the interns' Top 30 Songs of 2014


The year's top tracks according to us and why we think they topped the class in 2014.

[one_half_last]If 2014 was all about the bum, then this is its theme song. At first listen, this song was a joke to many. A cheap rip-off of Sir Mix A Lot's Baby Got Back, the track seemed nothing more than a publicity stint, to spruik Nicki Minaj’s third album following a lacklustre first single, Pills N Potions. However, Minaj worked it and the song eventually ate up radio and TV. And for good reason. Minaj is utterly fierce throughout the whole track, also commanding when she performed it live. No other artist today could’ve pulled off this track and got it onto radio. Find me one other track on radio this year that sounds like Anaconda.[/one_half_last]


[one_half_last]In the Summer of 2012, an up and coming rapper named Azealia Banks dropped a track called 212 and made her way to the top of every 'cool list'. Las Vegas artist, Shamir, doesn’t have that same brattiness to him but what he lacks in ferocity he makes up for in sass. On The Regular is cool. It’s incredibly cool. It sits somewhere between singing and rap with words that flow out of him unconsciously. It’s an anthem that introduces him as an outsider without any cliche ‘take me as I am’ notions. This is Shamir on the regular, just so you know.[/one_half_last]

[one_half_last]Take the BANKS album as an entire dosage and you’ll be thrown into a world of hefty darkness. Take it in little bites and it’s some of the sweetest pop made all year. Beggin’ For Thread is the highlight- a track dropped right before the album was released and one that is the centrepiece of the record. It combines all BANKS’ strengths into four minutes. From the RnB tinges, to the dark brooding voice to power-backed bridges. The final minute is a climatic showcase of melodic perfection- finally giving the song itself some thread.[/one_half_last]

[one_half_last]Girls won 2014, let’s be honest. FKA Twigs schooled everyone, Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande and Jessie J came together for a world-dominating anthem and even Pharrell tipped his large hat to GIRLS. The coolest girl-power anthem of the year came courtesy of two tipsy Scandinavians. One More is a warm, after-dark track about clutching at that one person to stay and enjoy the little moments of the early morning. Elliphant and make a heart-warming pair both in the song and the video. They cavort the streets, peeing in gutters and working their light-up slides, but at all times seeming totally enamoured by their friendship. The final moment where the girls yell the chorus back at each other is one of the best pop moments of the year.[/one_half_last]

[one_half_last]Tkay Maidza is something new for Australia. We have hip-hop, yes, but it’s always been shut-off from any international influence. It probably wasn’t the hip-hop influence that ensured Tkay sounded ready for the world stage in 2014, it was her willingness to experiment with Australian electronica. Australian electronica has been competing on the world stage for the better part of a year now and Maidza capitalised on that. Switch Lanes produced by Paces is the type of song that Angel Haze or Azealia Banks would kill for.[/one_half_last]

[one_half_last]Jamaican dancehall artist, Popcaan’s debut album Where We Come From is one of the most consistent records of the year. On that album is this gem, Number One Freak- a song so goddam rhythmic it could have even those with steel hips wiggling. Everyone knows love found on the dancefloor (or in a hopeless place) is the strongest love of all and Popcaan capitalises on that. “Some girls say she bad but me know shes badder”, he sings, creating a sweltering atmosphere that breathes heat (body heat, that is).[/one_half_last]

[one_half_last]CHVRCHES may not have had an album this year but it didn’t stop them from releasing a handful of excellent songs. This one’s from the rework of the Drive soundtrack. And while the concept may be slightly confusing, this song makes it all worthwhile. CHVRCHES adopt that dimly-lit, luminescent feel that Drive conveys and add a sweetness to it. Lauren Mayberry singing “never let you get away”, is one of the more heartwarming things we’ve heard all year. Particularly from someone who was last year singing, “I’ll be a gun, and it’s you I’ll come for”.[/one_half_last]

[one_half_last]Perfume Genius has always been a profound songwriter but until this year he hadn’t really ventured far afield, instrumentally. Grid throbs with a relentless synth, turning like an industrial fan. It gives Mike Hadreas’ voice a bolstered power when he sings something like “this is it”. The kids voices that come in then start to play with your find as if you are being surrounded by chanting children yourself. It’s a dizzying listen but an amazing one, if you consider he achieves this feeling in under three minutes.[/one_half_last]

