The Cream of the Crop:
10. Sia – “Chandelier”
Sia’s comeback single was originally written to be sung by Rihanna or Beyoncé, but the singer-songwriter kept it as her lead single from her album 1000 Forms of Fear. And even though she’s had a long, successful career, it may have been the song to finally make Sia a household name.
9. Michael Jackson – “Love Never Felt So Good”
I didn’t expect much from Michael Jackson’s second posthumous album Xscape, but first single “Love Never Felt So Good” was a pleasant surprise. And the JT duet was good, but the sans-Timberlake version is better.
8. Clean Bandit – “Rather Be”
With their mix of classic instruments and dance beats, Clean Bandit was definitely one of the best new artists to emerge this year. With four singles on the charts throughout 2014, their breakout track “Rather Be” may arguably still be the finest.
7. Beyoncé ft. Nicki Minaj – “Flawless Remix”
You put these two on a track, and it’s pretty much guaranteed to be a hit. And the reference to the elevator incident is just a bonus.
6. Sam Smith – “Stay With Me”
Yes, it may be a tad overplayed, but “Stay With Me” was definitely one of the best offerings of the year. Sam Smith can do no wrong, and I’m counting “Money on My Mind”.
5. Sigma – “Nobody To Love”
Let’s put the Wests’ “Bound 2” debacle to the side for a second, and just remember this song for what it is – one of this year’s best summer anthems.
4. Tove Lo – “Habits (Stay High)”
Tove Lo’s emotional post-breakup song, which was further popularized by the Hippie Sabotage remix, has been praised for its raw and candid lyrics, and has earned her the title of the saddest girl in Sweden. The artist was also featured on Alesso’s “Heroes (We Could Be)”, so I have hope she won’t just be a one-hit wonder.
3. Kiesza – “Hideaway”
Canadian singer Kiesza stormed the charts with this 90s-inspired electropop track back in the spring, and we’re still dancing to it. It remains one of the fastest-selling singles of the year.
2. Jeremih – “Don’t Tell ‘Em”
It seems like just as we’re about to forget his name, Jeremih resurfaces with another chart-topper. After his breakout single “Birthday Sex”, there was a gap until the release of another favourite “Down on Me”, and we’ve had to wait almost four years for another mainstream success. But the wait was worth it – this minimal track is genius.
1. Kendrick Lamar – “i”
Everything about this, from the theme and lyrics to the one-armed dance to that bass solo at the end, is terrific.
And the duds of 2014 are…
10. Calvin Harris – “Summer”
Calvin Harris’s vocals may have worked on “Feel So Close”, but they don’t work here; the single is listless and predictable and honestly, we could have done without it this year.
9. Justin Timberlake – “Not a Bad Thing”
2014 was altogether a disappointing year for Timberlake fans. The only single worth mentioning may have been accompanied by a heart-warming video, but the song itself was just too bland to be memorable otherwise.
8. Fergie – “L.A. Love (La La)”
So much for a comeback.
7. Redfoo – “New Thang”
It’s catchy, yes, but those lyrics, from the GoPro plug to the Santa line, are just unforgivable.
6. Maroon 5 – “Animals”
Adam Levine can sing, but in songs like this I wish he wouldn’t. And if I hear that wolf howl one more time, my nerves are going to shatter.
5. Fuse ODG ft Sean Paul – “Dangerous Love”
The African beats are making a comeback, but when it comes to the vocals… well, the only worse than Fuse ODG’s voice is that of Sean Paul.
4. Pitbull – “Wild Wild Love ft G.R.L.”
Pitbull has made a career of being a disgusting, albeit well-dressed, creeper. And chances are this girl group’s career is over before it began.
3. Katy Perry – “This Is How We Do”
Pop princess Katy Perry has climbed the charts with songs about an inch deep, but this one has even less substance. It’s a good thing she’s so charming.
2. Nicki Minaj – “Anaconda”
Nicki Minaj’s career is a rollercoaster. This year alone she’s taken us from the power play in “Lookin Ass” to the bubble-gum pop of “Bang Bang”, and back to the humble-brag in “Only”. And it’s all been enjoyable… except for this. This is trash.
1. Jennifer Lopez – “I Luh Ya Papi”
Jennifer Lopez may be beautiful, talented and successful, but you couldn’t tell from her 2014 singles: “Booty”, “First Love”, and “I Luh Ya Papi”… all quite terrible.
WE SAID THIS: Don’t miss last week’s For the Record: Best New Artists of 2014.