EOTY WRAP UP: Top 20 Songs of 2014
Chris Malone, Avid Sound Staff Writer

As anyone and they’ll agree that 2014 was one of the weakest years for music in recent memory. Most of the music I added to my library this year was either average or old music (keyword: “most”).

A good number of songs stood out from the pack; here are my top 20 favorite songs of 2014, starting with 20.

20. ”After the Disco” by Broken Bells

A single off Broken Bells’ album of the same name, it’s easy to disregard “After the Disco” as a bland alternative rock attempt at chart success. But don’t be surprised if you find yourself humming the chorus more than once; it may not be a unique sound, but it can be hard to forget.

19. ”Summer” by Calvin Harris

Scottish producer Calvin Harris leads the pack of DJs who broke out of the EDM world and into mainstream consciousness, along with the likes of Zedd and David Guetta. Blending elements of pop and dance music, “Summer” was destined for success from its release. The song’s one weakness lies in its vocals, provided by Harris himself.

18. ”Lionhearted (feat. Urban Cone)” by Porter Robinson

It’s been a landmark year for Porter Robinson. His debut album Worlds marked his official departure from mainstream EDM culture; single “Lionhearted” stands out as the album’s poppiest (and easiest-to-like) track. Swedish indie pop band Urban Cone provides guest vocals, sounding eerily similar to bands like Passion Pit, mixed with Robinson’s synthpop twist.

17. ”Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj

2014 has undoubtedly been the year of the butt. Although Jennifer Lopez and Meghan Trainor released curve-loving songs of their own, it was Nicki Minaj’s sample of the 1992 hit “Baby Got Back” that quickly became the booty-flaunting anthem of the year. The single cover features Minaj crouching with her back to  the camera wearing nothing but a pink G-string; the music video was just as salacious. Media attention does not equal musical strength, however; the lyrics are lackluster and the song becomes no more than a simple shoutout to Sir Mix-a-Lot’s eternal love of the derrière.

16. ”i” by Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar shot to fame for his Compton-bred rhyming prowess, so it’s surprising to see him release an R&B outing like “i” as his upcoming album’s lead single. Sampling a 60s R&B song, “i” can be seen as Lamar’s demonstration of a budding talent in a different area of expertise. Hip hop embracing other genres is not a new concept, but it’s rare to see it from a hardcore Compton rapper like Lamar. If this single is representative of the album, blogs everywhere may soon be deeming him the male Janelle Monáe.

15. ”Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon

The standout hit off Walk the Moon’s sophomore effort Talking is Hard, “Shut Up and Dance” is an infectious pop rock earworm about being smitten by a girl and forgetting all of life’s troubles to have fun. It may be one of music’s most beaten to death clichés, but Walk the Moon’s take on it is one of the more admirable ones we’ve seen in a while. Good luck trying to stop singing it to yourself.

14. “Black Widow (feat. Rita Ora)” by Iggy Azalea

2014 was the year trap infiltrated mainstream music and ditched its old status as a niche genre; “Black Widow” may be the most popular example of this. The claps and steel drum  beat against Azalea’s faux AAVE twang and Ora’s chantlike chorus make for a surefire radio hit, despite lyrically being one of Azalea’s weaker entries. Another missed opportunity is Azalea not opting to sing the chorus herself; if “Change Your Life” showed us anything, it’s that it’s not impossible for Iggy Iggs to vocalize a little.

13. “Chasing Time” by Azealia Banks

In the years following her breakout hit “212”, Azealia Banks became more synonymous with public Twitter arguments than with her music, and it seemed like her long-awaited debut album Broke with Expensive Taste was no more than a pipe dream. “Chasing Time” serves as BWET’s standout single, showcasing her rhyming ability as well as some singing talent. It’s not spectacular, but one can’t expect most rappers to belt like Whitney Houston.

12. ”Bed of Lies (feat. Skylar Grey)” by Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj has repeatedly insisted that The Pinkprint is her most personal album yet, and if anything is representative of this, it’s the single “Bed of Lies”. Skylar Grey’s chorus is an absolute dream, and it’s refreshing to see Minaj’s private life—largely under wraps for many years—come to light in her verses. “Bed of Lies” succeeds as an era-defining song where “Pills N Potions” failed: an unforgettable chorus, a poppy beat, and a take-charge attitude.