[one_half_last]An Azealia Banks comeback in 2014 seemed very unlikely. For an artist who’s been a storm for most of her career, she’d gone awfully quiet for a while with barely a feud in sight. It seems it was the calm before the storm. In the second half of 2014, she delivered, Chasing Time- a track supposedly written to prove to her previous label Universal that she could write a hit. And what a hit it is. Chasing Time sees Banks both sing and rap over a schizophrenic beat that pops and bubbles. The song would be nothing without its richly melodic chorus which combines a Prodigy-esque strength with late ‘90s RnB.[/one_half_last]

[one_half_last]Kimbra has always been an interesting character but after seeing her live for the first time in 2012, it was immediately apparent that her debut Vows was merely scraping the surface of what she could do. It seems, in 2014, she realised her true potential and embraced her creative oddities. To say ‘90s Music was a shock, is an understatement. An artist like Kimbra could have easily ventured into the realms of adult contemporary but instead she delivered this chopped-up, candy-cane flavoured, beautiful mess with a chorus that soared into the stratosphere. It’s nostalgic while also being futuristic aka. a pop music triumph. [/one_half_last]



[one_half_last]Future Classic have had a big year with the success of Chet Faker but they had one little secret locked away. One that will probably eclipse the success of any artist on the Future Classic label yet. That secret was Australian songstress, George Maple, who’s spent the better part of her career carving away in London. They unleashed Maple with little fanfare, rather letting the strength of Talk Talk talk for itself. And that it did. The song has so far amassed over 2 million listens on Soundcloud and brought a sophistication to Australian pop music that we haven’t seen for a long time, if ever. Talk Talk is a romantic, hushed song with a tempo that just allows it to creep under your skin.[/one_half_last]

[one_half_last]There’s something horribly disappointing about Paris. It’s perhaps one of the most romanticised cities in the world and yet under the surface it’s a cesspool of pretentiousness, crime and grime. The Paris that Little Dragon sing about is not a city of love, it’s one of heartache. Someone’s left Yukimi Nagano in Paris and she’s alone. The song’s warm synths and hopping beat may be deceiving but the sadness in Nagano’s paper thin voice says it all. There’s a craft in writing a sad song without being melodramatic and it’s one Little Dragon have mastered expertly. [/one_half_last]

[one_half_last]There’s something wonderful obvious about this whole PC Music sound. Since its inception last year, the genre has been endlessly compared to sugar. From bubblegum synths to popping rocks percussion, even QT has taken on the metaphor producing her own energy drink. SOPHIE was just as obvious in dropping a song titled Lemonade, which sounds appropriately like a sugary, carbonated glass of lemonade. It borrows elements of hip-hop and short bursts of ‘90s rave for just under two minutes of euphoria. Such is the high of sugar. It picks you up quickly and then dumps you in a quivering heap but in the end it’s all worth it.[/one_half_last]

[one_half_last]There’s a certain feeling about walking into a club in New York. Whether you know it or not, you adopt a strut, subconsciously aware of everybody in the club eyeing you off. As a native New Yorker, Theophilus London captures that feeling perfectly on Tribe. It’s gone that clean, New York beat that paces along with an unmatched swagger. He’s scouting the room, picking up every situation around him while also acutely aware of his own appearance. He raps a line like “Girl in the blue dress look like a winner/Caught my eye in the back of the mirror” and then hops on the MDMA for a night that rushes with drug-fused love that will fade in the morning.[/one_half_last]

[one_half_last]Annie Clarke aka. St. Vincent wanted to make a party record that people could dance to at a funeral. We’re not so sure if people would be happy to dance to a track at funeral with as many social anxieties as Digital Witness but it’s an apt description of the world we live in. Maybe the heart of that comment is that she wanted people to dance to less than ideal circumstances in some sort of hopeless despair. Digital Witness is about people’s reliance on technology and their lessening interest with the outside, yet it’s backed by joyous brass that could have you easily misreading the anxious lyrics. It’s the juxtaposition between the subject and the instrumental that makes Digital Witness such an odd triumph. [/one_half_last]

[one_half_last]“Fuck that get down” is probably our mantra for 2014. Down On My Luck depicts that point in the night when you’ve got a little bit too drunk, lost your friends and are wandering the club in a hazy mess. Lucky there’s that split second where you spot a few strangers in the same situation as you and suddenly lose all inhibition. You’re not yourself, you’ve forgotten everything that happened that day but you’re content for that moment. That’s Vic Mensa’s Down On My Luck and the fact that we can see that situation so vividly is a testament to Mensa’s craft. Rap met dance and they married happily ever after in 2014. [/one_half_last]

