Monday, 8 December 2014

Top 114 Songs of 2014, #60 - 51

Taylor Swift, Sharon Van Etten, The War on Drugs + Sam Smith!


It's been raining here for days,
And I can feel these drops on my weary face. 

It’s so hard to write words about songs that become more than songs to you. They’re not just notes and chords, they aren’t just words in tune and they’re more than just a collection of sounds. Some songs are a comfort, they are a sense of security, they are a memory and an experience and they are the things that get you through the days as you’re waiting for the sun to set, waiting for the sun to rise, they are the things that remind you to breathe when it’s all too hard. They sometimes become your life line, they become a definition of a time and an experience and they become a reflection of yourself. Some songs are more than songs. Some songs are the best of friends. (Jo Michelmore)

by Sam Smith

And deep down I know this never works,
But you can lay with me so it doesn't hurt.

It would only be too easy to think men dropped off the face of the pop music planet in 2014. Oh, yes... it was a banner year for the women of pop and they totally dominated. But one male artist did have a massive breakout year on the charts, both commercial and critical, and that was the UK's Sam Smith. Marketed as the dude version of Adele, he took the song 'Stay With Me' to the upper echelon of Top 40s all around the world. Of course, when you achieve something there's going to be those throwing shade your way. Smith copped it over being gay, white, not being a supermodel, not having the waistline of a supermodel and more. Do you think he gives a flying fuck? I highly doubt it. At the end of the day, the only thing that should matter is the quality of the music. And Sam Smith more than delivered with 'Stay With Me', one of the most successful tracks of 2014. (Matt Bond)  

So you’re a white guy Sam Smith? Yep. So you’re a gay guy Sam Smith? Yep. So you’re an average sized guy Sam Smith? Yep. And your name is Smith, Sam Smith? So you’re an average sized, white gay guy with an average name, Sam Smith? Yep. Sometimes I get really angry at the world I exist in. Because sometimes some people can be incredibly ignorant and harsh and just plain stupid. Listen to this song again. See? All of the things I mentioned don’t matter at all, no matter how many times they are discussed or googled or read about. All that matters are the things that matter, like love and longing and all the things that Sam Smith sings about in not so many words in one of the most beautiful pop songs of this year. Sometimes the only thing that makes sense to me is the music I listen to.  And sometimes, most times, that’s all I need. (Jo Michelmore)

by Ingrid Michaelson ft. A Great Big World

Maybe if I tell myself enough, maybe if I do,
I'll get all over you...

For fans of singer-songwriters, they who believe that the words are just as important as the music, Ingrid Michaelson and A Great Big World teaming up must have been something of a dream come true. It was for me. Ingrid Michaelson has won a legion of fans throughout the globe for her stirring lyrics and beautiful melodies, while A Great Big World burst onto the scene late last year with the monster hit ballad, 'Say Something'. That the result of the two acts letting their powers combine was an experience as perfect as 'Over You' really wasn't a surprise. These are musicians that know all the tricks to send you on an emotional rollercoaster. They're even going all Pachebel's Cannon-ish on us, which is like emotional trolling. Why do you think you hear Michaelson's tracks on every damn TV show? Because her music makes you feel something. And generally that feeling is sadness, but as I've repeatedly mentioned, I'm a sucker for a sad, sad song and they make me weirdly happy. 'Over You' is a song and a story I just can't get sick of, no matter how much I listen. (Matt Bond)  

I wish I didn’t relate so much. I wish I didn’t hear every single key on that piano. I wish I didn’t hear the feeling in every single one of those words. I wish I couldn’t feel those strings. I wish I wasn’t so transparent. I wish I didn’t let things bother me so much some days. I wish I didn’t know exactly what those words meant “I’m falling around you”. I wish all of these things, but then maybe I don’t, because if I wished them all away I wouldn’t have this feeling of absolute adoration of a song that brings a tear with every single listen and that’s a feeling I don’t ever want to go away. (Jo Michelmore)

by Sharon Van Etten

You like it when I let you walk over me,
You tell me that you like it,
Your love is killing me.

