The Best Tracks Of 2014

Choosing our favourite albums of the year is one thing, but choosing our favourite songs is more difficult, subjective, and personal. We asked our Demo contributors to name their favourite songs of the year. If you want to know which songs made us dance and cry this year, or if you just want some songs to listen to, then you can certainly do worse than read our list.

Alexander Si

1. Paloma Faith – “Only Love Can Hurt Like This”
2. Lana Del Rey – “West Coast”
3. Taylor Swift – “Wildest Dream”
4. Ed Sheeran – “Don’t”
5. Nicki Minaj – “Bed of Lies” (ft. Skylar Grey)

Angelo Mateo

1. Run The Jewels – “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry”

One line explains why this song belongs on top: “You can all run naked backward through a field of dicks.” Sharp and witty lyrics, powerful production from El-P and an effective beat change makes this track one of my favourites this year.

2. BADBADNOTGOOD – “Seasons (Waiting On You)” (reinterpretation)

Future Islands just released this version of their summer classic a few days ago and it has become one of my favourite tracks. Badbadnotgood deconstructs what makes the original track a hit by keeping lead singer Samuel T. Herring’s emotional vocals while stripping down the synths to its bare essentials. The chorus has a surf-rock, 1950s French pop sound that is ready to burst but restrains itself. That tension between excitement and caution is what makes BADBADNOTGOOD’s reimagination better than the original.

3. Run The Jewels – “Blockbuster Night Pt. 1”

Killer Mike and El-P were battling each other on the tracks and attempting to one-up the other’s rap verses. Blockbuster Night Pt. 1 stays true to that spirit. The two trade verses and complete each other’s lines, with lyrics such as “Top of the morning, my fist to your face is fucking Folgers.” Blockbuster Night Pt. 1 is yet another Run the Jewels classic that ends up on this list.

4. Sylvan Esso – “Hey Mami”

Hey Mami starts off as an acapella track, with city sounds in the background. But it builds up into a minimalistic electro pop sound, courtesy of Megafaun’s Nick Sanborn with Amelia Meath’s Appalachian folk vocals layered on top.

5. BADBADNOTGOOD – “Kaleidoscope” (ft. Leland Whitty)
6. Damien Rice – “The Greatest Bastard”
7. Run The Jewels – “Lie, Cheat, Steal”
8. Future Islands – “Seasons (Waiting On You)”
9. The Antlers – “Parade”
10. Tokyo Police Club – “Argentina (Parts I, II, III)”

Ayla Shiblaq

1. Death Grips – “Have a Sad Cum”
2. Flying Lotus – “Dead Man’s Tetris” (ft. Captain Murphy and Snoop Dogg)
3. Swans – “A Little God in My Hands”
4. Ryan Hemsworth – “Snow in Newark” (ft. Dawn Golden)
5. FKA Twigs – “Lights On”
6. Todd Terje – “Delorean Dynamite”
7. Katy Perry – “Dark Horse” (ft. Juicy J)
8. Caribou – “Can’t Do Without You”
9. GFOTY – “My Song”
10. Kevin Drew – “My God”

Claire Cowan

1. Gorgon City – “Ready For Your Love”
2. FKA Twigs – “Two Weeks”
3. Taylor Swift – “Blank Space”
4. Alt- J – “Hunger Of The Pine”
5. Banks – “Waiting Game”
6. Jessie Ware – “Tough Love”
7. One Direction – “Steal My Girl”
8. Flying Lotus – “Dead Man’s Tetris” (ft. Captain Murphy and Snoop Dogg)
9. SBTRKT – “New Dorp. New York” (ft. Ezra Koenig)
10. Bahamas – “All The Time”

Elysse Cloma

1. FKA twigs – “Two Weeks”
2. FKA twigs – “Papi Pacify”
3. Tinashe – “How Many Times”
4. Ty Segall – “Manipulator”
5. Childish Gambino – “Sober”
6. Alvvays – “Archie, Marry Me”
7. The Weeknd – “Often”
8. Grouper – “Call Across Rooms”
9. Love Me Harder – “Ariana Grande”
10. Hozier – “Take Me To Church”

Emily Scherzinger

1. Sharon Van Etten – “Your Love Is Killing Me”

This song features some of the best lyrics I’ve heard in a while, within a classic rock song structure that’s heavy on guitar — this song is essentially SVE perfecting the rock song.

