Archives for posts with tag: best songs of the year


By James Pavel 

20. Fever – The Black Keys

They are the definition of commercial success. Not since Moby has an artist been featured so prominently in the repetitive interruptions between our favourite TV shows. It is the greatest case of “selling out” if that term still held any significance. Bands, just like mom and pop, work to make money and since album sales generate roughly the same amount as the cost of a lawn mower, bands like the Keys have evolved and in their case, prevailed with finding new avenues for their marketable medleys.

The Black Keys are an excellent band that seem to have no problem being liked by as many people as possible. Staying true to your fans is overrated, especially considering how much music your supposed die-hard audiences are inundated with.One minute they are rocking a “The Black Keys are my brother” t-shirt and next week they’ve devoted themselves to Jack White’s seven nation army.

The Black Keys have a fever, and they don’t care how many people they infect.

19. Brother – Gerard Way

His band, My Chemical Romance, the godfathers of modern-day emo music, did a lot more for the past decade than anybody will ever admit. The dark and the gothic will always require a map and MCR was more than welcome to serve as the compass.

No, they were not as sinister as Marilyn Manson or Rob Zombie, but they made up for it with dare we say, much more relatable music. The cornerstone and literal poster boy was of course the MCR genius, Gerard Way. So here he is, releasing a solo album that almost nobody even pretended to give a fair listen.

18. Jealous – Nick Jonas

It only took Bieber fever to knock the entire trio of Jonas brothers off their pop throne, but does it not seem that the Jonas family tree may get the last laugh? Bieber, who has an incredibly hollow discography for someone so immensely popular, seems on a path to mayhem while the most talented Jonas is having a real go at providing a fresh face in the male pop department. Jonas sounds like what Prince would sound like if he remembered how to make catchy pop hooks, with a bit of Justin Timberlake’s future, sex, love-funk garnished heavily from start to fin.

17. It’s Alright Now – Bombay Bicycle Club

For a brief minute, we thought they could be the next Coldplay, but they’ve instead completed a U-turn towards a destination unknown and the view is surprisingly pleasant. They are somewhat a U.K-version of Vampire Weekend, meaning they are a hipster’s dream, sliced with enough different cultures to host a United Nations pow-wow.

Their new album is unmistakably weird, perhaps to a fault. They forged so many tranquil rock antidotes on their breakthrough album, So long, see you tomorrow, that we were expecting their version of Viva la Vida and death to all his friends to follow suite.

Instead we got an album more on par with MGMT’s psychedelic experiments of late that will leave fans either musically challenged or defiantly bored.

16. Seasons (Waiting on You) – Future Islands

The lead singer is blessed with the voice of a draconian monster, but thankfully he has put his demonic syntax to good use. He sings about the seasons changing, but blissfully that is where the banal humdrum ceases and the synth-funk takes over.

15. Style – Taylor Swift

Although her country twang will never quite abandon her enunciation abilities, she has surrendered her cowboy boots and Levis’ with this latest offering. It should be more of a difficult transition except Swift barely broke a sweat when she tore the queen of pop throne off Katy Perry’s brunette main. Of course, she never meant to do it, as nobody pretends to be more innocent and care more about everyone else than Swift does. She is the first to claim to be Ed Sheran’s biggest fan or applaud Rihanna for behaving like a hungry porn star at the MTV Awards, but sometimes it seems like she might not be faking it. Is she actually this kind? Is that even allowed in 2014? Maybe that’s the idea behind her album being titled 1989 – she has recognized that nobody could get away with her actions in today’s sick, twisted, Kardashian worshipping world.

14.  Blame – Calvin Harris feat. John Newman

This generation could look back at this unnamed decade and potentially declare it as the period where electronic dance music completely ran the radio and music festival circuit. Nobody has played a more pivotal role in this EDM reign than the great Scot, Calvin Harris. In 2014, he challenged human intelligence by releasing a song called “Summer” in the summer with all of the sounds one would expect in the summer.

It was one of the most offensive attempts at solidifying a sure thing, and thankfully the world responded with an indifferent shoulder shrug. He came back with an actual song this time, called “Blame,” where a person points the finger at alcohol, seductive women and everyone besides the mirror for his inability to keep his trousers on.

