Sunday, 14 December 2014

Top 114 Songs of 2014, #10 - 1

Tkay Maidza, Little May + Thelma Plum!

by Jack White

I'm so Detroit, I make it rise from the ashes...

There's cool and then there's Jack White cool. At this point, the man can do no wrong and this year's Lazaretto proved it beyond a shadow of a doubt. He's come a long way from the alternative White Stripes days to become one of the biggest rock stars on the planet, tearing up the Glastonbury stage (figuratively and literally). He's at his very best on the title track for his second studio LP with some down and dirty guitar work that will have your hands in the air saying, "preach." Every word is a reminder that White is far cooler than you ever have any hope of being and he probably doesn't even know it. Dropping into Spanish, talking about God "herself" and being quarantined on the Isle of Man. There's too much goodness for one listen. I'll just have to keep on listening, won't I? (Matt Bond) 

Oh Jack. Oh sigh... (Jo Michelmore)

by Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX

First things first I'm the realest,
Drop this and let the whole world feel it... 

Every day I find more things to love about Iggy Azalea. Which is weird, because this time last year I would have been the first to painfully groan if I heard her name. I'm not going to do a 180 and pretend I loved anything released before this year. But I think I'm falling in love with Azalea as a person. Do you follow her Twitter account? Do it. She's great. A couple of days ago she found out people were claiming she was born a man named Cody. Instead of making a big deal, she just said she thinks she'd be better as a Liam. When a new Eminem track had lyrics about raping Iggy, she got responded with, "im bored of the old men threatening young women as entertainment trend and much more interested in the young women getting $ trend. zzz". And good on her. Young women have dominated the charts this year and Azalea played her part on the monster hits 'Problem', 'Black Widow' and, ba da bom... bom bom... 'Fancy'. There's been a lot of things I've loved about Iggy Azalea in 2014, but nothing comes close to the love I've got for 'Fancy'. Seven weeks at #1 in the US, Billboard's Song of the Summer 2014, a Record of the Year nomination for the upcoming Grammy Awards and the most streamed song of the year in America on Spotify. It's just a little bit fancy, yes? 'Fancy' hasn't just made Iggy Azalea into a house hold name, it's also done wonders for Charli XCX's stock in the music industry. Everything about the tracks equaled pop perfection; one of the best choruses of the year, I-G-G-Y showing she actually can rap with the best of them (while delivering ridiculous/amazing rhymes) and the brilliant Clueless inspired music video. These days, I really do think Iggy's the realest... and oh so fancy. (Matt Bond)  

First things first (you knew one of us was going to do that, right?) I haven’t always been the biggest fan of I-GG-Y. I never hated her, I just didn’t get her. Let’s not say that I get her any more now than 12 months ago, but I do get a catchy beat when I hear it. The subtle slight bass and off beat give a slow groove vibe, while Charli XCX sings the chorus with such a sing-song school yard feeling that is a little hard to get out of your head once it gets in there. I’m not really sure trashing hotels and mini bars is actually that fancy, but if Iggy says it is then maybe I’m just being old fashioned. This could be the Ice Ice Baby of this generation, after all, if half the world can rememeber the first couple of lines of that song “Alright stop. Collaborate and listen (mumble mumble mumble) ice ice baby, too cold” then maybe in 20 years time people might be chanting “first things first (mumble mumble mumble) I’m so fancy….” at each other in the same way and that wouldn’t be a bad thing at all. PS There is no fast lane from LA to Tokyo. Takes about 12 hours. Don’t always believe what you hear in rap. End. (Jo Michelmore)

by Hey Lady!

Push me to the limit, taking it all the way,
I can't focus, I can't feel my intuition. 

This is the best straight up rock and roll song of 2014. It's a non-stop sensory assault/delight that I have not been able to stop listening to since it first came across our radar at the end of September. It's made all the better that 'My Head, My Heart' is coming to us from Newcastle, from the most excellent Hey Lady! which is comprised of Jess Moxey and Stef Threadgate. Newcastle has seriously become one of our favourite places in Australia with all the incredible music coming out of it. Moxey and Threadgate might only be a two-piece act, but the full sound they're able to make with a guitar, a drum kit and their voice is huge. And amazing. And I want to keep on hearing more from Hey Lady! in 2015 and I want to hear 'My Head, My Heart' on the radio every day. And so should you. (Matt Bond)  

