Listen Here: Best of 2014

Listen Here is a monthly playlist picked and curated by members of the Deadshirt staff around a certain theme. This month’s theme is “Best of 2014,” with a playlist selected by several Deadshirt staffers and curated by music editor Julian Ames.

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2015 is here and with it comes the promise of twelve whole months of great music. But before we let go of of 2014 for good, Deadshirt decided to compile a playlist of our favorite tracks from 2014. What follows is an extra-large playlist of 35 songs picked out by Dylan Roth, Madie Coe, Dominic Griffin, David Lebovitz, Mike Pfeiffer, Jen Overstreet, Sam Paxton, Haley Winters, Mike Duquette, Max Robinson, and Julian Ames. We hope you enjoy the playlist.

(Just a note: As evidenced by us voting her album our third best from 2014, we would have liked to include a Taylor Swift track on this playlist, but she pulled her catalog off of Spotify earlier this year, so 1989 is unfortunately unrepresented in the list below. Hopefully that doesn’t affect your enjoyment too much.)

“Uptown Funk” – Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
In case you missed 2014, old is new. This song is delicious fun funk and I’m okay if this groovy old school/new school hybrid never goes away. This song is all about shaking it in your basement on shag carpet with a jack and ginger. -Madie Coe

“Bang Bang” – Jessie J feat. Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj
Actually most of my favorite songs of this year sound like they’re from trailers for movies about girl gangs doing cool heists (Charli XCX’s “Break the Rules,” and “Problem” from Ariana Grande again with Igloo Australia) but “Bang Bang” is far and away the best one. The vocal acrobatics from J, Grande, and Minaj are total earworms even if they’re hard to sing along to, but this song REALLY kills it at the hook, which is seriously just a hornier version of WHAM!’s eternal “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go.” – Mike Pfeiffer

“Idle Delilah” – Azealia Banks
There’s a great flowing discordance in “Idle Delilah.” Melodic lines over bare layered beats transpose down to melody accompanied and mimicked by electric guitar at a not-quite-major interval, proceeding immediately into dissonant vocal chops, and so on. Banks weaves song and rap together, echoing drumbeats with consonants in tongue-twisting, tongue-tapping poetic filth. – Jen Overstreet

“No One Is Lost” – Stars
“If everyone’s lost, then no one is” is a heady concept for a club banger, but Stars has always had a knack for combining fun electro-pop sensibilities with romanticized philosophy. This glittery anthem is a great soundtrack for drunkenly stumbling down neon-soaked city streets with your friends at three in the morning, or a nice mantra when you’re cursing your damn hangover the next morning. – Sam Paxton

“I Wanna Get Better” – Bleachers
A perfect piece of pop rock from awkward indie prince Jack Antonoff, and an anthem for anyone who hasn’t given up on their own ability to grow. – Dylan Roth

“Habits (Stay High)” – Tove Lo
Easily one of the darkest pop songs you’ve ever Kidz-Bopped to in the car with all your girlfriends. Tove Lo led the Swedish charge onto the charts this year with this sexy, soulcrushing number. – Haley Winters

“None Of These Things” – Alex Dezen
The frontman for The Damnwells completed work on a new album (with all the original members!), due out in April, but was firing on enough cylinders to issue a quartet of solo EPs through the year. Even in a year full of love, there’s more than enough room for sad songs, and this was probably the best, weariest, and wittiest of them. – Mike Duquette

“Brooklyn Baby” – Lana Del Rey
I won’t disagree that Lana Del Rey songs all tend to blend into one another, but her delivery in “Brooklyn Baby” has the right hint of cynicism vs. bravado to make it stand out from the moody sonic atmosphere of 2014’s Ultraviolence. – Madie Coe

“Right Now” – Mary J. Blige
The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul has seen a dip in her popularity recently, so what better way to get back into the spotlight than teaming with the hottest electronic act of today? The pairing of Disclosure and MJB is inspired; Disclosure knows what the people want to dance to and Mary has the pipes to sell it. – Julian Ames

“Seasons (Waiting On You)” – Future Islands
My de facto “no fucking duh” choice for track of the year. I’d be hard pressed to think of another four minutes of sound from this year that so urgently demand your attention. Future Islands are kind of hometown heroes (Baltimore, baby!), and watching this song propel them to indie stardom this year has been great. If you haven’t heard this track from under whatever rock you call home, you should check out their electrifying Late Show performance right this minute. – Sam Paxton

“In Conflict” – Owen Pallet
The title track of Pallet’s latest album typifies its more electronic bent versus the orchestral bent of Heartland. “In Conflict” begins softly atmospheric, then builds up repetitive synth & instrumental voices on each other, building to an immersive, epic pop sound (with the softest bass drop in the world). – Jen Overstreet