13. Give me Something Good – Ryan Adams

He’s what Ben Gibbard should look like after Zooey Deschanel kicked him to the curb. He’s also what Gibbard would sound like if he rolled around the mud, shot Jack Daniels and loved jamming out to Tom Petty. This is the most classic-sounding song of the entire year. If this was 30 years ago, this would be a song that we would still be singing right now when your parents went out of town. Now will we be singing this in 2044 on planet 3C0D8T? Probably not. But can we sing it for the next few years before all hell reigns down? Absolutely.

12. Feel the Effect – Tokyo Police Club

It’s their worst album carrying maybe their best song. “Feel the Effect” has universal synth brilliance, meaning that you could sing anything to it and it will still sound tip-top which is actually what the whitest people claiming to work in the Tokyo police force manage to do. “I’ve got a friend with a limo,” and other nonsensical lyrics accompany this perfectly-arranged pop-rock, bubble bath wave of pleasure.

11. Best Friend – Foster the People

Can anyone host a party better than Mark Foster and his peeps? They crowd-please with the same precision as puppies and new born babies, except they make everyone want to dance and shout, old people included. This song is about your drug addict friend that you predominantly want to abandon, but you still find yourself saving room for him or her in your wedding party.

10. Alex – Nicky Blitz

Jenny, Mandy, and now finally Alex, that stunning dame, finally has a song to call her own. What is wonderful about Nicky Blitz’s single, a song that has crystal meth-like addiction rates, is that Alex can be the name of a boy or a girl, meaning twice as many people can hear this song screamed to them until the end of time. Aleeeeeeeeeex…why? Because you gave me yooo’ number.

9. Not Such a Bad Thing – Justin Timberlake

Leave it to JT to recognize that instead of saturating the radio with a lethargic EDM fist-pumper, he releases a throwback to the N Sync*/BSB domination days, where falling in love to pop songs happened every other music video. He hasn’t forgotten his roots, except maybe the macaroni curls and full-piece denim suits. He is a mainstay on late night television and sometimes stars in the year’s biggest films but this hasn’t stopped him from writing songs about everyday implications that “Not Such a Bad Thing” discusses.

8. West Coast – Lana Del Rey

This is what sex and violence sound like. Del Rey is brake-slamming beautiful, but she’d rather be the girl smoking cigarettes on the back of a Harley than settle for being crowned pageant beauty queen. In regards to her track “West Coast,” has anybody sounded more rebellious singing about the west side since Tupac? No she isn’t contorting her fingers into a W or plotting a stomach-wide Thug Life tattoo, but she certainly possesses the same level of crazy that made Pac so lionized. Now am I saying Del Rey is the new Tupac? Of course not. But is she what Marilyn Monroe would have sounded like if she was open about her drug use, her man-eating and feeling half-insane 24/7? Potentially.

7. Copper Thief – Case Conrad

Stealing copper is a crisis Alberta electricians can easily relate to. Every month, pounds upon pounds of copper are stolen from job sites and exchanged for money or used illegally on other job sites. Case Conrad is not from Alberta nor is he an electrician and is likely not singing about the plight of electricians across western Canada, but he has potentially and unintentionally released an anthem for journeymen and women across the great white north to use in informational campaigns. Oh did I mention this is a fantastic track?

6. Song for Someone – U2

It’s four decades of gaining, losing and then attempting to retain rock n roll glory. U2 was the most criticized band of the year and had their latest offering, Songs of Innocence written off by smug iPhone users before the album was even allowed one listen. What a world we live in that individuals freely post pictures of themselves half-naked and list their most in-depth thoughts for hundreds to view, yet when one of the most celebrated bands of all time give them an album for zero dollars, people are up in arms over privacy issues. This is one of U2’s most complete albums not just of the past ten years, but of their entire career. It’s all killer and no filler, with “Song for Someone” being one of five or six standouts. It’s combines all the elements that make a U2 song a spiritual journey. Bono’s swooning and soul-searching, Edge’s piercing axe and lyrics that manage to include the whole world.

5. Midnight – Coldplay

Crisis fell upon Coldplay in 2014. Songs about yellow, Charlie Brown and skies full of stars could not save the nicest guys in rock n’ roll from their first public fluster with controversy. Chris Martin’s divorce from Gwenyth Paltrow was boring and lacked the drama the tabloids yearned for, but it allowed Coldplay to finally sing about true pain or as one of their best tracks on their album Ghost Stories was called, “True Love.” But the real battle cry, the howl of pain that we needed to hear came via “Midnight,” Coldplay’s paralyzingly-dark, moonlight meditation.

