Top 10 Pop Hits of 2014

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Tis the season people! No, not Christmas, for end of the year lists! Yes, the most wonderful time of the year has finally arrived and I am kicking it off as I always do, with the top 10 best pop hits of the year! This year I am planning on releasing 13 best of type lists for you, so you can look forward to that.

A quick note about eligibility, in order to qualify on this list a song had to make it into the top 10 of the Billboard charts at any point during the year. This means that a song could have been released the year prior, but as long as it was in the top 10 this year, it counts. One other note: if a song meets all of the qualifications above, but was on one of my best of lists from last year, it will not make the list.

(Note: Not every song is for every person, there may be some songs that you consider innapropriate; I do not recommend everything that I like for everyone. Proceed with your own discretion.)

Here it is, enjoy!

10. Charli XCX “Boom Clap”

I think Charli XCX will always be someone who is fun to listen to, but I’m not sure she will ever transcend pop or turn into a pop star. She seems to be stuck in between and this songs paints that picture perfectly.

9. Clean Bandit “Rather Be”

Well this group seemed to come out of nowhere and sometimes nowhere can come up with a pretty good song. It’s pleasant, it’s not filled with too much star power or personality which can be a breath of fresh air on the radio.

8. Taylor Swift “Shake it Off”

I’ve been up and down on it all year. At first I wasn’t sure about it, then I got pretty into it, but after the release of another single my head wonders why I ever though this song was good at all? It’s still pretty good though, which is why it lands here.

7. Jessie J w/Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj “Bang Bang”

This is a great song that somehow manages to pull off this sort of 90s female power vibe while fitting in Nicki Minaj and showcasing the young talent of pop today. Jessie J and Grande are both great singers and when given a good song they can really make a gem of it. Same goes with Minaj who is also extremely talented in the right context.

6. SIA “Chandelier”

What starts off as a track that was clearly meant for Rihanna quickly turns into one of the year’s best choruses and perhaps makes SIA a viable threat in the female pop star category. SIA has all the talent and this song proved that she could make a hit on her own merit.

5. Problem – Ariana Grande

Oh Ariana you could have had the number one spot. You were so close! Your voice kills it. This song is an upbeat anthem that doesn’t rely on Calvin Harris to make it something. But you made two mistakes. One, Iggy Azalea. I realize that at first this might seem silly–she was probably THE pop star for most of the year (until Taylor showed up) and I actually liked the verse the first 15 times I heard it, but it already feels outdated. The second is that chorus, how much more anticlimactic can you be? A whispering Big Sean is not the direction you should have taken this song. I’m sure the kids at high school dances will find clever ways to incorporate your miscue into having a good time, but this was even worse than the end to the Lego Movie.

4. Nico and Vinz “Am I Wrong?”

I have the feeling that these types of one-hit wonder indie pop groups will continue to pop up with random singles that become huge only to rarely be heard from again (“Somebody I Used to Know”, “Pumped Up Kicks”). Their songs range from being just good enough you don’t change the radio when it comes on to being good enough that you seek it out and listen to it despite its constant presence on the radio. This one leans toward the latter.

3. Lorde “Team”

A song I actually liked before it became a hit and one that was released last year, but did not peak until this year. Lorde is probably the most independent minded of all the big pop stars today and I might like “Team” better than her biggest hit, “Royals”. How could you not with a line like “I’m kind of over getting told to throw my hands up in the air”. She has the star power of a cynic, a dirge that graced the tops of the charts despite its glorious apathy and it certainly touched my emotionless heart.

2. Taylor Swift “Blank Space”

The latest song to reach number one solidified itself the moment I watched the music video–a fun and self aware bit with Taylor torturing a lover and later welcoming a new one. Not sure if it has reached the heights of the best Taylor has ever done, but it is close.

1. Beyonce “Drunk In Love”

This song edges the line of being a cheat but does technically qualify under the (strict) guidelines I have set for myself. Released late last year in the middle of all the best of lists, “Drunk In Love” never had a chance to actually make any of these lists. While the song did eventually rise into the top 10, it wasn’t a mainstay and never reached the top spot. Regardless of how many times I actually heard the song on the radio, it was by far my favorite single to reach the top 10 this year. It’s a sort of sequel to Jay and Bey’s “Crazy in Love”, but one that takes on a far more sexual bent, featuring a far more aggressive and modern Beyonce. It’s like a 2014 rendition of Song of Songs, a perhaps too revealing look into the intimacy that a married couple can have. It’s so good.