“Body of My Own” – Charli XCX
“Okay, son, look: sometimes when a man loves a woman, but he’s not, uh, very gifted in the bedroom department, she’ll have to…take matters into her own hands, so to speak. Geez. [Rubs forehead.] Um, and then, you know, she’ll write a song about it. One that sounds like Horny Eighties Teen Madonna got abducted and dropped into an intergalactic strip club. Actually, go ask your mother.” – Sam Paxton

“I Don’t Wanna Be an Asshole Anymore” – The Menzingers
A pump-up song, not about being awesome, but about being less awful. It’s a song you can either jump around to in the pit or sing along to desperately, your eyes stuck shut with tears. Do not try to do both. That would be dangerous. – Dylan Roth

“Have You Seen My Son?” – Benjamin Booker
Benjamin Booker comes off like a worldly bluesman in this origin story-like song about traveling, religion, mothers and sons. The song chugs along with ferocious punk energy, and in the back half we get a spectacular drum freakout and some killer shredding. – Julian Ames

“Lady” – Stevie Nicks
Stevie’s still got it, mostly because she never lost it in the first place. A simple ballad with powerful vocals and imagery, “Lady” finds Stevie Nicks in pure form. We can all be thankful she pulled this one from the vault. – David Lebovitz

“New York, I Love It When You’re Mean” – Julian Velard
A native New Yorker with a penchant for throwback piano pop, Julian Velard’s newest album, If You Don’t Like It, You Can Leave, was an LP-length ode to all the pain and promise you can wring from the five boroughs. The album’s lead track captures why the city is often heaven and hell at the same time—and a place where the young and the hopeful will never leave, so long as they can afford the rent. – Mike Duquette

“NEW DORP, NEW YORK” – SBTRKT feat. Ezra Koenig
In collaboration with the Vampire Weekend frontman, SBTRKT offers the flashy concept New York life, the golden ideal you feel strutting through Manhattan in heels thinking about your life as a movie. A half-sung, half-chanted jazzy dance jam that beats a great anthem for getting through your day. – Jen Overstreet

“Jealous” – Nick Jonas
First of all, have you heard the non-radio version of this song? Because it uses some language that makes me blush. Actually, everything about Nick Jonas makes me blush these days, and I couldn’t be more pleased about it. Like his middle school ex-girlfriend Miley, Nick has made his dripping sexuality the focal point of his new image, dropping trou in racy photoshoots and specifically courting an LGBTQ fan base. And we are all the wetter better for it. – Haley Winters

“Johnny and Mary” – Todd Terje, feat. Bryan Ferry
Electronic producer Todd Terje proves less will probably always be more with this haunting slow-jam cover of a totally forgettable Robert Palmer track, with chill-inducing vocals from Roxy Music’s Bryan Ferry. – Dylan Roth

“Two Weeks” – FKA twigs
Scary, sexy electronic soul that also serves as a fitting signpost of the outside world. As weird, imperfect, beautiful, one-size-does-not-fit-all sex becomes the cultural norm, it was high time for a record to soundtrack the ecstatic weirdness happening inside our sheets. – Mike Duquette

“Look At Wrist” – Father feat. Key! & iLoveMakonnen
Basically the song that wasn’t there, it’s the most minimalist turn-up anthem of 2014, characterized more by purposeful silence and an air of fuck-giving deficiency, three of hip-hop’s buzziest up-and-comers trade barbs about the present state of coke rap. “Never had to whip a brick, but I get the gist.” – Dominic Griffin

“Trainwreck 1979” – Death from Above 1979
“So what if I can’t get enough?” Sebastien Grainger queries, and this punk rock duo hailing from Ontario certainly delivers in the single from their reunion album (released in September). Heavy breathing over driving guitar riffs? Yes, please. It was a fun time to see this band acoustic and live at DC 101. – Madie Coe

“High Ball Stepper” – Jack White
I don’t usually pay instrumentals no nevermind, but even without lyrics or the verse, chorus, verse, chorus, etc. structure, Jack White manages to grab me by the balls and hold my attention. I made the opening guitar riff, which sounds like something out of a punk rock cowboy movie, my ringtone because it sounds so cool. – Julian Ames

