Welcome back to our countdown of the top 50 tracks of 2014, curated by yours truly. So far in our list of jams, we have included some obvious heavy hitters (“Morning” by Beck) and a few sleepers (Check out “Lift Me Up” by Nick Hakim for some great, uplifting–heh–soul music), and we plan to continue onward with a few surprises and consistently great music in our review of all of our favorite tracks that came out this year. Be sure to continue checking in every day this week at 6pm PST for 10 more tracks! Now, without further ado, it’s about time things got a little bit “Tacky“.
“Weird Al” Yankovic – “Tacky”
2014 would have been way too bleak without some much needed irreverence from our main champion and ambassador of silliness, “Weird Al.” Having grown up on “Weird Al” parodies, I thought Mandatory Fun was a welcome return to form, and I was not alone in this. After Al rose to the Billboard number one spot, it became clear that many people relied on him for a much needed knee-slap in the midst of a tumultuous year. It might seem crazy wearing stripes and plaid, but you know what isn’t crazy? Watching “Tacky” on repeat.
Bully – “Milkman”
If you miss the halcyon days when grunge had a moment in mainstream radio, then you’ll really appreciate the excellently produced rocker “Milkman” by Nashville-based Bully. Lead singer and producer, Alicia Bognanno studied sound engineering at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio studio which makes a lot of sense considering this is the same Steve Albini that produced Nirvana’s In Utero. The reference point isn’t hollow–Bully are the real thing and we are stoked to hear a full release from them soon.
Azealia Banks – “Soda”
Oh, another beverage themed song? Nice. Azealia Banks reputation precedes her in 2014, for better or worse. That is because we have been waiting for her debut album, Broke With Expensive Taste for three years and in the interim, she had made herself notorious for inane and insane twitter beefs with some highly visible people. The fact that her album was really good certainly doesn’t validate her seemingly childish behavior, but she is clearly a talented songwriter and its about time she was able to remind people of that this year. “Soda” is healthy dose of Technotronic-style hop house that will make you want to take a hip hop dance class.
Royce Wood Junior – “Rover”
“Rover” is a make-out out jam for aliens. It sort of sounds like if you removed the pirate radio element from a Jai Paul song and glossed over the recording with a slightly housey beat and then threw silver glitter on the vinyl. It is sexy and strange, and probably one because of the other.
Porter Robinson – “Divinity”
For being an EDM song, probably labeled lazily and much to the chagrin of Porter Robinson, “Divinity” is a very pretty song whose brightest moments are in the brief respites between the four-on-the-floor explosions. The contrast between the two very distinct part of the songs makes either feel more essential–very yin-yang, very replayable.
Tinashe – “Aquarius”
Tinashe very sneakily tricked us into thinking she was about to release a whole album of top-40 friendly club songs when she put out “2 On”. Turns out it was a smart ploy to lure the general public toward her viscid, aqueous, and extremely sexy debut album. At the end of “Aquarius”, the sonic equivalent of a rose scented fog machine, Tinashe breathily says, “Welcome to my world.” Happy to be here.
Aphex Twin – “minipops 67 [120.2][source field mix]”
At this point I am fairly convinced the Richard David James a/k/a Aphex Twin titled all the tracks on his album Syro just to toy with the media that would inevitably fawn over it and report on it (sup). But being acutely aware of how media/music expectations work and flouncing them 100-percent has always been Aphex Twin’s MO. This year he released an album that sounds like nothing else in music except for an Aphex Twin album, and I can’t help but feel like there is a joke that I am not in on.
RATKING – “So Sick Stories”
Describing the sound of New York Hip Hop in 2014 is an impossible task. We are 20+ years away from the Golden Era of Biggie, Big L, Jay-Z, and NYC is not even close to the same city that it used to be. The closest I think we have come to an identifiable sound recently is Ratking’s striking So It Goes, which sounds like a collage of all the different Burroughs that is tasked with representing. “So Sick Stories” features emcee Wiki’s flexible lyrical prowess as he and fellow frontman Hak try to make reconcile the Manhattan they grew up in with the one they live in.
Quilt – “Tie Up The Tides”
Quilt sound like they were the offspring of flower children who weaned them on musical instruments from the time they were in cribs. All are deft musicians who make music that sound a lot like The Fairport Convention, a little bit like Jefferson Airplane, and a lot like the Mamas & The Papas. “Tie Up The Tides” will make you pine for spring when you are able to frolic in a dew-speckled meadow with your free-spirited friends that you met on Craigslist.
Tweens – “Be Mean”
The self-described “trash pop” trio from Cincinnati released one of the best rock songs of the year and it is about wanting the person you like to be more of a dickhead to you sometimes. Pushovers aren’t sexy! Boss-ass women with good voices and dyed-hair are! Heed Bridget Battle’s (best name) advice and be a little salty sometimes!