Top 10 Radio Hits of 2012

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This is something that I started last year, and I figured it’s a good way to rank my guilty pleasure songs of the year. Not that these songs won’t be appearing on my top songs list, but let’s just say that some definitely won’t.

It is hard to come up with a criteria for this, because what exactly does a radio hit mean? I tried to stick to songs that were mostly popular on Top 40 radio stations (I scoured the Billboard charts to see what was big and when), but I don’t really listen to top 40 radio, so that’s hard.

These songs were big on at least some radio station or some chart, there were hits in some sense of the word and are usually songs that despite all of your efforts against it, repeat in your head endlessly. Anytime these come on, like a gag reflex of sorts, I sing along.

My Top 10 Radio Hits of 2012:

Listen along on Spotify: Top 10 Radio Hits of 2012

10. Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen “Good Time”-I thought I would like this song a bit more than I actually did, because, while Jepsen and Owl City are both equally sweet, as a duet they don’t really flow together that well. The song is good, but doesn’t quite meet the level that it could have. Honestly the best part is that Owl City’s vocals remind me so much of the lead singer of Mae and I wish that it was him singing it instead and that Mae was huge and awesome.

9. David Guetta with Sia “Titanium”-David Guetta is pretty held back for most of this song, which is really refreshing for him. He allows the song to slowly build behind Sia’s vocals before exploding into the chorus, where they pretty kill it (how can you not like the “…I am titanIUM” part?).

8. Justin Bieber “Boyfriend”-This song is both ridiculously cheesy and really well sung. Every part where Biebs is rapping is terrible, both lyrically and in execution. Bieber says swag way too often, which makes him come out looking like some high-schooler making a song for his You Tube channel (imagine that?). However the parts he does sing have been (rightly) called Timberlake-esque. They are really well done and perhaps when Biebs get older (or hires some better lyricists) he can get to that point too.

7. Maroon 5 “Payphone”-Maroon 5 is constantly making ear worms that come inside you and tortuously wreck your brain, last year’s “Moves Like Jagger” is the number 1 example of that (perhaps the worst song ever that you cannot simply get out of your brain). “Payphone” surprisingly seems thoughtful, it is more restrained and instead of torturing you, more pleasingly eats away at your brain cells. If Whiz Kalifa wasn’t in it, with that lame rap verse it might even be higher.

6. One Direction “What Makes You Beautiful”-I am actually surprised how much I like this song. It doesn’t really have the vocal style and content that I enjoy (even in a pop song). Whatever it is doing, it somehow worked it’s way to number 6 on my list, good job by you!

5. Mumford & Sons “I Will Wait”-Not sure how big this was on Top 40 radio, but it was on some radio so it counts right? With this one, Mumford created the perfect radio single for themselves, it is accessible, contains some of those passionate vocals, along with their now classic strumming pattern and banjo stylings. I think it might be there best song off of the new album, it is nothing groundbreaking, but perhaps they are best served for making impassioned folk songs accessible for everyone.

4. Gotye “Somebody That I Used to Know”-This song really came out of nowhere to becoming a big hit. How did people get into this? It is a slow song with an indie feel, that is actually kind of sad. It is extremely catchy, and you just know that I will be a sucker for a song combining all of those elements. It is you America that I am surprised at.

3. fun. “Some Nights”-This band’s other song, “We Are Young” was probably the bigger hit, but I didn’t find very much interesting or redeeming about that song, and believe me, I love fun. I have been following singer Nate Ruess’ work for the past 6 years, in his old project The Format, and in fun.’s debut album “Aim & Ignite” (which to be clear was my album of the year in 2009). The boy’s broke it big this year, which was shocking to me. This song throws together all the best parts of Nate’s work over the years. It has the depth and honesty that made me love The Format, it has the epic drama that fun.’s debut had, and combines the auto tune and production stylings that helped to get them big this year.

2. Taylor Swift “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”-The first time I ever heard this song was on the radio and I swear that I was listening to something by Avril Lavigne from 10 years ago, and I mean that in the best way imaginable. Taylor Swift somehow managed to go from singing pop-country songs to making an acoustic pop anthem. Seriously, has anyone ever done this before?

1. Carly Rae Jepsen “Call Me Maybe”-Was there a better radio hit this year? Dare I ask if there was a better song this year? The inflections in her voice are irresistible, she is so charming, innocent, and lovely. This song sparked so many video covers and caused so many people to dance stupidly, but this hype did not turn me off to this song. I still love it every time I hear it.

Honorable mentions: “Drive-By” by Train, “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson, “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons”, “Hey Ho” by the Lumineers