11. ”L.A.LOVE” by Fergie

It’s been eight years since we’ve heard a solo outing from Black Eyed Peas frontwoman Fergie, so this love letter to her hometown was long overdue. Produced by the ubiquitous DJ Mustard, it starkly  contrasts her Dutchess material by blending elements of hip hop and pop; unfortunately, this leads to some uninspiring lyrics. In a music landscape dominated by a “Nicki vs. Iggy” debate, no one should underestimate Fergie’s rapping ability. She may just fly under the radar when her second solo album is released next year.

10. ”Chandelier” by Sia

Sia Furler is just as remarkable a singer as she is a songwriter. Her pop ballad “Chandelier”, off her latest album 1000 Forms of Fear, has been her most successful solo work to date, garnering platinum certification in numerous countries. What she may lack in vocal range she makes up in pure emotion; even though the song is about a life of debauchery, the words are far more powerful than songs like “We Can’t Stop”.

9. ”Four Door Aventador” by Nicki Minaj

They say things don’t really disappear, but merely reappear in a different  form. Many music blogs have rushed to christen “Four Door Aventador” as the best album cut on The Pinkprint, and with good reason: it very closely resembles the type of music on Minaj’s mixtapes, prior to mainstream success. Her Queens attitude coming to life through her words is what jettisoned her to fame in the first place, and “Four Door Aventador” serves as a reminder that Onika from the block is not dead, but rather working behind the scenes.

8. ”Feeling Myself (feat. Beyonce)” by Nicki Minaj

Following the success of the remix of “***Flawless”, people were eagerly awaiting the next Nicki and Bey collaboration that they were promised. Truth be told, Beyoncé’s chorus and bridges in “Feeling Myself” are nowhere near stellar— though hard to forget because they’re so repetitive. Minaj’s verses, however, save the song; they’re without a doubt some of her best to date (“Bitches ain’t got punchlines or flow / I have both and an empire also”). Because of its marketability as a radio hit, it’s no surprise that “Feeling Myself” has been announced as The Pinkprint’s next single.

7. ”Bang Bang” by Jessie J, Ariana Grande, & Nicki Minaj

Upon first listen, “Bang Bang” sounds like three different verses from three different genres by three different artists clumsily stitched together into one song. That ultimately proves to be its selling point: Jessie, Ariana, and Nicki each provide one verse that each represents them as an  artist. Jessie and Ari’s signature brands of pop shine through in their parts, while Nicki’s tendency to blend hip hop and pop is easily apparent in hers. With this kind of star power and catchy lyrics, the song was destined for popular success from the start.

6. ”FROOT” by Marina and the Diamonds

The first single off her upcoming third album of the same name, “FROOT” is Marina’s longest yet—a strength for some and a weakness for others. This psychedelic pop song is undeniably catchy from first listen, and its chorus is one of her best yet. Will “FROOT” be her best album to date? Only time will tell.

5. ”Rather Be (feat. Jess Glynne)” by Clean Bandit

Although Clean Bandit has been around for a few years, “Rather Be” is their mainstream breakthrough. The song captivates the listener with strains of violin and the ethereal voice of Jess Glynne, and is suitable for any type of listener. Watch out, Disclosure.

4. ”Only” Nicki Minaj, Drake, Lil Wayne, & Chris Brown

It’s THE hip hop collaboration of the year: Lil Wayne and his two Young Money protégés, Nicki Minaj and Drake, with a chorus provided by amateur pugilist Chris Brown. Each MC’s verse in “Only” begins with clarification that they did not sleep with each other, then continue talking about themselves and their success. Nicki and Drake’s parts make the song; Wayne’s part is particularly sleepy for someone who is known for performing with energy. “Only” is undeniably The Pinkprint’s best single.

3. ”2 On (fear. ScHoolboy Q)” by Tinashe

2014 has been kind to R&B newcomer Tinashe. At first, “2 On” seems like another mindless Mustard track about partying, but her debut album Aquarius proved that she has much more to offer, vocally rivaling the likes of Rihanna and Jhené Aiko. Even when bogged down by repetitive DJ Mustard trademarks and a verse by ScHoolboy Q, Tinashe’s potential shines through.

2. ”Uptown Funk (feat. Bruno Mars” by Mark Ronson

What would happen if the Motown sound came back to life today? Producer Mark Ronson set out to answer that question with “Uptown Funk”, with guest vocals by retro showman Bruno Mars. The song’s doo-wop bassline and  rock melodies against Mars’s transcendent voice come together to form one of the best revivals of Motown sound we’ve ever seen, with a bit of a 21st century electronic twist.

