10. "Push Pull" - Purity Ring (New Entry)
I guess it's pretty easy to talk about the aural aesthetic that Purity Ring inhabit, perhaps even yearn the resurrection of mindie even in an electropop fashion, but really what makes this song so endlessly compelling is how simple it sounds both in terms of lyrics and sound while actually masking what may be the year's best pure pop song writing.
9. "Benz Friendz (Whatchutola)" - Future feat. Andre 3000 (NE)
Though this spot could just as easily go to "Move That Dope," But damn if Andre 3000's verse isn't something pretty fucking special. But what puts everything over the top is how it juxtaposes with Future's brilliant work. I'm still not sure if Andre 3000's wordplay, basically running with an extended metaphor throughout his entire verse, is even better than Future's work. That jump from the more literary aspects to "That worldwide pussy, yeah, worldwide pussy/Pull up to this girl crib bumpin' Lil Boosie, yeah" is pretty much incredible.
8. "Fine, Great" - Modern Baseball (+2)
Something about local pride or whatever. I probably made that joke the past two times too. Anyway, what was initially so strong about this song, the idea of vulnerability and how one grapples with the repercussions of the past is what has solidified it, despite the near year between first hearing it. The opening line is so simple, yet so powerful. It's a raw strength that few songwriters capture at any point and here it is right up front.
7. "Black Quarterback" - Death Grips (No Change)
2014 sadly saw the end of Death Grips. I mean they will release the second half of this album, so there's a chance it's not the last we see of them on this list, but even if this was the real note of finality, it's one well worth experiencing. Though it pains me to not be able to list "Have A Sad Cum" as the best song, there's this energy to "Black Quaterback" that kind of reminds me of The Money Store but blends it with the musical evolution of Government Plates. It will be a huge loss, but at least Death Grips went out with a bang.
6. "Attak" - Rustie feat. Danny Brown (NE)
Talk about a pulsating beat. Seriously. Talk about it. I'll give you some time. Okay, enough clowning around. While it is easy to admire the production of this track, Danny Brown absolutely murdering it is what elevates it. Though I wasn't huge on all the directions that Brown went with Old, when he displays his raw lyrical talent it's a fucking delight. Not to fault him for his evolution as an artist, but damn if this song doesn't bring the energy in a way that few other artists can ever hope to match. When dressed with this kind of production, it's almost not fair.
5. "3Jane" - EMA (+3)
Part of me feels bad picking the most "California"-esque song from EMA's sophomore album, but FUCK is "3Jane" one Hell of a song! EMA's voice, as usual, is transfixing and arresting, dominating the song in a way that could easily wash away the lyrics if they were not as chilling as the delivery itself. The perspective with which EMA ruminates on modern technological artistry is on full display here, but I'm getting ahead of myself, I guess. There is an albums list coming up to consider.
4. "Hot Nigga" - Bobby Shmurda (NE)
Undeniably the anthem of 2014, Bobby Shmurda's "Hot Nigga" isn't incredibly flashy, not exactly complex, but endlessly fascinating. It's that surge of lightning that every year seems to have, coming from the most unexpected of places. Crown it this year's "Versace" or whatever you want, Shmurda's "Hot Nigga" isn't just a song of the summer, it's one of the songs of the year.
3. "Problems" - Migos and Young Thug (+1)
In a year so filled with the majesty that is Young Thug, how does one only pick a single song? What about "Old English?" How about "Dresser?" I mean "Clap Your Hands" is pretty great too. But the pairing of Thugger Thugger with Migos (not their only work together from 2014, but definitely the best) is far too much to resist. From Thug's chorus to his verse, to the energy that the members of Migos bring, it's a full on rush from start to finish packed to the brim with quotable lines, all seemingly better than the last.
2. "Tree Of Life" - Ab-Soul (No Change)
Have I made a Terrance Malick joke in reference to this song title before? I sure hope so. Much like Malick's tour-de-force, Ab-Soul's lead single from his latest album showcases the artist at his finest. TDE's best lyricist by a wide margin, Ab-Soul continues to toy with simplistic jargon of 'enlightenment' and pair it perfectly with true moments of introspection and realization. I am constantly in awe of how he delivers lines, and the way this entire song folds in upon itself to the wonderful crescendo. "With a dollar and a dream, why you think money is green? The color of vegetation, the most important thing. Trees." That is Ab-Soul.
1. "Words I Don't Remember" - How To Dress Well (No Change)
From the moment I heard this song I knew it would be a tall order for anything else to live up to it. The profound effect it had, and continues to have, on me is immense. From the opening lines to the extended instrumental closing, it's difficult not to get lost in the yearning, in the passion, in the majesty that is "Words I Don't Remember." Even the title itself is so perfect in the context of the song. The difference between "don't" and "can't" is minor, but is also so important to realizing the true depth of emotion. "Can't" is an impossibility, while "don't" is more personal, an active role almost. They are there, but has either not been appreciated in the time and are lost, or are perhaps not forgotten but lying dormant somewhere. It's late and I'm rambling, hopefully that doesn't sound like nonsense.
And, of course, a few honorable mentions:
"URL Badman" - Lily Allen
"Cut Her Off (Freestyle)" - Kevin Gates
"I Don't Sell Molly No More" - ILOVEMAKONNEN
"Fuck KD" - Lil B
"Birth In Reverse" - St. Vincent
"All About That Bass" - Meghan Trainor
"Black" - The-Dream
"New Atlanta" - Migos, Young Thug, Rich Homie Quan, and Jermaine Dupri
There we have it. I'm sure I inevitably missed something, but that's just the way it goes. I need to be more diligent about keeping everything in one place next year. Agree? Disagree? Did I miss something? Let me know in comments and keep on the look out for more music things as well as my favorite games, (possibly) TV shows, and all sorts of film related lists in the near future!
Comments are welcome and, for anyone with a literary mind, I encourage checking out my poetry blog filled with all original works for your reading pleasure.
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© 2015 Richard James Thorne