[one_half_last]Video Girl is the most autobiographical track on FKA Twigs’ brilliant debut record, LP1. Twigs started her career as a dancer for pop acts like Jessie J- a world that could not be further than the one she is circulating in right now. Video Girl is about her denying that she was in those videos, most likely because she saw herself as something very different to what she was acting as in those videos. Video Girl is the most straightforward track we’ve heard from Twigs melodically, but it’s the honesty that makes it as profound as it is. “Nineteen, too keen”, she opens the track with. Now she’s 26 and proud to say she is the girl from the video. Her own videos. And damn good videos at that.[/one_half_last]

[one_half_last]Clubbing in the UK, particularly in its underground, has always had an industrial feel to it. It feels cold, yet communal, with the knowledge that everyone is there for the same reason. Jamie xx captures that feeling perfectly on All Under One Roof Raving. The steel drums and vocal samples capture that industrial, rebellious feel while the title alone is enough to make you feel nostalgic. Dance music has always been a movement, driven by what’s happening around it in society. All Under One Roof Raving sounds like a manifesto, with voices shouting “we don’t need anybody, we’re independent”. [/one_half_last]

[one_half_last]SBTRKT was in the position to make a clubbing anthem like Jamie xx but instead he turned his sights to the cosmopolitan side of New York. Propelled by the beautiful and astute observations of Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City, Ezra Koenig has become somewhat of a voice for the city and on New Dorp, New York he leads perfectly. SBTRKT’s first single, Temporary View, off Wonder Where We Land, had us worried he was following the exact same formula as his debut, but New Dorp, New York squashed those fears. It’s weird. You’re never sure what corner it’s going to turn around. At times, it jingles with an industrial grittiness and at other times it’s polished and clean. Just like New York, I suppose.[/one_half_last]

[one_half_last]There’s something wrong with the human memory. A hangover is one of the most regretful momentary illnesses and yet as time passes, so too does the memory, as the human once again throws back drinks for that short burst of euphoria as the music pulsates. Röyksopp and Robyn made an anthem for those that remember the highs more than the lows. Do It Again is a track that strobes with power, thumping with earth-shattering bass and soaring with Robyn’s on-point vocal. Röyksopp and Robyn were the best pairing of 2014 and this song is an expected powerhouse.


[one_half_last]The RnB resurgence was in full swing in 2014 and even though How To Dress Well channels a similar aesthetic on Repeat Pleasure, he’s distanced himself from that movement, rather classing himself more in the league of Sun Kil Moon or Arthur Russell. Repeat Pleasure does sound like RnB, there’s no denying that, but there’s more depth to it. There’s heart-wrenching guitar solos, gentles melodies that would sound at home in folk tracks and ambient synths that would find themselves at home in atmospheric electronica. It’s a melting pot of sounds and a track with a huge heart. [/one_half_last]

[one_half_last]There was not one person this year who didn’t ask for the name of this song when played in the vicinity of them. No matter what instrumental stylings she decides upon, La Roux knows how to craft a brilliant melody and the chorus of Sexotheque is her finest work to date. Laced with ‘70s nostalgia, Sexotheque is the perkiest track on Trouble In Paradise- one that uses repetition, the way it should be used, to work its way inside your head and never allow itself to be released. Yes, it drove many mad all year, but it alway did wonderful things on the dancefloor. It was La Roux’s unrealised chart hit. [/one_half_last]

[one_half_last]There was a lot of hype around Jungle even before their identity had been revealed. It’s because their sound was instantaneous. Those funky basslines get you straight away and the incessant funk attached to each of the tracks makes it almost impossible for even the most skeptical of critics to deny their appeal. Busy Earnin’ is, and will remain, their theme song. It’s a song that radiates swagger. The type that John Travolta had when he stormed the floor in Saturday Night Fever. It’s effortlessly cool with an undeniable presence, illuminated by brassy synths and heavily layered vocals.[/one_half_last]