4. Blue Moon – Beck

The hipster godfather that no one would ever admit relation to (that is the hipster way) has managed to take on a whole new context of music without any real transition period. “Blue Moon” is a request for company, a plea for someone to join Beck at his lonesome tea party under the dark skies.

3. XO – Beyonce

Bae isn’t just a cheerleader of love, but one of its glowing champions. She isn’t done shaking her booty or boasting her independence. No, she remains as strong as a prized ox, and doesn’t shy away from allowing herself to become completely consumed with pure and unfiltered hugs and kisses. She demands relentless and pertinacious affection till the lights go out and anything less will not satisfy the Queen bumble B.

2. Chasing the Light – Sam Roberts

Teeny boppers may remember 2014 as the year of Sam Harris and not Roberts, but for the rock n’ roll loyal, it should be reviewed as the year Sam Roberts took his sound to expansive and profound new depths. When Sam chases the hot, fizzy flow, he chooses to open with a spiralling synth before drums hammer down like hot lightning reigning down over a summer village. “Chasing the Light” is about turning dreams into reality, without forgetting who and what made those dreams possible.

1. Bullshit Ballad – Kevin Drew 

He heard your guilt-loaded lies on the radio, and Drew wasn’t buying the goods. He knows your words are intended to sound sincere, that they are supposed to coerce him to view kindred pleas as peace offerings, but K-Drew instead rips up today’s radio love letters like Simon Cowell waking up on the wrong side of the hay. He torches the transparently vague and contrived pseudo-love songs with his compelling and vigorous roar, spliced with a turbulent and majestic guitar spot that blasts away the fake and makes room for only the realest in 2014.

By Séamus Smyth

 20. Myth – Beach House

Angel sirens race down Beach House Road like slow-motion fire trucks arriving to save the day. Victoria LeGrand sounds like MGMT’s reflective younger sister, a woman with the insight of one of Greek’s mythological legends who with every song shares a passage of brilliance.

19. Breakers – Local Natives

A guitar walks a precarious tight rope descending into a blanket of “oo’s” held open by a local band of do-gooders. Local Natives know how to treat thy neighbour, and that’s by pouring them a hot chocolate of musical goodness before the cold introduction of the 2012 winter.

18. Northern Lights – Kate Boy

One of the funkiest grooves of 2012 didn’t come from any of the leading women of the pop world i.e. Ke$ha, Lady Gaga or ‘train wreck’ Britney Spears, but was Kate Boy, who smashes keyboard keys while the Northern Lights perform an array of dances in the beautiful darkness.

17. I Will Wait– Mumford and Sons

It’s romantic-comedy music at its best, which isn’t saying a lot. Mumford and Sons play a number of instruments that unfortunately at times includes the cheese grader, but “I Will Wait,” is sheer sincerity. It’s make-out music for the Irish pubs, a worthy guest to accompany U2 in the late hours of Guinness pints and Jameson whiskey shooters.

16. Creepers – Cruel Summer (Kid Cudi)

Kid Cudi may be the most approachable rapper in the game today. His problems expand beyond the ones that have typically weighed heavily on the shoulders of rhyme-slingers, and the honesty makes the rest of rap music sound stuck in 2005. Cudi is leading the 2012 hip-hop makeover because musical boundaries, and more importantly, cultural boundaries, continue to go the way of the Berlin wall.

15. The Only Place – Best Coast

They are as endearing as any band that waves the California flag proudly as they once again rub it in our faces that California is the best place on the planet. It has Disneyland, Hollywood and it should probably start bragging about a little duo by the name of Best Coast. “We’ve got the oceans, we’ve got the waves” sounds like a million places, but for some reason the California coast is the only image that appears in the listener’s peripheral.

14. Diamonds remix – Rihanna feat. Kanye West

Kanye West proves why he is the worst guest to possibly bring to a party as he once again hogs all of the attention at a friend’s fiesta. Rihanna carves out a pretty song, but Yeezy makes this diamond shine. “Whips with the drop off outside of the Louvre,” shows that Yeezy only gets richer, vainer, and impossibly, better.

13. Hold on when you get Love – STARS

The juxtaposition between male and female voices that STARS provides is one of the sweetest constant transitions of any emerging group. The only feature frustrating about STARS is that they are criminally under-rated.