“Introducing the Icon” – RiFF RAFF
Every real boy has been waiting on Jody (RiFF RAFF, Neonardo DiCaprio, Kokayne Dawkins) Highroller to give us the big-budget big-label Aquaberry-flavored release the world needs, and the man née Horst “The white Gucci Man with a spray tan” Simco brought us the party in a Versace duffel bag. On an album studded with tracks I’ve been bumping since Neon Icon finally dropped in June, “Introducing the Icon” stands out as the one with the beat and the Off-the-Wall lines –
“Jinjitsu, eatin kung pow when the thunderstorm tornado sized symbol on my Guess jeans
You on the guest list? You wanna French kiss? I gotta double check your French tips
– that have made it absolutely necessary to getting psyched up for when I have to put the Versace Python Pile Driver on life itself. – Mike Pfeiffer

“Anaconda” – Nicki Minaj
Minaj makes a fun as hell collage out of a song I have High School Dance nostalgia from. There’s a tangible adrenaline to “Anaconda,” as her raps build into a frantic energy. It’s unabashedly filthy, visceral, and aggressive in Minaj’s best way, including my favorite bit wherein she just cackles extendedly. – Jen Overstreet

“Loving You” – Michael Jackson
Five years after his death, a fistful of outtakes from The King of Pop became Xscape, a surprisingly solid album featuring classic, unheard vocals married to driven, modern production from Timbaland, Stargate, and Darkchild. “Loving You,” cut from the running for Bad, could’ve been the roller-rink jam to beat in another age. – Mike Duquette

“Understand” – The Roots
An absolute gem from one of The Roots’ most understated albums, including strong guest verses by Dice Raw and Greg Porn. Something of an anti-hymn, “Understand” demonstrates how The Roots are still able to elevate hip-hop and neo-soul to new levels. – David Lebovitz

“Prince Johnny” – St. Vincent
Annie Clark’s secret weapon is her doe-eyed sensuality, brought to the forefront on St. Vincent like never before. On “Prince Johnny,” her vocals are the musical equivalent of a seductively bitten lip, lilting over a straight-up sexy groove. Throw this track on next time things are getting, uh, “romantical” with your boo; you’ll thank me later. – Sam Paxton

“0-100/The Catch Up” – Drake
To really understand the underlying pettiness behind the latest and greatest in a long line of Drake’s winning assertions that he is in fact the best and most important rapper alive, you have to realize that he
A) dropped it during Hot 97’s SummerJam to effectively steal the summer AND THE NEXT SPRING from a giant event he did not attend,
B) crafted the song from an instrumental allegedly earmarked for Sean Combs, leading to a physical altercation at a Miami nightclub months later,
C) earned a fucking Grammy nomination for a song he released for free on Soundcloud.
and D) ends five minutes of declaring his own greatness with an incredibly affecting James Blake-sampled outro.
It’s a grand statement from a rapper who’ll superkick a small child if that’s what it takes to stay on top. – Dominic Griffin

“Armida” – Lust For Youth
On one of the coolest songs of the year, Swedish post-punk group Lust For Youth channel New Order. The atmospheric synths, guest singer Soho’s ethereal voice, and the punchy synth bass lines recall the classic ’80s band and can keep heads bobbing through to next year. – Julian Ames

“This Could Be Us” – Prince
Prince rules, mainly because he’s the kind of dude who’ll lay down a track named after a *Twitter meme* and it’ll turn out really good and sexy. The sleeper jam of Art Official Age, “This Could Be Us” is The Purple One’s extraterrestrial ode to….lost love? The internet? Whatever, it doesn’t matter. – Max Robinson

“Take Me to Church” – Hozier
This was my mom’s favorite song of the year, one of the most anomalous hits on the Top 40. I don’t know what strange collision of events brought Hozier to the charts and not some smoky backroom hipster bar, but I’m sure glad he’s made it. – Haley Winters

“The British Are Coming” – Weezer
Oh, you laugh. “That weird nerd Rivers Cuomo wrote a song about Paul Revere? What a joke!” You are incorrect. This song is amazing and totally unironic, and so shall be your love for it. (Please include in a future Sleepy Hollow episode.) – Dylan Roth

“Archie, Marry Me” – Alvvays
This track approaches the Platonic ideal of a pop song: fizzy, sunny, instantly singable. Only a Canadian band could write a song so politely melancholy, as singer Molly Rankin asks her boyfriend to please reconsider his aversion to marriage. I logged a ridiculous amount of time blasting this on the highway with the windows down over the summer, and now I’m passing the savings on to you. – Sam Paxton

“Eddie’s Song” – King Tuff
This song about a loveable fuck up named Eddie has great energy; it’s bouncy and fun, probably similar to the person it was written about. The chorus of “who-oos” is so catchy that it’s bound to stick with you for a while. – Julian Ames

That’s Deadshirt’s hand-picked best songs from 2014 playlist – now, you tell us some of your favorite tracks from 2014. Comment below or hit us up on Facebook!

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