[one_half_last]Jessie Ware pretty much only writes about love. In pop music, writing about love only seems to have two general modes: falling in love and falling out of love. Ware’s success comes in the way she hones into the specifics of a relationship, effortlessly marrying the lyrics with the vocal and instrumental. Tough Love is a fragile track. Ware is at the very edge of her vocal capabilities and the instrumental is almost wafer thin. So too is the subject matter. It’s that moment when you have to lay everything on the line and say how you feel aka. one of the most vulnerable moments in life. [/one_half_last]

[one_half_last]Club music at its heart should be all about elation. Nobody goes to the club to feel unhappy and while they may leave feeling that way, it’s never the intention. If a DJ knows his timing, You Too should come on at about 1am - it’s just before the drama begins, the drunks begin to heave on the sidewalk and the club begins to clear out. Those incessant keys and heighty vocal samples are euphoria-inducing while the instrumental ebbs and flows serve up a balanced mix of hands-in-the-air moments and straight-up groove time. The MC in the music video says it best when she says, “keep it foxy, keep it fresh”- that’s what clubbing in 2014 was all about, wasn’t it?[/one_half_last]

[one_half_last]Caribou’s strength has always been warmth. Never one to be in your face, he chooses mellow synths over pounding percussion and only inserts his own vocal if absolutely necessary. Can’t Do Without You wasn’t immediate or instantly likeable. Like its own instrumental trajectory, it was one that grew on you. If you’re at the point where you like Can’t Do Without You more than you ever will, the lyric, “I can’t do without you” should make your heart skip and the final, climatic rush of synths should give you goosebumps. If not, keep listening and it will reveal itself to you. Can’t Do Without You is a masterclass in subtlety.

[one_half_last]If you’re going to make the crossover from indie darling into pop superstar you better do it right. And that’s exactly what Sia did in 2014. She’d had plenty of practice writing for the likes of Beyonce and Rihanna but she was yet to step out by herself and prove her chops. Chandelier has all the makings of a big pop song. It has commands (“1,2,3 Drink!”), a big, powerful message (“I’m going to live like tomorrow doesn’t exist”) and a stratospheric chorus. Sia could have given the track away and it no doubt would have been a massive hit but no artist could have done that vocal run on “chandelier” like she does. This song is a pop monster. [/one_half_last]



[one_half_last]Last year, enigmatic British producer, SOPHIE, released Bipp- a song so incredibly full of sugar that it felt like a rush of blood to the head. It was a new kind of electronica. One that melded early ‘00s pop (cc: Annie) with ‘90s rave and our current internet age. It was Bipp that paved the way for Hey QT by PC Music creator, A.G. Cook and Sophie. Hey QT is even more saccharine than Bipp. It’s a giddy, loved-up track that sounds like it’s being sung by Siri. It’s surrounded by the story of an almost emotionless character who is endorsing the energy drink, QT. We’re still not sure what to make of the whole situation but we are sure that Hey QT is the best pop song of 2014 and perhaps one of the most innovative productions we’ve heard this year.[/one_half_last]




Just one song can change an artist’s career and this year we saw it with Future Islands. This year, the band released their fourth album, Singles, and on it was the mighty, Seasons (Waiting On You). The song was good on first listen, there’s no doubt about that. It’s a synth-based rock track, with emotionally-fuelled verses and a chorus that soars, but it wasn’t until they performed on Letterman that its full potential was realised. Frontman, Samuel Herring gave the performance of his life on Letterman, thrashing his body about with a dance-style that found a perfect balance between odd and committed. Herring embodied all the feeling that Seasons (Waiting On You) has pent up inside it. The performance is the most iconic of this year and the song itself will remain a bookmark for music in 2014.




FKA Twigs’ entire debut album, LP1 is all about fluidity. Probably due to her dancer background, each track on the album gently undulates with rushing synths and cascading beats like a body moving in the breeze. Two Weeks is the most powerful, sexually charged track on the album and the most daring song of 2014. Sex sells: it’s one of pop music’s greatest cash grabbers but here FKA Twigs presents it in a different way. Without an ounce of smut she delivers a line like “My thighs are apart for when you're ready to breathe in” as she extends her limbs and focuses her eyes (in the video). The dimly-lit percussion, flickers behind the whole time like pent up sexual energy which is all eventually released on the final bridge. The earliest artistic creations depicted sex as a sacred, intimate act and on Two Weeks, Twigs does the same thing. She treats it with respect and delivers it with grace. There’s no other song this year that was as lyrically bold, as instrumentally innovative and as melodically profound as this song.


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