2014 may have been “The Year of the Butt Song,” but only one bona fide ass anthem hit #1. Otherwise, there was an eclectic mix of Canadian reggae, sentimental soul, and Taylor Swift. Was it all good? Not so much. Here are my rankings of all the songs that hit #1 on the Billboard charts in 2014…
10. “Fancy” - Iggy Azalea (feat. Charli XCX)
My brother described Iggy’s painfully exaggerated Southern-rap imitation as a “21st-century minstrel show,” which might be a bit hyperbolic, but … no, actually, that’s pretty spot on. While this may not be the worst Iggy song of 2014, this defaults into last place.
9. “Happy” - Pharrell Williams
Every person in 2014 had a moment when they declared this to be their jam! However, this inescapable ditty went from lovely and delightful to mosquito-in-the-ear obnoxious verrrrry quickly (yet somehow managed to stay #1 for 10 straight weeks … ugh).
8. “Rude” - Magic!
This song is bland on bland on bland, from the timid faux-reggae instrumentals to the old-timey lyrics about asking for your lady’s daddy’s blessing. Damn, why he “gotta be so rude?!”
7. “All of Me” - John Legend
Allow me to go sociologist on your ass, Mr. Legend. Enough with the songs about men telling their women that they are perfect just the way they are, in this weird possessive way. By celebrating women in this matter we inadvertedly objectify them, assuming women need the word of a man to determine their self-worth, and this word almost always solely revolves around the presentation of their bodies.
But whatever … this is a fine ballad.
6. “The Monster” - Eminem (feat. Rihanna)
This isn’t the best Eminem/Rihanna collaboration, but their star power alone must have carried this to #1, because this is an incredibly forgettable track with throw-away verses and a hook that isn’t as strong as it pretends to be.
5. “All About That Bass” - Meghan Trainor
This song is what would happen if Glenn Miller wrote a booty anthem, with its traditional, old-fashioned melodies and chord-progressions along with a ridiculous PG-euphimism for the butt (“bass” = “big fat ass”). But it’s still kind of fun.
4. “Dark Horse” - Katy Perry (feat. Juicy J)
It’s nice to see a track with some trap influence sneak into the #1 spot, and Katy Perry absolutely sells the only discernible hook here (“So you wanna play with magic / Boy you should know what you’re fighting for”) … though Juicy J’s cringe-inducing rap verse nearly brings the whole operation to a screeching halt.
3. “Timber” - Pitbull (feat. Ke$ha)
Pitbull is a mediocre rapper and an awful lyricist, but as an unapologetic, joyful dose of guilty-pleasure dance-pop, he strikes gold with “Timber.” And, of course, that Ke$ha hook is pretty damn fantastic.
2. “Shake It Off” - Taylor Swift
This isn’t the best track on 1989, but it is an insanely catchy, instantly relatable be-yourself anthem that demands to be boogied to. If this song comes on and you’re the only one busting a move, you’re surrounding by a pretty soulless bunch of folks.
1. “Blank Space” - Taylor Swift
If “Shake It Off” is the anthem, “Blank Space” is Taylor’s thesis statement — a middle-finger to everyone (especially that “long list of ex-lovers”) who dismisses her for the “insane” girl she’s become. But instead of relying on the trite sentiment that she can’t be tamed (which would just turn this into run-of-the-mill Avril Lavigne brat-pop), she actually invites us to her mad and wonderful party. Along with the instant-classic video, “Blank Space” is one of those pop songs that’s destined for timelessness.