Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Pop Candy Arcade Playlist: 100 Most Excellent Songs of 2014, 26-50

The journey continues. On this New Year's Eve, I present for your consideration part two of my 2014 song list.  It would have been nice to have this wrapped up before the calendar turns over, but let's be real: there's no way that's going to happen.  This is slow going, decisions are still being made, and so it is. 

26. Copeland w/Actress / "advice to young girls" Let's be very clear about one thing, this is not Copeland the emo band. This is Inga Copeland/Alina Astrova, former half of Hype Williams, and the track is a weird ambient collection of electronic clicks, scrapes, refreshes, and the occasional ringing telephone. Through it all, monotone advice is doled out, and somehow it manages to feel as important as it is eerie.

27. Caribou / "Silver"  Oh hey, more Caribou. Remember when I told you there'd be more Caribou? There will probably still be more Caribou.  That build up, though.

28. Drake / "0 to 100 / The Catch Up"  Drizzy delivers the boastful jams, informing everyone that he goes "0 to 100" real quick.  The meaning seems to fluctuate as the lyrics turn, but one thing is clear: yes, Drake can produce an albumless song out of nowhere and emerge from his chill to go zero to 100.

 29. Tinashe ft. Schoolboy Q / "2 On" Tinashe snuck onto last year's list with "Vulnerable," and honestly, I wasn't sure we'd hear from her again. She was the type of mixtape artist who occasionally drops below the radar until record labels figure out how to make her work, but instead, she emerged, and delivered first the solid "2 On" then Aquarius.  Both continue her sound, and "2 On" is comfortably old school.

30. Ariana Grande ft. The Weeknd / "Love Me Harder"  Most Ariana Grande tracks exhaust me, I'll be honest, but I unapologetically adore "Love Me Harder" from beginning to end. It follows the right rhythms, boasts impossibly polished production, and - like all the best pop songs - spikes R-rated content into its bubblegum.

31. Prince / "U KNOW"  The Purple One returned to Earth this year, re-signed with Warner Bros, and brought along a better assortment of tracks than he's produced in awhile. "U KNOW" is slinky and arrogant, filled with all the Princely signatures his fans love.

32. Run the Jewels ft. Diane Coffee / "Crown"  Mike and El-P dig deep on "Crown" to throw down one true story and one slightly less provable, and though the track has gravity, it also manages to have surprising swagger.

33. Mr. Twin Sister / "In the House of Yes"  Mr. Twin Sister is the reincarnation of Twin Sister, who haven't been spotted around these parts since 2010.  The lineup of the band remains the same, but the direction seems more certain. Where in the past they'd been a sort of space pop, this album goes straight toward an ambient disco/lounge sound that suits them quite nicely.

34. Beyonce ft. Nicki Minaj / "Flawless Remix"  The original was on last year's list, but the remix is a completely different animal.  This version is slightly deconstructed, just a little more in your face, and boasts that all important retort to haters: "of course sometimes shit goes down when there's a billion dollars in the elevator."

35. La Roux / "Let Me Down Gently" If you're thinking this will be more "Bulletproof", forget it. This is a surprisingly sultry, cinematic track that stretches itself to one long moment of silence, and then explodes.  This is music for late night city driving, preferably near a lot of neon.

36. Shamir / "I Know It's a Good Thing" Shamir is the one to watch on this list, I'd argue. The 19-year old has only a handful of tracks out in the world, but all of it works. He's got the voice, somewhere between Prince and The Weeknd, and the beats to match.

37. Usher / "Good Kisser" Leave it to Usher to write a song about blow jobs that's this catchy. I mean, really. This is ridiculous.

38. Kendrick Lamar / "i" Kendrick pulls a sample from the Isley Brothers and throws down a slew of positive affirmations.  After this year?  We'll take it.

39. Royksopp & Robyn / "Sayit"  Drastically different in tone from "Monument," this track plows through six minutes like it's got a vendetta.  Another great use of a moment of silence, too.

40. Kiesza / "Hideaway"  (Note: on the 8Tracks playlist the site keeps subbing a different track in for this song. I have no idea why, input the right file, etc.  Excuse it).  A pitch perfect dance track.

41.Vic Mensa / "Down On My Luck" Chicago house meets Chicago hip hop in a track that should have been all over the radio here, but was curiously absent.

42. Charli XCX / "Boom Clap" The best part of The Fault in Our Stars was undoubtedly this pop confection. This is one of those songs that speaks to first loves so, so well.

43. Courtney Barnett / "History Eraser" Barnett's songs are all rambling, semi-neurotic stories of fairly mundane situations that become somehow interesting when she sings them.  "History Eraser" is no exception.

44. Lana Del Rey / "Shades of Cool"  Say what you will about her, LDR has her own sound and knows where her voice works. No one can draw out syllables in quite the way she does, and her songs transport the listener to a place out of time.

45. Hundred Waters / "Murmurs" Some bands just seem made for All Songs Considered to fixate on a little too much. Hundred Waters is one of those; a quiet group from Florida who seem to pull from some dreamy combo of The Cocteau Twins and contemporary R&B.

46. Mica Levi / "Love"  Whether or not you agree with Under the Skin's rank near the top of so many year-end film roundups, you likely made note of the score.  Levi uses strained, dreamy strings and long notes to construct music that matches the film's character as much as it adds to her journey.

47. The Twilight Sad / "Last January" So that angsty part of you is looking for an appropriately dramatic rock song to mope to, is it?  Here you go. This is the thing you want.

48. St. Vincent / "Bring Me Your Loves" Again, this is a perfectly polished bit of shredding. Annie Clark is a rock god, clearly, even when the recording reigns it in and harnesses the energy.  Also, pretty fun to do at karaoke.

49. Flying Lotus ft. Kendrick Lamar / "Never Catch Me"  Kendrick's style is a good match for the skipping, meandering repetitions Flying Lotus tends to work with, and he rattles off rhymes over layered beats in a way that seems to streamline the flow of the disparate elements.

50. Aphex Twin / "minipops 67 [120.2] [source field mix]  I feel like Richard D. James makes classical music for robots. I'm pretty sure that's what Aphex Twin does. It's hard for his comeback to sound like he's out of touch, because I don't think we ever caught up to him in the first place. FUTURE MUSIC.

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