Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Top 20 Songs of 2014

With the stale taste of the Grammy's still bouncing around my mouth, I need to get out the Big Sexy Songs of 2014. Kayne will not be rushing the stage when these winners are announced, but it isn't because Beyonce is getting a BS Statuette. He is gonna lemme me finish.

2014 had some good musical breakthroughs and some welcome returns of old favorites. What is didn't have was any true hits in my estimation. It wasn't easy for me to pair down my top 40 to a top 20 nor was it easy to rank any of the top songs. Any of the top 10 songs could be #1 based on my mood during the day. Alas, someone needs to reign supreme in the land of Big Sexy. This year, that title goes to:

1. Seven Nights Seven Days – The Fratellis

Fave Lyric: I’ll be the comeback kid, on his way home from hell.

Fave Lyric #2: Show me the way brother. Give me a sign sister. I’m not the only one that’s waiting to be born.

What do you know, a fun mime video! You don’t see that every year. Such a welcome comeback by The Fratellis. I loved their debut LP back in 2006 even though I could barely make out the lyrics of this Scottish band. Their second album seemed like it was over produced and the rawness that I love from the band was missing. Then they disappeared. I thought they were gone forever, unless the Chicago Blackhawks scored a goal. 5 years later they are back with the original swagger and really, just the fun that I first loved from them. Check out the whole album, We Need Medicine.

2. Do It with a Rockstar – Amanda Palmer

Fave Lyric: Do you wanna dance, do you wanna fight. Do you wanna get drunk and stay the night. Do you wanna know all the things I do. Do you wanna, do you wanna, do you wanna, do you, do you, do you..”

Followed up later with: Wait, wait, wait. I’ll be fine in a minute.

Amanda Palmer is very theatrical. She is the wife of author Nail Gaiman, who is also a bit odd. I’m not sure what I would think of this song if my first introduction is from the video. I heard the song many times before I saw the video and her unsightly armpits.

My interpretation from the song is that she is a rockstar, out on tour, and is very, very lonely and depressed. She is craving love and attention. She wants him (her?) to come home with her. She will sex him if that is what it takes to have him come home with her. They can talk. They can cry. He can hit her. Whatever. She gets more and more desperate as the song goes along. He is seeing more and more that she is crazy and a bad idea. She sells that he can tell everyone he had sex with a rock star. He’s been giving her all sorts of excuses - his animals are all alone, there’s chicken waiting on the stove, he needs to charge his phone. 

3. The Feast and the Famine – Foo Fighters

Fave Lyric: Where’s is that PMA?

Another great album by who I could probably call my favorite band. They consistently put out good music and Dave Grohl is probably my celebrity man crush. This song is the most rocking song from Sonic Highways. I really wanted to love the HBO series Sonic Highways and I did like it. The best episodes were the ones that specifically influenced Dave, like this one from Washington DC, near where he was raised. I wanted all of them to be like that. My only other knock on the songs from this album are that they feel like Mad Libs. Dave would stick phrases that his interview subjects mentioned during the episode into the song. I feel songs should be more from the heart and mean something personal. It makes the Foos seem more like a song producing machine than I would like to envision my artists. Either way, this song rocks. 

4. Gotta Get Away – The Black Keys

Fave Lyric: I went from San Berdo to Kalamazoo, just to get away from you.

The Black Keys typically have a cool video. This song set to The Addams Family dancing, I do not think is the official video, but it will do. The song is the last song on a bit of an uninspiring album for me. I had big hopes, but only a couple songs stood out for me. I may need to listen to it more. Their refusal to cow to the demands of Spotify made it harder to for me to enjoy since I am now one of the many drones main lining Spotify. Spotify or GTFO.

5. Snap Out of It – Arctic Monkeys

Fave Lyric: I wanna grab both your shoulders and shake, baby, snap out of it.

This album ended up #2 on the 2013 Big Sexy Album list, but I may have listened to this album more than any other in 2014. This song is a little bit more radio friendly than any of their other songs. I originally thought it was that he loves his significant other but she is driving him crazy with her crazy. The more I hear it, the more I think that the singer is talking to a friend that is in love with someone else and he wants him/her to snap out of it so they can hang again. Either way, awesome song.

6. Trainwreck 1979 – Death From Above 1979

Fave Lyric: Cuz I want it all. I can’t get enough.

Years ago, when I just started getting into the heavy electronica rock that is Death From Above 1979, the two member Canadian band up and disbanded on me. I was stuck listening to their first EP and LP over and over while I conquered the elliptical machine. I am so psyched they’re back! I think the new album is a little more accessible than their older stuff, but it still grinds. I’m glad the video shows these guys all sweaty on the stage because that’s how I always pictured them, in a small, hot area, banging heads. 

7. Out of the Black – Royal Blood

Fave Lyric: Don’t breathe when I talk because you haven’t been spoken to.

Fave Lyric #2: I got a gun for a mouth and a bullet with your name on it.

A finalist for Big Sexy New Band of 2014, Royal Blood is just some good old fashioned rock and roll. It is what I would call hard alternative. He seems pretty angry here, but this song kicks all the asses. Royal Blood is a two man band from England, but they sound very American to me. 

8. Who Needs You – The Orwells

Fave Lyric: You better join the army. I said, ‘No thank you, dear old Uncle Sam’.