A couple of times on this countdown we’ve spoken about one of the biggest benefits of blogging, which is the constant introduction to new music. Our inbox is flooded with emails every day, sometimes from generic mailing lists asking us to listen to the latest blah from blah, sometimes from Mr and Mrs Pradesh who definitely have a million pound to give us if only we’ll give them our bank account details and sometimes, every now and then, we get emails that introduce us to music we can’t believe we didn’t know and we can’t believe we’re lucky enough to get sent to us. When this email landed in our account this year, I was hoping it was a pick up line for Matt or myself “Heeeeey ladeeee!” so I’m going to admit, I was slightly disappointed when it wasn’t. I moved on pretty quickly though, as I have a tendency to do from these things, because when I heard what Hey Lady actually meant, my head and my heart (boom tish!) immediately knew this wasn’t something to be disappointed about, this was gonna become one of my fave songs of the year. It’s a pretty simple equation; two girls plus guitars plus a little bit of attitude and throw in some feelings of 90s alternative/grungy rock and you come up with ‘My Head My Heart’. It’s assertive, it’s simple confidence and it’s as catchy as you can get. It’s also made its way into my head and my heart (bam! I’ve done it again!) in a big way and it’s not going away any time soon. (Jo Michelmore)

by Curxes

I've never been patient, subtle or vacant,
When thinking of ways that could persuade... 

A little lesson for you, because you’re probably going to have some questions: Valkyrie is a female figure in old Norse mythology who would decide who would live and who would die in battle and yes, it’s also the name of the awesome song featuring at number 7 in our countdown. And for those of you who are not familiar with the name (why aren’t you reading this here blog more often?) Curxes are a musical act hailing from Brighton and it’s surrounds in the UK. Yes, they are very good aren’t they? Why do we like them so much? Because of their crazy time travelling ways, where they have this incredible talent of pulling together sounds that remind us of the past, especially some of the greats in what would have been known as cutting edge music from the 80s and throwing them into songs that sound like they should be made in the future. How do they do that, you ask? Well I’m not really sure, but I know Macaulay Hopwood has a massive amount of talent that he throws at guitars and synths and various other music making machines and he creates and mashes together sounds that make me want to dance and throw my head around and scream all at the same time. I also know Roberta Fidora has an incredibly powerful voice that makes me want to do similar things, but also makes me sit still and listen and wait for the “wow” that’s inevitably going to happen whenever she hits the notes I only ever dare to dream of hitting in my own lounge, in my car, at karaoke. A good example of this is ‘Valkyrie’. Go on, press play. Listen. It’s dark, it’s loud, it’s confronting and it’s fabulous. Dare you not to like. Best you like, because as we learnt in the beginning, otherwise old Norse Valkyrie could be watching and you don’t want a bad visit from her. Your homework? Google Curxes. Enjoy it all. You won’t regret it. (Jo Michelmore)

by Sia

I'm gonna fly like a bird through the night,
Feel my tears as they dry... 

Sia this and Sia that and Sia songwriter extraordinaire, Sia Australian blah blah blah…the words about Sia this year have been endless…all of them also irrelevant really, once the world sat up and finally took some notice of her as her own pop superstar as opposed to being one of the many who stand behind the pop superstars, with the release of her performing her own song; ‘Chandelier’. Some people didn’t love it so much, claiming it sounded too much like (insert generic pop star name here), but that seemed like such a silly sentence to me, considering that Sia has written so many of the songs we’ve all come to know and love from (insert generic pop star name here), so doesn’t that mean they all sound like her and not the other way around? There could be a bazillion reasons why this was the one that hit the public’s general consciousness, but it’s obvious I’m no psycho-analyst type person, I just write on a blog. What I do know is that ‘Chandelier’ is an extraordinary piece of pop which makes you want to dance, sing and cry all at the same time. I’m a girl who loves a good lyric, so for me it’s probably those three things in the reverse order, but all the feelings are there. And I might be the only person in the world who thought the clip was all a bit #wankwankwank, but I could also be the only person in the world who thinks this is one of the most depressing and sad songs of the year…and that’s exactly why I love it so much. (Jo Michelmore)

There's a reason why 'Chandelier' became Sia Furler's most successful hit to date, sending her into Top 10's throughout the world. It's pretty simple really... this is one of the best pop songs you're going to hear. Ever. In your life. Every single artist that Sia has penned music for over the past couple of years would have killed to have 'Chandelier' added to their collection. All the pop stars that she hasn't written for would want it too. And let's be honest, there aren't many she hasn't written for. Furler was very smart to hang onto this one and she absolutely nailed it, especially when it comes to that massive chorus and her insane vocal performance. This is just excellent pop music. And I love pop music. (Matt Bond)  

by Jack Colwell and The Owls

And oh, let me down... far from view.