It's come to my attention that this particular edition of our countdown might be a little bit depressing. Well, I brought it to my own attention doing write-ups for the last three songs and then I got here to Sharon Van Etten's showstopping track, 'Your Love Is Killing Me' and realised the mood might be getting a little somber around these parts. Oh well, if you're not into your moving, sad-o numbers... you'll get over it. I'm not the one with the problem here. 'Your Love Is Killing Me' is what music is all about. An artist truly cutting loose and telling a story that can come painfully close to mirroring a story of your own. Sometimes it comes with a harrowing vocal performance that sets your heart racing. This is one of those times. (Matt Bond)

Alright then. You wanna pick up my heart and chuck it on the floor? You wanna have a little stomp on it while you’re there? Go ahead, throw some Sharon Van Etten on. You don’t even have to find my heart, I’ll take it out and give it to you just so it doesn’t beat so desperately anymore. Some despairing piano, some marching desperate drums and that voice, the sound of hopeless and inconsolable misery, ‘Your Love Is killing Me’ is every desperate moment I’ve had picked up and rolled into song and you know what it is? It’s beautiful is what it is. Beautiful and painful and beautiful, which are sometimes one and the same thing. (Jo Michelmore)

#56. COLD
by Winterbourne

Life goes by I'm lessening,

If you were after a couple of guys doing catchy indie-pop songs these days, you’d have literally* a million to choose from (*when I say literally, I don’t mean literally, I haven’t counted. Literally in the way the kids use literally these days, which means not actually literally, just mostly very heartfelt) but you get my point, there’s a lot of bands making sweet indie pop sounds at the moment. What you don’t always get with those million bands is the honesty, the life lessons and the feelings of warm, cosy comfort with each chord and every lyric. Those kind of feelings only come with the best of those indie-pop guys and with tracks like ‘Cold’ Winterbourne are proving that they are some of those indie pop guys who are literally* just the best. (Jo Michelmore) 

Two guys with guitars, big dreams and big voices. Winterbourne have taken their music from the streets of Sydney, where they've honed their craft as buskers, and out into the world. And what a song to introduce themselves to a much bigger audience. 'Cold' is another embraceable folk-revival tune that puts Winterbourne in the company of another of our favourite acts, Little May. A slow burn of an opening that reels you in with emotive lyrics that tell a story in your head with perfect harmonies. Everything's going along nicely and then the pace picks up, the music gets that little bit louder and you find your foot tapping along uncontrollably. A lot like many of Little May's tracks. No wonder both acts are just finishing up a tour together. Anyway, the sound is exciting and makes you want to hear more of 'Cold' and of Winterbourne. Another act to add to our 'must watch' list for 2015. (Matt Bond)

by The War On Drugs

And you don't go home,
But you abuse my faith.

I'm not going to lie to you, I had never heard of The War On Drugs before 'Red Eyes' came along. Get over yourself, neither had you, you hipster wankfest. Stop pretending you're cool. If you're still with us, let's have a chat about how fantastic this song is. It's Arcade Fire's The Suburbs meets 80s power-Springsteen-ish rock. Don't you feel like you were born to run? I do. Adam Granduciel's lyrics are like a stream of consciousness being hurled onto paper, a running commentary of heartache that's wisely masked behind an incredibly catchy indie-rock song to make it more digestible. I might not have heard of The War on Drugs before 'Red Eyes', but I'm going to make sure I know all about them from here on in. (Matt Bond)   

The clip for ‘Red Eyes’ is like this pseudo talent contest type situation, where the band sit down and watch a lady dancing, a smoking clown, a tragic musician, a hoola hooper (is that what they’re actually called?) and a tiny little guitarist all audition to be a member of their band. Each of the band members holds up a card with a cross or a tick on it for each contestant. Only one wins, as is the case with most of these things. The thing is, I wonder how the contestants would judge the band if the situation were reversed? Well I’m saying four giant ticks, because ‘Red Eyes’ is pretty darn likeable and if it’s a talent contest, I don’t even have to justify that, because my tick says it all. Tick! (Jo Michelmore)

by Clare Maguire

I don't wanna be alone, I just wanna have someone,
Who laughs at my shit jokes, won't break me when I'm already broken.