1. ”***Flawless (Remix)” by Beyoncé & Nicki Minaj

If Nicki Minaj’s verse on Kanye West’s “Monster” in 2010 was a declaration that rap’s new queen had arrived, her verse on the remix of Beyoncé’s token feminist anthem “***Flawless” is a confirmation of that position. Beyoncé’s admirable opening and an OutKast saxophone sample lead up to Minaj’s commanding rap, deemed by many to be her best verse since “Monster”. She covers everything, from her meteoric rise to success (“I know they hope I fall / But tell ‘em winnin’ is my motherfuckin’ protocol”) to her reign of the hip hop soundscape (“The queen of rap slayin’ with Queen Bey / If you ain’t on the team you playin’ for team D”), all with the Queens attitude we first fell in love with at the turn of the decade.

Do you feel like I’m missing something? Tweet me at @avdsnd and let us know what you thought about our end of the year lists - more to come!

EOTY WRAP UP: Top 20 Songs of 2014
Conor Soper, Avid Sound Staff Writer

As the year winds down, cue the countdown, Avid Sound creators and writers have been busy putting together our first ever year-end lists, including Top 20 Songs and Top 15 Albums of 2014.

Below, Avid Sound’s very own co-creator Conor Soper’s Top 20 Songs of 2014, these are the standalone tracks that made the best impression to him or changed the game in his eyes, starting from 20.

20. "Rather Be (feat. Jess Glynne)" by Clean Bandit

One of the most fun tracks released this year and a one that seemingly came out of nowhere. I remember being showed the song a week or two before it blew up and thinking nothing much of it. If this song teaches you anything, it’s to root for the underdogs.

19. "Silent Partner" by La Roux

Out of all the new tracks off La Roux’s sophomore LP, “Silent Partner” is the obvious standout. It’s a dazzling and daunting seven-minute jam session that shows the techno girl from the first record isn’t gone.

18. "Queen" by Perfume Genius

“Queen” is as mesmerizing as it is beautiful. It’s dark, it’s gay, it’s euphoric and everything that 2014 needed.

17. “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” by Against Me!

Laura Jane Grace makes clear the internal and external struggles of being transgender in a world that is largely transphobic and transmisogynistic. Those of us who are cisgendered will never quite understand her pain, but she makes us feel at least an ounce of what she has felt.

16. "2 On (feat. ScHoolBoy Q)" by Tinashe

The DJ Mustard produced “2 On” was one of the year’s top party songs and a breakout for one of the most promising artists out their. Tinashe’s soft vocals and minimal production give the song that chill party vibe every is looking for. Also, I’m partial to the Brooke Candy remix of the song.

15. "Hold On To Ya" by III Bones

Underdog of the year goes to this track. III Bones is a little-known group from Ocala, FL who make bluesy rock and soul-like songs. “Hold On To Ya” is the first single and studio recorded song from the band and if it’s any hint as to what’s coming on their debut album then the world better prepare for the next big thing.

14. "Alibi" by BANKS

Album opener for BANKS’ debut Goddess not only shows the singer’s vocal range, but her lyrical depth and booming production that all create her dark musical atmosphere.

13. "My Blue Supreme" by Interpol

Interpol’s new album showed they were finally able to make new and exciting music with a similar sound palette. “My Blue Supreme” dabbles in some of their finest past moments while simultaneously propelling the listener into new territory.

12. "Magic Mountain" by The Drums

With “Magic Mountain” The Drums have proved their staying power beyond their usual song dichotomy of devastating heartbreak tracks and upbeat summertime jams. It’s a weird song to say the least, but it’s power lies in its strangeness.

11. "Alone Again" by Betty Who

Although most know her for “High Society” and “Somebody Loves You,” there were some other gems on Betty Who’s debut, including “Alone Again.” The bubbling bassline, the glittering production, and popping drums matched with her vocals make the perfect 80s-inspired pop track.

10. "Froot" by Marina and the Diamonds

A late entry for 2014, but one of the top contenders for a good reason. Marina returns from her sophomore album with a new disco twist and a sound more similar to her debut album.

9. "Reservoir" by Metronomy

In an interview, Metronomy stated that they were afraid they were going to get too big after The English Riviera’s massive success, so they toned down their third album to prevent that. Luckily for us, some of that pop seeped into their third LP and translated into “Reservoir.”

8. "Fuck Texting" by Junglepussy

Junglepussy’s debut album, Satisfaction Guaranteed, went largely under the radar for most, I believe it’s because she only released her album through Soundcloud. Regardless, the whole thing was full of quality material, especially the brazen “Fuck Texting” calling ladies to arms to confront their man if they think he’s cheating.