2. Lana Del Rey – “Cruel World”

Here comes Lana, showing the world how to properly begin an album. While Ultraviolence may have ended up being a little top-heavy, beginning the album with “Cruel World” was one of the best decisions she ever made. This song is a powerhouse, clocking in at 6 and a half minutes, that made my jaw drop when I heard it for the first time.

3. “FKA twigs – Two Weeks”

FKA twigs is an intriguing, experimental, ground-breaking artist that explores themes such as sexuality, abuse, and love in her music. This song is amazing to listen to, as it investigates some of those themes.

4. Dan Mangan + Blacksmith – “Vessel”

This quirky song has a great build-up, a powerful climax, and incredible use of Mangan’s vocals. When asked about the song, Mangan explained, “We’re afraid to be honest with ourselves and actually work through the highs and the lows and embrace them.” That’s a great message packaged within a cool song.

5. Hundred Waters – “Murmurs”

This is simply a beautiful song from start to finish — everything from the lyrics, “I wish you would see what I see” repeated in slight murmurs at the beginning, to the incredible echoing harmonies throughout the song.

6. Kendrick Lamar – “i”

Lamar’s first single off his third album owes it’s catchiness to the Isley Brothers’ “That Lady,” but the song’s message is entirely Lamar’s; he admits that the song is about “sparking the idea of some type of change through music or through me”.

7. Mac DeMarco – “Blue Boy”

This song was all I listened to during the summer of 2014, and, as winter draws closer and closer, I’m hit with a wave of summer nostalgia that makes me want to cry whenever I listen to this song.

8. Alt-J – “Every Other Freckle”

The lyrics of this song are pretty stupid — what do they mean by, “I’m gonna bed you like a cat beds into a beanbag/Turn you inside out and lick you like a crisp packet”? — but I’m a sucker for anything from Alt-J.

9. Lykke Li – “Love Me Like I’m Not Made of Stone”

This song is the anthem for anyone who has ever been broken in any form. Li’s rough voice compliments the sad lyrics, sung over a simple acoustic guitar as she pleads, “Even though it hurts, even though it scars / Love me when it storms, love me when I fall.”

10. All We Are – “Can’t Do Without You” (Caribou cover)

This beautiful cover features an echoing, lonesome guitar in the background instead of Caribou’s original Foals-esque synth, as well as soft female vocals to balance out the gripping loneliness that this song is contingent upon; however, the song ultimately reaches and ends with a instrumentally heavy climax that negates the sadness.

James Li

1. Sun Kil Moon – “Carissa”

Mark Kozelek spins a story about the death of a second cousin he barely knew in painstakingly specific detail. A line like “Carissa was 35 / You don’t just raise two kids and die” is so blunt that it leaves bruises.

2. Swans – “Oxygen”

“Oxygen” is a throwback to the hellish grind of Swans’ early years. It’s an eight minute song, but it moves so fast that it doesn’t let you breathe. Michael Gira screams that he’ll “steal all the oxygen” and he follows through on that promise.

3. Flying Lotus – “Never Catch Me” (ft. Kendrick Lamar)

Steven Ellison, aka Flying Lotus, is heir apparent to the jazz fusion greats, and this song is Ellison at his top form. Kendrick Lamar’s deft rapping and Thundercat’s rapid-fire bass weave in and out of Ellison’s cool piano lines.

4. Sharon Van Etten – “Your Love Is Killing Me”

Singing is Sharon Van Etten’s strong suit, but subtlety sure isn’t. Just listen the chorus, where she howls: “Burn my skin so I can’t feel you / Stab my eyes so I can’t see.” As subtle and as painful as a sack of bricks to the face.