My mighty heart is breaking. Urgh, Clare Maguire... you are the bees knees, so damn fine and you're blowing my mind on 'Whenever You Want It'. You might remember Maguire from when she was a butt-kicking electro diva. That's changed. You might be able to tell by the lack of electronic sound on this track which is a piano ballad. If you noticed that, you are a big winner today. 'Whenever You Want It' is a big change, but Maguire shows she can comfortably reinvent herself as more of an acoustic singer-songwriter that knows a thing or two about penning relatable tales of heartache and pain and not wanting to be alone. I don't think anyone that listens to this and pays attention to the lyrics will be able to get away without being moved. Helping matters is Maguire's enchanting voice that makes a piano/vocal track sound so incredibly full. (Matt Bond)

There are points in your life that make up who you are. Moments that define you. You don’t always like to visit them, but they are there, following you around like shadows and sometimes they are shadows you never wish to see again. Sometimes something makes you face those clouds and make friends with them so that when they do visit, you’re ready for them. Those shadows tapped me on the shoulder when I heard ‘Whenever You Want It’ the first time. There they were, the simple piano notes and the words; “I don’t wanna be alone, I just wanna have someone”. The clouds crept in, making me sit up and take notice, forcing me to be uncomfortably calm with so many moments that describe me. I’ve still not made friends with those shadows, but when songs like Clare Maguire’s come along with words like  “…won’t break me when I’m already broken”, they make the shadows that visit a lot easier to face. (Jo Michelmore)


Do you think I'm good enough?
Never have been good enough.

Even though I'm 75% sure they were singing about incest when we stumbled upon them (Jo says 80%), BAD//DREEMS were one of our favourite finds at this year's BIGSOUND Live event. The large crowd assembled to see them were buzzing throughout the performance. They're effortlessly cool, don't seem to have any douche-y qualities and could be the rock band we deserve, not the one we need. Did I get that right? I think I stole it from Batman. Forget that last part, 'My Only Friend' falls somewhere between stoner rock, grunge and garage pop. Whatever they're doing, they're doing it well. (Matt Bond) 

#52. BURY ME
by JP Klipspringer

It comes each day, it drags you in,
It spits its blood, a summer wind... 

Like I said about Our Man In Berlin earlier and let’s be honest, like I’m going to say about someone else in the next 51 songs in our countdown, when I speak of 2014 and the things that blogging has bought me, I’m going to mention the artist responsible for number 52, because I couldn’t even count the number of times I’ve listened to this song and the number of times I’ve been glad I found JP Klipspringer. ‘Bury Me’ is one of those special songs that was all gold and glistening and like nothing I’d experienced before when I first heard it and it’s one of those songs that has never lost its shine, it is still now as goosebump inducing as it was back in March and I’m thinking it may stay that way for a very, very long time. It’s as sad as it is beautiful, as beautiful as it is uplifting and it’s one of my absolute favourites for 2014. (Jo Michelmore)

by Taylor Swift

I'm dancing on my own, I make the moves up as I go,
And that's what they don't know...

Is there anything here that I could cover that hasn't already been done? You know it all... Taylor Swift, biggest music star on the planet. Biggest album of the year. Two of the biggest songs of the year. Spotify slayer. Crossover superstar that mixed up the standard pop to country route American artists have been doing for sales over the past couple of decades. Victoria's Secret mega babe. We could throw in her previous achievements like that time she won the Grammy for Album of the Year? What haven't we been talking about? Her relationships. Her public image generated by gossip magazines. How lame Harry Styles is. How Lorde and her should be my best friends because I think we'd have heaps of fun together. Tay-Tay, T-Sweezy, T-Swift... she ain't got time for none of that, she doesn't have time for any hate and she's just going to shake it off... shake it off. But seriously Taylor, have a think about the best friends thing. #callme (Matt Bond)   

I had a theory about lil ol Taylor that I wrote about a few weeks ago. It was something along the lines of old Swifty being Shifty. Well, thems the facts, she was, she is. She’s also a really good pop star who sings really, really catchy pop songs. This is one of them. I stand by my original statement. But I also stand by this one; I love Taylor Swift. End. (Jo Michelmore)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Love it or hate it? Agree or disagree? Let me know what you think!