I just want you to do me a favour. If you’ve read some of the words on this countdown and haven’t hit play on something you hadn’t heard of yet, then if you don’t know the name Jack Colwell, just hit play now. It won’t take long, I promise, just a couple of minutes of your day, but they’ll be minutes that will change your musical year, right here at the very end of it. When you find out Jack Colwell is just a sweet guy from Australia, classically trained and unsigned to a major label, you’re going to be shocked. When you learn that he self-released his own EP in his teens you’re going to feel like an underachiever but when you listen, you’re going to wonder how someone like this hasn’t really come into your world until now. You’re going to let the sound of all the instruments that don’t normally make it into your collection of pop wash over you and you’re going to want more and more. Your heart is going to tremble a little at the sound of his so unique voice and you’re going to want him to never stop singing so you’re going to go back and hear that lyric again; “I feel two hands in the dark, but I feel nothing….” And after all of that, you’re hopefully going to visit his bandcamp page and thrown a $2 coin at his account, because that’s virtually nothing for something that changed your year. And then you’re going to take a breath and have a little sigh, because you’ve realised that everything in the world is a little better with Jack Colwell in it. And yes, you’re more than welcome. (Jo Michelmore) 

Jack Ignatius Colwell. Look, I made the middle name up, but I feel like it has to be something as distinguished and refined as 'Far From View'. So I'm going with Ignatius. 'Far From View' very quickly became one of my most loved tracks of 2014 with its use of cinematic strings, dramatic lyrics that paint a vivid picture and Colwell's magnetic presence as a singer. I still love the slow build at the beginning of the track that leads up to Colwell's entrance with an arresting line about his heart breaking in two and light shining through. It just keeps on getting better from there with Colwell getting to let loose as the track hits the home stretch and a confession of feeling nothing and my heart's just sorta breaking over here so let's stop talking about it for a second and let's just listen to the song again. Take a breath, listen to 'Far From View', fall in love with the music of Jack Colwell. P.s. the video is also one of the year's best. (Matt Bond)

#4. 90s MUSIC
by Kimbra

Some old song I know, won't get out of my head,
Though the feeling's gone, the love ain't disappeared... 

I waited so long for Kimbra’s second album to come out and it was one of those situations where I was so excited when it was being released I may have felt a little sick before I pressed play on that first listen. And when I say sick I mean sick in the best way, sick with excitement and nerves and anticipation. ‘90s Music’ was the first taste of new Kimbra, post Vows, post Gotye, post world-wide fame and superstardom and what a brave taste it was. It proved what we suspected all along, that Kimbra is not just a cookie cutter pop star, she’s a musician that is not afraid to push some boundaries, not afraid to be herself and not afraid of her own talent. With its unusual rhythms, samples and beats, it wasn’t McDonalds easy to eat and throw away pop, it was a little confronting, a little intimidating and a little exciting and it showed that she isn’t afraid of pushing some boundaries. Actually, I shall rephrase that, she doesn’t even know what the boundaries of pop are and that makes her one of the most exciting pop stars and musicians of 2014. (Jo Michelmore)

Kimbra Johnson, is there anything you can't do? If we go off her sophomore album, The Golden Echo, the answer is no. Kimbra can pull off any look, any genre... anything and everything. And she's just like us. You know how I know this? She loves 90s music! And I know this because she put a song out called '90s Music' where she name drops the likes of Nirvana, Mariah and TLC. So what I'm saying is, Kimbra and I are best friends. No, wait... that's not right. '90s Music' was an unexpected step in a truly experimental pop direction with a hip hop flair for an artist known for her jazzy vocal tones and quirky, vintage sounds. Was it a good move? Is it #4 on our top songs of the year list? Does that question answer the first question? Good. Now, to try and get this '90s Music' song out of my head... (Matt Bond)   

#3. DUST
by Little May

And I'm sinking into something that I wish I hadn't found...
Knee deep in the dust, knee deep in the dust. 

Each and every time I hear 'Dust' I get taken back to the first time I heard it. Which was sitting on that kinda uncomfortable pebble beach next to the pier in Brighton in the UK, watching the sunrise after a fantastic night. It only took that first listen for 'Dust' to become part of my life's soundtrack and I'll always be incredibly grateful to Little May for that. 'Dust' was the first new song we got to hear from Little May in 2014 and in my opinion, it's their best track so far. It breaks your heart and puts it back together, leaving you with a bit more hope and optimism than you might have had going in. It has a beautiful vocal performance from Liz Drummond and then there's also those Little May harmonies I was raving about when 'Bones' hit our countdown. There's more memorable lines than you can shake a stick at. And then there's the video which I don't want to spoil if you haven't seen it, but I'll just say it's ok to have a bit of a cry. Or a lot of a cry. Not that I would do such a thing... Yep. Little May have come such a long way in such a short time and we can't wait to see and hear what comes next. (Matt Bond) 

It’s hard to say any more about a band that Matt has said so much about and I’ve probably thought already. They have proven time and time again with each sound just how talented they are and they prove with every song that they have a little way of making my heart beat a little faster and sing a little louder every time I hear them. Liz Drummond, Hannah Field and Annie Hamilton; these are the names you need to remember, each as important as each other in the band, each bringing their own element of life to their sounds and each of those sounds have made their way into not only my 2014 playlist, but that special little place in the soundtrack of my life. ‘Dust’ made its way in there with its lullaby guitars and the lyric that ends which makes me want to hear it again to get to that ending a million times over; “And I missed you, I still miss you…” It’s so hard to say anything more or better than my fabulous fellow blogger Matt has already said, because quite simply, Little May are exactly as he described; “ridiculously good”. (Jo Michelmore)

by Thelma Plum

Don't speak, you said I have your love,
But not how much it will cost. 