5. Rich Gang – “Givenchy”

“Versace” and “Tom Ford” were two of the biggest rap hits last year, but “Givenchy” tops both of them. Young Thug delivers three minutes of straight bars, sounding like a frenzied cat in the process.

6. Angel Olsen – “Hi-Five”

Someone in the YouTube comments for this song perfectly described it as “Laura Palmer meets Dolly Parton.” Angel Olsen might be more of a medium than a singer-songwriter then, because her warbling voice channels Hank Williams, Roy Orbison, Patsy Cline, and Connie Converse from beyond.

7. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – “Harold’s”

For Freddie Gibbs, fried chicken goes hand-in-hand with his gangster lifestyle: “KFC, Harolds, Sharks and Popeyes / Adidas suit with a plate of chicken, got mob ties”. I’ve never been to the Chicago restaurant that gives this song its name, but it sure makes me hungry for Popeyes.

8. Deafheaven – “From the Kettle onto the Coil”

Kvlt purists hate Deafheaven for adulterating black metal with shoegaze and post-rock. Their loss. “From the Kettle onto the Coil” is my metal song of the year, propelled by a barrage of cymbals, sick riffs, and George Clarke’s throat-shredding shrieks.

9. Strand of Oaks – “JM”

The singer-songwriter Jason Molina died last year, and “JM” is Strand of Oaks’ slow-burning eulogy. Over a guitar squall, Timothy Showalter reminiscences about turning to Molina’s “sweet tunes” for solace.

10. QT – “Hey QT”

This song/energy drink hybrid is pop music for a chrome-plated future. The pitch-shifted chipmunk vocals and sassy call-and-response come together to make this year’s glossiest, sweetest, and most polarizing pop song.

Marko Cindric

1. Marion Cotillard – “Snapshot in LA”
2. Caribou – “Second Chance” (ft. Jessy Lanza)
3. RAMZi – “Star Kè”
4. Odonis Odonis – “High Note”
5. Röyksopp & Robyn – “Sayit”
6. iamamiwhoami – “Tap Your Glass”
7. How to Dress Well – “Repeat Pleasure” (A. G. Cook remix)
8. Death Grips – “Say Hey Kid”
9. You’ll Never Get to Heaven – “Adorn”
10. Mozart’s Sister – “Good Thing Bad Thing”

Melissa Vincent

1. Pharmakon – “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” (Nancy Sinatra cover)
2. Rustie – “Raptor”
3. Iceage – “Forever”
4. Owen Pallett – “On a Path”
5. Sturgill Simpson – “It Ain’t All Light”

Sayem Khan

1. Travi$ Scott – “Skyfall” (ft. Young Thug)
2. spooky black – “interlude”
3. Chance the Rapper – “I Am Very Very Lonely”
4. Childish Gambino – “U Don’t Have To Call”
5. Frank Ocean – “Memrise”
6. Travi$ Scott – “Drugs You Should Try It”
7. Drake – “Heat of the Moment”
8. Theophilus London – “Smoke (Interlude)”
9. spooky black – “reason”
10. Childish Gambino – “3005 (Beach Picnic Version)”

Stuart Oakes

1. Porter Robinson – “Sad Machine”
2. Saint Pepsi – “Fiona Coyne”
3. Lana Del Rey – “Brooklyn Baby”
4. Young Thug – “Old English” (ft. A$AP Ferg and Freddie Gibbs)
5. Spoon – “Do You”
6. Tove Lo – “Habits (Stay High)”
7. Rustie – “Raptor”
8. Alex G – “Break”
9. Thaiboy Digital – “Tiger”
10. Sophie – “Lemonade”

One Response to “The Best Tracks Of 2014”
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  1. […] in the genre. Much beloved around these parts (his track “Fiona Coyne” was second on my list of favourite songs from 2014), he functions mostly as a songwriter these days. However, it was not too long ago that he was […]

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