Serg Beret’s 20 Best Songs of 2014 Pt. 2: 10 – 1

No time to waste on an introduction, let’s just get on to the second part of the list. For the first part, that is located at this link: 20 Best Songs of 2014 Pt. 1.

10. “Love Me Harder” by Ariana Grande ft. The Weeknd

Ariana Grande has become quite the horrible diva stereotype in the past year as the rumors and truths about how she is came to light. Personally, I find her quite repulsive now, but this song is pretty great. Combined with her breathy vovcals and a beat reminiscent of Lady Gaga’s hit song of last year “Do What You Want,” Grande gives her best work on the track that does have quite the cliched lyrics. Why is it so high up? Because a man called The Weeknd saved it from becoming a complete failure with his smooth vocals. He even gives a complexity to his part as the man questioning what happen if his love isn’t good enough. It lifts the song from mediocrity to nearly great. It’s a great track with a great saving throw. Now, Ariana Grande, go away.

9. “Happy” by Pharrell

This song has been everywhere this year that most forget that it was from 2013’s Despicable Me 2. The Minions are even in the video for good measure. It may have gotten overplayed and annoying at points, but it is damn fun and catchy as heck. Pharrell  blends hip-hop and soul to make a wonderful combination of a song. The whole soundtrack of Despicable Me and its sequel had input from Pharrell making unique tracks for the film that captured its overall feel. Williams gives heart and soul to the films, and lucky for us, he decided to share it. Pharrell was nominated for an Oscar for this track and it shows off what he can do. I always admired Pharrell’s work, be it producing with The Neptunes, in N.E.R.D. or hanging with Daft Punk, and he is pure genius.

8. “Back to the Shack” by Weezer

Speaking of genius, River Coumo and the boys of Weezer are back to kick some ass once again. Weezer is one of my all-time favorite bands that have taken pop-rock and garage sounds to a new level. In “Back to the Shack,” the boys give up trying to appeal to the masses to return to their Blue Album roots. Brian Bell kicks ass again on guitar with Cuomo practically apologizing for what happened with the last records. It echoes the classic garage style with thumping chords by Bell and Cuomo. Weezer has had up and downs in the past trying to remain relevant in a day where rock is going in an indie-pop direction. Luckily, Weezer finally found out what worked and are sticking to it. Thanks for going back to the shack.

7. “i” by Kendrick Lamar

This list marks the third time Kendrick Lamar has been on this list. Lamar is currently one of the best rappers in the game alongside Childish Gambino, Schoolboy Q and Future. This time around, Lamar brings out a funky as hell sound in “i.” Lamara samples the Isley Brothers “That Lady” to give a message about how the ghetto is portrayed with the world going to crap. Yet, all that’s left in the end is yourself and that is the most important to focus on. Lamar kicks major ass on this track with a neat breakdown leading to the terrific verse about how he has the world. It’s the perfect rap tun that cements that rap is making a more realistic comeback than before. Lamar is still kicking ass for another year. Let’s hope we don’t let him go to waste this time.

6. “I’m Not the Only One” by Sam Smith

In part one of the list, I mentioned we would get to Sam Smith. SMith blew away everyone this year with his melancholic soul sound captivating the US. Smith has had quite the year with his hit song “Stay With Me” being the favorite of many a listener. To me, “I’m Not the Only One” beats it by a good margin. Smith sings about an unfaithful lover knowing that they have wronged him. As the song goes on, Smith starts detailing how he knows while knowing he could never save his lover. The accompaniment of strings and a mellow drum beat bring Smith to the forefront of the male pop singers. Smith is barely making his impact and presence known. Smith is pure gold.

5. “Tennis Court” by Lorde

The video to this song is uncomfortable. Now with that established, Lorde is a major game changer in pop music. This year is dipping in to, pardon my language, pure cosmic shit, but Lorde rises above them by showing how badass she is. On “Tennis Court,” Lorde is accompanied with a John Carpenter-like hip-hop sound like nothing ever heard before. She’s examining the typical life of a couple in high school with amazing vocals in a blend that puts Lana Del Rey to shame. Lorde is a new favorite of mine whose album, Pure Heroine, is still playing on my iPod. She’s young, hip and weird to say the least and that makes her standout. Lorde is truly here to save us.

4. “Boom Clap” by Charli XCX

Not one, but both singles from The Fault in the Stars made it on the list this year. The woman who saved “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea and Icona Pop’s “I Don’t Care” gets a kickass single of her own to show off her chops. The song is a modern love song that captures the feeling of love. It’s vibrant, beautiful and even has a stunning breakdown section from time to time. Charli XCX’s voice works for this tune with thrilling highs and fantastic lows. Even better, Hilary Duff rejected this as she said it “wasn’t for her.” She is sure regretting it now as the song is simply a joy to listen to with Charli XCX making gold out of it. Hopefully, she sticks around longer thanks to her solo album Sucker being released to keep the pop world on a roll.

3. “Love Never Felt So Good” by Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson is the King of Pop. No one can ever take that away from him and no one ever will. Though originally released with the remixed version featuring Justin Timberlake, this version with Michael by himself is pure brilliance. It’s a throwback to the dance-hall style found on Off the Wall with JAckson singing about being, well, in love. It’s simple, straight to the point and poignant. Jackson wrote the tune alongside legend Paul Anka back in 1982. It was discovered as a demo years later to be reworked. The reworked version here is pure brilliance. Jackson was pure magic in his works who was always trying to entertained. The King of Pop may be gone, but his presence is still felt n this beautiful tune. It’s nothing but magic.

2. “Ain’t It Fun” by Paramore

Paramore has been a band I loved since high school. My sister got me into them back in those days and have remained a part of my collection of bands I love listening to. “Ain’t It Fun” proves Paramore has staying power with a funktastic tune that is bombastic and vibrant. Hayley Williams lays down her best vocal work that rivals “Still Into You” off the same album. She’s just been perfect since Paramore started. The song is an anthem for anyone entering the adult stage of their laugh or entering reality for the first time. This song has been on rotation personally for me this past year and I can’t wait to go kick some ass in the real world. Paramore is certainly here to stay in this new reality and I hope they stick around for a couple years more.

Before we get to number one, some honorable mentions must be made in order to honor those songs that deserve some time in the spotlight.

Honorable Mentions:

And now, number one…

1. “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift

It took a good four years of writing these lists for Taylor Swift, out of everyone, to finally reach number one. Her album 1989 is a fantastic pop record filled with a handful of songs that could easily have taken this spot, but “Blank Space” was set in stone before even writing this list as number one. Swift has went from being a good-two shoe country darling to testing the waters between balancing country and pop to now becoming one of the top pop acts in the world. 2014 was Swift’s year to kick some major ass. On this track, Swift finally addresses the rumors and truths of past relationships by being charming to date and slowly revealing that she might not be the best choice for someone to be with. She also uncovers that even if the person leaves, a new person will come along so it doesn’t matter. That’s pretty badass for her to straight up say. The song also seems to taken inspiration from Lorde’s hip-hop blend of sounds while adding an extra layer of bombast and choirs to blow everyone out of the water. “Black Space” is the best song of 2014 coming out by the end and dominating the sourness of music that plagued the landscape this year. Swift is number one for 2014.