I know Thelma Plum’s debut EP Rosie like an old friend, I know all its ins and outs, it’s seen me though every mood, through a thousand ups and a thousand downs. It is who I turned to so much in the last year and it has never ever let me down. So when Thelma’s second EP Monsters was released this year, I wasn’t sure if we would become the same friends that Rosie and I had, but I needn’t have worried, it seems a friend of Thelma’s is a friend of mine and one of the best parts of our friendship? ‘How Much Does Your Love Cost?’ was the first taste of this friendship earlier this year and what an introduction it was. The twang of guitar, the whirlwind emotion of strings, the impressive percussion and there, above it all, Thelma’s voice; soft, sweet, gentle but powerful and striking, she has a way with words and a way with sound that is both comforting and confronting. Like all my best friends do of me, ‘How Much Does Your Love Cost?’ and all of Thelma’s music inspires me and comforts me and ultimately, I can’t ask more than that. (Jo Michelmore)

Another artist that built off a big 2013 to have a massive 2014 was Thelma Plum. 'How Much Does Your Love Cost?' is like an Ennio Morricone inspired pop romp that could only work with a singer that rocks an attitude like only Plum can. Released as the first single to be taken from the Monsters EP, 'HMDYLC' had all that attitude we came to love on tracks like 'Around Here' and 'Dollar', but no swears this time around. La di da, di da, di da da... (bleep) you? Instead, she's not afraid to declare she's, "the best thing you ever had, but you're too busy burning fires." And then you can just picture her muttering, "fuck you," under her breath. Anyway, Thelma Plum stepped up the excitement in a big way on 'HMDYLC'. It's one song I just can't seem to get sick of listening to, no matter how many times I hear it. We already knew that Thelma Plum was insanely talented. This just kicked it up another notch, which we didn't even know was possible. Let's hope there's a debut, full length album in 2015 so we can hear more. Please? (Matt Bond)

#1. U-HUH
by Tkay Maidza

So don't be near if you be low on the paper,
You can save it for later,
'Cause we don't tolerate broke behaviour. 

Can Tkay Maizda do anything wrong? Well, I’m no fortune teller, but I am a bit of a gambler and if I had to bet, I’d say no. Put all my cash on no. You’re only going to have to hear one of her tracks to know, but what is it that makes her so good? Is it the beats that call you from the floor that demand to be danced to? Is it the production and the smooth ways of synths and samples that twist their way around your brain and make you nod your head in every song? Is it the rhymes, Tkay’s way with words that are strong, forceful, not to be messed with but never threatening that make me love her so much? I really don’t know. I do know that Tkay has become such a feature in my world this year, for every sad song I adored there was Tkay, ready to make me smile for every broken heart there was a “chitty bang bang” and for every “uh” there was a “huh”. Bets on she’ll be in our 115 of 2015 next year? I bet yes. I’m no fortune teller, but I know with tracks like this she’s got a long, long career ahead of her and we look forward to dancing, nodding, stomping and singing with her for a long time to come. (Jo Michelmore)

Chitty bang bang, chitty bang bang, chitty bang bang, chitty bang bang. That's right, Tkay Maidza has chitty bang bang-ed it all the way to #1 and takes the title of Song of the Year - 2014! After leaving us wanting more by stomping like a brontosaurus last year, Tkay pulled out all the stops over the last twelve months to make sure we won't be forgetting the name Tkay Maidza anytime soon. There was the Switch Tape EP, which had two of our other fave songs of the year, 'Switch Lanes' and 'Finish Them'. And then there was 'U-Huh', which had us declaring Maidza the new Queen of Cool as she paved her own way with this unique blend of rap/hip hop/electronic/hipster approved pop goodness. When the opening beats of Tkay rang out at BIGSOUND Live, the entire crowd jumped in unison. One listen and it's ingrained in your psyche that this is a song you need to dance to. Just go with it. You might be dancing poorly and with minimal rhythm, but this is a song that demands to be danced to. Oh, and be prepared to start screaming out, "chitty bang bang," as loud as you can. That's a whole lot of fun too. I'm trying to resist the urge to go full blown fan gurl here, but why fight it? This is our song of the year! It's infectious, irresistible and the song that made us the most excited about what the future's going to bring for music. It made us beyond happy, it made us dance and it made us fans for life of one Tkay Victoria Maidza. The only direction is up for the Queen of Cool. U-Huh. (Matt Bond) 

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