12. Breathing Underwater – Metric

“Breathing Water” solidifies the call for Emily Haines to be knighted as the Queen of synth. The showers of fluorescent keyboards spray down like the perfect-pressure of streaming water. Although the H2O isn’t overwhelming for us, Haines is struggling to catch air. They are no longer just Canadian darlings, but Metric are leaders of the entire modern-rock sound.

11. All Your Gold – Bat for Lashes

Natasha Khan is definitely not a pirate, but she reports having a treasure chest of gold stolen in 2012’s most entertaining victim report. She is literally robbed naked, (she is in the buck on the album cover) and yet this vulnerability doesn’t serve as a distraction but instead as one of the most artistic expressions of freedom of any genre of 2012.

10. Hold On – The Alabama Shakes

Jack White went down to Alabama and drank so much that the next morning he had the alcoholic shakes. It has a “Down on the Corner,” feel to it, but these Southern pan-handlers are ten times more aggressive. It’s bluesy, but of the North Carolina shade; it’s heart-moving, but at a safe and pleasurable pace.

9. Locked out of Heaven – Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars hasn’t just been listening to the Police, but sounds as though he was locked in Sting’s paddy wagon while given a tour of the 80’s megastars’ greatest hits. Mars exudes shameless pop, but every now and then he delivers riveting inspiration for the masses. Mars might be a tad hyperbolic when he claims to be locked out of heaven, but when you are primarily catering to people who strictly want to have fun, sometimes the grander the statement the better.

8. The House that Heaven Built – Japandroids

Never have the gates of heaven been rattled so violently. No genre has sold their soul to the devil more often than punk rockers and it was about time that a punk-sounding group finally veered towards the sky rather than buying property in hell. It may not be quite their cup of tea, but rumour has it that Moses and Jesus have both been caught whistling this ditty on more than one occasion.

7. Ho Hey – The Lumineers

It’s a little too Timon and Pumba for my liking, but the Lumineers version of “Hakuna Matata” was an inescapable wall of sound in the pseudo-apocalyptic year of 2012. It has the lyrics that any drunkard could sing along to, making it a solid acquisition to the campfire soundtrack.

6. Runaways – The Killers

The world didn’t need a memo to remember why the Killers were so important the moment Dave Kneuning strums the first chords of the boldest rock anthem of 2012 in “Runaways.” It’s a wild ambition that many in the world have forgotten can still exist, as the Killers soar for greatness and hope their loyal fan base will catch them if they fall. So much focus is placed on lead singer Brandon Flowers’ religion and past conflicts with other groups and yet such little is actually written about the magnitude of power that his voice carries. There is simply no lead singer in the world at this moment that would challenge Flowers to a sing-off as his voice could power the western hemisphere for a day without a volt of electricity required.

5. Steve McQueen – M83

M83 magic explodes like wild confetti as they appease almost every natural human sense in “Steve McQueen.”  The tribute title to the past icon produces wild colours of fantasy, and a taste of unrestrained ambition that just wasn’t heard enough in 2012.

4. Little Black Submarines – The Black Keys

“A broken heart is blind” – A classic metaphor revamped for this decade’s jaded and disillusioned was a true rock fan’s song that managed to seduce the radio like a red dress at a dive bar.

3. Madness – Muse

Bono must have been “numb” with flattery when he first heard Muse’s ode to the mentally insane. “Madness” sounds like a bonus track off of U2’s classic “Achtung Baby,” until the guitar solo/scream of a lifetime makes this sound like a modern—day smash and not a 90’s rip-off. Muse are desperate to play in space, a feat no other band has even acknowledged as appealing, so if anyone knows about madness, it’s definitely these Brits.

2. Five Seconds – Twin Shadow

Twin Shadow was 2012’s most impressive locksmith, unlocking doorways, passages and sacred hearts and all in the matter of seconds; five seconds to be exact. He doesn’t cut corners, but aims for the main artery, “straight for the heart”, and does our beating love-thermometers justice.

1. Take A Walk – Passion Pit

Who would have thought Passion Pit would write one of the most reflective and candid songs about the harsh economic times that defined the USA of 2012? A band whose prior topics of choice were twinkly stars and exchanging phone numbers, Passion Pit loaded up on growth hormone and in turn delivered a shot of inspiration to the country that matters most to them.  “Take a Walk” could be interpreted as taking a stand against the corruption that has infiltrated the American Dream and is a suggestion that we all take a walk to relieve the anguish of what has been undoubtedly one of the most collectively stressful years in recent memory.