashmere Cat and Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos, 2014 saw Weaver with a massive viral hit on her hands in “OctaHate.” Expect to see Weaver top the charts next year.

23. “Left Hand Free” by Alt-J

After winning the prestigious Mercury Award and unfortunately losing a member, Alt-J came back strong with their sophomore album, “This Is All Yours.” Surprisingly, the best track from that album derives solely from rock-country roots, sharply turning from their familiar mellow, synthetic beats.

22. “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars

Despite its late release, “Uptown Funk” is one of the most enjoyable and versatile songs of the year. British producer/instrumentalist Mark Ronson excelled at what he does best- making brass-heavy tracks. Pairing up with the arguably funkiest man in music right now just proves how great Ronson is at what he does.

21. “Hideaway” by Kiesza

This music video’s view count is baffling (now over 165 million and counting), but what’s even more shocking  is that Kiesza has yet to become a household name, and the “Hideaway” wasn’t a hit in the United States. The Robin S-esque beat makes it almost impossible for listeners to skip to the next song.

20. “Carousel” by Melanie Martinez

Melanie Martinez is shaping up to be the biggest export from singing competition, “The Voice.” Known for her kid-inspired concepts and a gap between her two front teeth, Martinez excels in “Carousel,” a song that was featured most recently in “American Horror Story: Freak Show’s” trailer, which went viral. Phrases like “cotton candy heart” and breakdowns such as the one in “Carousel” that mix dubstep with what seems to be a child’s xylophone make the wait for Martinez’s debut album, “Cry Baby,” due in spring of next year, feel infinite.

19. “Dangerous” by Big Data featuring Joywave (Warning: Video may be gory to some.)

What makes Big Data’s first song incredibly accessible lies in the lyrics of the song. An industry filled with songs about constant partying and tiring relationships allows “Dangerous” to stand out, singing about such an obscure topic of being technologically paranoid. The band excels at what others fail at: being creative.

18. “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift is music’s person of the year. She basically revived the concept of an album by releasing “1989,” which went platinum in its first week, a feat that hasn’t been achieved since Eminem’s 2003 release, “The Eminem Show.” “Blank Space” is a great example of how Swift conquered 2014 in only a couple of months. The song was released on Yahoo! by accident, and it became an instant  number one hit. There was no word from Swift to check out the video until days later, but in 24 hours, “Blank Space” became one of the biggest songs of the year.

17. “Heartstrings” by Leighton Meester

What is so surprising about this song being in the top 25 songs of the year is that Meester, former actress of “Gossip Girl,” has made barely any waves with her new music, yet it is the best of her career. Fusing Americana with Lana Del Rey-like baroque pop, “Heartstrings” as a song and an album will be one of the most overlooked albums of this decade.

16. “Reflections” by MisterWives

MisterWives is on the brink of super fame. Having opened for American Authors, Twenty One Pilots and The Royal Concept, the quintet fits right into the pop-rock aesthetic that label Photo Finish Records has created in the past. “Reflections” is one of the catchiest songs of 2014 and lead singer Mandy Lee hits all the right notes with her powerfully soft voice.

15. “I Wanna Get Better” by Bleachers

This year, Jack Antonoff, best-known from the band, Fun., made his debut as a frontman in his side project, Bleachers. In their lead single, Antonoff, who also acts as producer on the project, channels the blaring guitars once used in staple ’80s rock bands, making this song unique to the mostly simplistic pop released this year.

14. “Desire” by Years & Years

In the past, Maroon 5 and OneRepublic’s lead singers, Adam Levine and Ryan Tedder, have broken out to be known on their own, and this is the future for Years & Years’ Olly Alexander.  Alexander’s falsetto mixed with ’90s-inspired synths is the most memorable combination to come out of music to date.

13. “I Will Never Let You Down” by Rita Ora

“I Will Never Let You Down” has a unique quality; it can almost transport listeners to the dog days of summer. Despite missing the mark in the United States, Ora has been a staple for all over Europe, acting a Euro-stand-in for Rihanna, and it’s easy to see why. Her catchy guitar riffs and sing-along hooks make her unavoidable, in a good way.

12. “Digital Witness” by St. Vincent

Complete with flaring horns, Annie Clark, most commonly known as St. Vincent, lectures her “subjects” on the affects of social media on our generation. “What’s the point of even sleeping?” questions Clark as she debunks the importance of Twitter and Facebook.