This young band from Chicago has come on real strong at the end of 2014. Disgraceland is an LP in heavy rotation with me right now. This song has a Strokes feel to them but this album shows a bit of diversity.  The leader singer is kind of an odd ball on stage based on some live clips I've seen. Who Needs You is a pretty happy, quick tune for one that might considered an anti-America song. My take is that is it about loving your family above your country and it’s wars, but there are only about 10 lines in the whole song so who knows. 

9. I’m Not Part of Me – Cloud Nothings

Fave Lyric: I'm not telling you all I'm go through. I'll be fine. 

Back to the crunchy guitar chords and angsty singing of the Cloud Nothings. I really liked their last album but really haven’t listened too much of the new one yet. I love this front single though. It’s a catchy punky song. I think the song is about putting his past behind him and being a new person now that he doesn't have the other person that was a part of him. He’s no longer that part of himself. 

10. Sea of Love – The National

Fave Lyric: Hey Jo, sorry I hurt you but, they say love is a virtue, don’t they.

I love Matt Berninger’s baratone voice. It really accentuates his sorrowful lyrics. This song goes the other way for The National. This time, the singer is the dumper not the dumpee. That’s a pretty cold break up lyric up above to tell someone that loves you but you don’t feel the same way. 

11. Whisky Saga – The Fratellis

Fave Lyric: Here lies the remains of every girl I have loved.

Fave Lyric #2: Pitchforks pointed my way and it’s no coincidence.

I told you I loved this album! This another fun, almost a rockabilly song from The Fratellis. I couldn't keep this song off the Top 20. It is just makes me too happy. 

12. Lazarreto – Jack White

Fave Lyric: When I say nothing, I say everything.

I have loved Jack White for a long time now. This song is as good as I would expect from him. Nice, squealing guitar break in the middle, right before a slow down. A little electric violin. I like the Spanish thrown in near the beginning, even though I don’t know what it or the song even means. Keep rocking you pale freak. 

13. I Won’t Let You Down – Ok Go

Fave Lyric: Maybe all you need is someone to trust, maybe all you need is someone.

Another fun choreographed video from the kings of it. But I liked the song before I ever saw the video. Just a happy, positive song. Nothing too deep. Just happy.  

14. Hometown Girls – The Strypes

Fave Lyric: I reek of sweat and teenaged innocence.

It’s the Beatles 50 years on. Except these guys are all teenagers, with fast rock songs. I can hear girls screaming in the background when I hear them. Nice guitar solo in the middle of the song. These kids sing about being shy around girls but I bet they are pulling just fine. 

15. Fancy – Iggy Azalia w/ Charlie XCX

I almost hate myself for how much I like this song. Complete guilty pleasure. I don’t like Iggy Azalia in general or her butt implants. I think it is that synth beat that runs through the whole song. When those first 5 beats hit before any other music, I have a good feeling. I would like to assume they know they cannot drive from LA to Tokyo, but I wonder. 

16. Rumble and Sway – Jamie N Commons

Fave Lyric: Don’t tell me no truths, I want all of your lies.

Nice funky little number here. Very soulful voice on this white boy. This song sounds very old school. 

17. I Wanna Get Better – Bleachers

This is a pretty popular song and my Venn Diagram of songs that are very popular and songs that I really like is usually pretty slim. This is just an uplifting song for me with a good beat and a nice guitar break. Hard to not love the infectious, dun-dun-dun-dundun, pounding on the keys. 

18. Washing Dishes – Jack Johnson

Fave Lyric: Who took the time and where did they take it?

I mentioned the Foo Fighters consistency earlier and the same can be said for Jack Johnson. This is just a pretty love song on a guitar that makes me think of being at the beach. He keeps doing it, so I’m going to keep praising him. 

19. Twerk It Like Miley – Brandon Beal

Here’s a cool and funky beat beneath a pop culture reference. I DJ/announce for our high school football team and dropped the first 60 seconds of the song during a timeout. The head of the cheerleaders came up and told me that this song was inappropriate. I say, at least, at this part of the song, he is just seeing a girl on the dance floor. Hey, I don’t come to your work and knock the dicks out of your mouth. I didn’t play it again despite seeing all the suggestive moves she was teaching for the halftime show. 

20. Left Hand Free – alt-J

Alt-J is sliding into Dave Matthews territory for me. I very much think I should like them, but I’m having a hard time embracing them. They have been mentioned in the same vein as Radiohead, but aside from being British, I have a hard time making too much of a connection. I do like the funky twang working in this song. It is by far my favorite song of theirs. However, this song barely slides onto the Top 20 of this year. 

21. Cubs in Five – The Mountain Goats

I had to add a #21 because I couldn't get this song out of my head all year. Maybe it isn't TOp 20 worthy, but try to get the chorus out of your head. I already talked a lot about this song in a previous post, so I won’t here. It is a hard song to get out of your head if you can get past the poor production quality. This is an almost 20 year old song showing up on my top songs of 2014, but I listened to this over and over this year, so here it is.  You've never heard it anyway.

Honorable Mention:

I said it was hard for me to narrow it down. These barely made the list and on some days should be on it. I loved them all at one time or another through the year. Presented in no particular order...

Dangerous - Big Data

Miracle Mile - Cold War Kids

Underworld - Brody Dale

Wait a While - The Hold Steady

Like a Fool - Kiera Knightly 

To Hell With Good Intentions - McKlusky

Tell Her - Rizzlekicks

Rent I Pay - Spoon

Fever - The Black Keys

There it is! 30 songs that all get the Big Sexy seal of approval. 2015 is already starting strong. I hope to have an equally hard time paring the list at the end of the year.

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