7. "Prince Johnny" by St. Vincent

While St. Vincent’s strongest work usually lies in Annie Clark’s powerhouse guitar slashers, “Prince Johnny” carries a very ethereal weight that lures the listener in and makes one of the years most vulnerable and satisfying tracks.

6. "Two Weeks" by FKA Twigs

If “2 On” wasn’t sexy enough for you, then “Two Weeks” will fill the void. Twigs’ breathy vocals and seductive lyricism over a sensual beat will get anyone in the mood.

5. "Chandelier" by Sia

“Chandelier” is easily the powerhouse hit of the year. If you haven’t found yourself attempting to scream the lyrics over Sia while driving and almost flipping your car, then you haven’t lived.

4. "Walk This Way" by MØ

MØ has the formula for making some of the catchiest songs out there and if you want the secret, “Walk This Way” is a good microcosm for her criminally overlooked debut album.

3. "Strip" by Jessie J

“Strip” should have been Jessie J’s lead single or at least a follow-up for her latest underwhelming Sweet Talker. Instead she went for the easy hit “ Bang Bang” with two hype artists, then “Burnin’ Up” with the obligatory rap feature, and most recently for the wannabe heartfelt “Masterpiece.” “Strip” was somehow relegated to the realm of bonus tracks and will likely never see the light of day as a single where it belongs.

2. "Catch" by Allie X

If you’re one of those people who likes to brag about knowing an artist before they get huge, then get listening to Allie X. The pop star in the making has turned down a number of record deals in favor of doing her own thing, which has produced three top notch singles, of which “Catch” is the best.

1. "Love In High Places" by Kimbra

“Abandon” was a word used a lot by Kimbra when discussing this track and her sophomore album The Golden Echo. You can feel that when listening to the barren landscapes of “Love in High Place” that Kimbra fills with forests, rivers, and everything in between. “Love in High Places” is a sonic landscape like no other and some of Kimbra’s most thoughtful work yet.

Did any of your favorites make it?! Let us know on Twitter at @avdsnd


"I'm so happy right now! This is thanks to all the fans who filled up those stadiums and arenas all over the world this year. THANK YOU so much. This is amazing, oh my Gosh. One of my favorite things about this year is the camaraderie between all these artists that I just make a phone call and I say like 'hey, you wanna come and sing with me' and there were a lot of artists who showed up just at the goodness of their heart and came out and performed for the fans at my shows and I'd like to thank those artists, and I need to remember all of them... Thank you for coming out and playing for my fans... You have made my year, thank you so much!"


"Automatic" is now on Youtube and Vevo.

March 25, 2014

2014 ACM Awards Entertainer of the Year – Why Taylor Swift Should Win

Taylor Swift is a two-time ACM Entertainer of the Year winner, though her streak was snapped by Luke Bryan last year. Her campaign for the award in 2014 will mostly depend on her outstanding touring successes. Swift not only brings the fans in, but she over-delivers.
No one pays as much attention to lighting, costumes, choreography and
staging as Swift. Her show is a theatrical production, with more outfit changes than ballads. She never has an off night and never fails to give fans additional surprises, like a cameo from Jennifer Lopez or Carly Simon.

If that’s what defines Entertainer of the Year, then give this girl the award right now, because no one in country music puts on a better show for their fans. Swift may have spent more time on pop radio than country radio in 2013 — and at first, that seems like it’d hurt her chances — until one factors in the new voters she’s pulling in from other genres who would otherwise sit this out.

Swift is never out of contention for Entertainer of the Year, or any
fan-voted award. 

The Music: The title track from Swift’s most recent album was her
biggest country radio hit in 2013, but she scored multiple hits on pop radio and was part of the year’s top collaboration in ‘Highway Don’t Care’ with Tim McGraw. In comparison to other years, this was a quieter campaign for the 24-year-old singer.

The Tour: Swift is becoming like Kenny Chesney in
that her touring success is taken for granted. The superstar still sells out
shows quicker than anyone in the format, and her schedule is relentless.
Frequently, she sells out multiple shows in the same city, packing in
high-profile celebs who fill the seats or take the stage with her. The show is an event.

The Intangibles: When Taylor Swift’s name is in the news for
something other than her music, it’s usually a dating rumor. They say any
publicity is good publicity, but it’s not clear if just being “out there” will
translate to votes. Off stage, Swift lives a fairly quiet life, but it’s
amplified by the media.

Taste of Country