11. “Lips Are Movin” by Meghan Trainor

While Trainor’s megahit, “All About That Bass,” spurred from viral success, “Lips Are Movin” proves a new diva is here to stay and she can rap too! “Lips Are Movin” brings back sugary bubblegum pop and fills a void once ruled by Fergie and Christina Aguilera (see “Candyman” and “Clumsy.”) Meghan proves synths and gimmick-like drops aren’t needed to make a great hit.

10. “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran

2014 was a big year for British crooner Ed Sheeran, but he hit the spot with his sickeningly nectarous love song. The intro and first verse solely feature his voice and his guitar, which show that they are a truely a match made in heaven.

9. “Bang Bang” by Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj

The collaboration we didn’t know we needed in our lives: “Bang Bang.” This banger, no pun intended, showed how 2014’s year in music was dominated by strong women from all over the globe. Jessie J’s incredibly strong vocals with Ariana Grande’s Mariah-like whistle tones and a hardcore verse from Nicki Minaj made for one of the best songs of the year.

8. “Shut Up And Dance” by Walk The Moon

After a three year hiatus, Walk The Moon came back in a big way this year. The release of “Shut Up And Dance” may end up giving them their first Billboard Hot 100 hit, as its currently creeping up the chart on iTunes and gaining airplay on the radio. Its hit status would be no surprise as Walk The Moon is one of the most popular alternative bands of today.

7. “Ghost” by Ella Henderson

While many claim they have lost their faith in finding new talent on televised singing competitions, the United Kingdom saw a re-birth of talent competitions when this young lady auditioned for the UK version of “The X Factor.” 18-year old Ella Henderson is considered by many as easy competition to powerhouses such as Adele and Katy Perry. Produced by OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder, “Ghost” is definitely up there when it comes to the best pop songs of the year.

6. “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX

The first time you hear a song, its a hit or miss, but the five beats repeated within “Fancy” make it instantaneously likable. For most, this was their introduction to rapper Iggy Azalea, who became a hosuehold name this year. You would probably be lying if you said you did not like “Fancy,” even for a little bit. The “Clueless” inspired music video and simplistic beat made it incredibly accessible but unfortunately, many people thought the bliss of the song was ruined when it became almost unavoidable in the first half of 2014.

5. “Jealous” by Nick Jonas

Nick Jonas definitely wins the award this year for “best unnecessary comeback,” but can we say we can’t get enough of him now? The “Jealous” hit-maker is surprisingly soulful and its sort of amazing. He must be pretty glad the Jonas Brothers didn’t go through with their comeback.

4. “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith

On Nov. 30, the BBC announced their longlist for their “Sound Of 2015” contest, which marked a full circle for British singer Sam Smith. Smith won the contest in 2014, which predicted his big year in 2014. No surprise, they were right. “Stay With Me” was arguably the biggest mainstream song of the year, and being that it was Sam’s first stateside single, its an impressive feat.

3. “Beggin’ For Thread” by Banks

“So I got itches that scratch,” lulls Banks, a native of Los Angeles. This song is a devilishly enthralling song that grabs the listener and drags them into the dark world created by singer/songwriter Jillian Banks.

2. “Chandelier” by Sia

Sia Furler, best known for writing hits like “Diamonds” by Rihanna and “Titanium” by David Guetta,  finally has struck a chord in the mainstream. “Chandelier” is one of the year’s best releases because of what Sia excels best at– lyrics. Furler made waves as she metaphorically referred to her struggle with alcoholism as “swinging from the chandelier” and filmed what should have been titled the best video of the year.

1. “Seasons (Waiting On You)” by Future Islands

Yes, you most likely don’t know this song, but one listen, and you fall in love. Complete with dreamy synthesizers and vocals from Samuel T. Herring, notably one of the most eccentric lead singers as of recently, “Seasons (Waiting On You)” sounds like a classic rock and ’80s pop hybrid perfect for any time of the year. More importantly, Herring wrote a song that applies universally to anyone and infused his “sad-white-boy soul,” as Rolling Stone puts it, into a fantastic, memorable song.

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Evan Candelmo, Co-Online Editor-in-Chief
Senior Evan Candelmo is excited to continue his work on The Pitch Online as the Co-Online Editor-In-Chief. Besides being involved in the Leadership class at WJ, Evan spends most of his time working on his own magazine, Line-Up. Evan is thrilled to lead with the new online team and think of more Pitch puns. #PitchBetterHaveMyMoney [email protected]
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