Some songs are really bad, but you can be assured that these are not.
1. ‘I Blame Myself’ – Sky Ferreira
You may recognise Sky Ferriera from having the best song of 2013 with ‘You’re Not The One’, the guitar-led euphoric-chorus containing lead single from her debut album, Night Time, My Time; a record that went through years of genre shifting and title changing before Ferreira dropped the whole thing in October 2013, transitioning herself from the former new Britney to a grunge-indie-pop goddess.
In a record filled with dark recollections and dirty guitar riffs, this song, ‘I Blame Myself’, signifies one of the album’s most pop moments. Squelchy synth beats mixed with a hip-hop backing track segue directly into Ferreira pondering her own bad reputation (it would be quite helpful to point out that last year she was arrested for being in possession of several ‘prohibited items’ would it not?). At the least it’s Ferreira being her most self-indulgent, at most it’s the pop-high point of an album far too concerned with slapping on a serious face and making heavy with the guitar.
2. ‘On My Way’ – Lea Michele
Oh, Lea Michele. The excitement for your (now released) album Louder hit a low point with the release of its lead single; ‘Cannonball’. A Sia-penned single that seemed like a cheap play for sympathy following the tragic events of the past year while also asking for an empowerment anthem when the time didn’t really call for it. What were we looking for, Lea?
But then on one dark night as the album downloads and you force yourself to listen to it…this song blasts out. And we’ve found it. What a triumph. The chorus simply explodes from your speaker/earphone (other listening devices are of course available) and reels you in to singing along. A marvelous moment for pop in 2014 and not just the single Lea Michele wants but the single she desperately needs.
Let’s just not mention that video shall we.
3. ‘Beloved’ – Say Lou Lou
Released late last year the B-side to the LouLou’s (twin sisters from Sweden and Australia don’t you know) single ‘Better In The Dark’ (which is also quite good if you want to give that a spin), this haunting, mesmerising piece of dark dream pop is simply exquisite. If you’re not convinced that this is one of the best songs you’ve heard in a while by the time that chorus hits, you’ll be nodding your head in a state of shock as that middle eight explodes.
Probably just too damn good to succeed commercially, this song proves Say Lou Lou deserved their place on the BBC Sound of 2014 poll.
And just think, if this is just a B side…what will the album hold?
4. ‘Let Me Down Gently’ – La Roux
It’s been a funny old 5 years for La Roux, the synth-pop duo headed up by ginger lead singer Elly Jackson, since their Grammy-winning debut dropped. Work on a follow-up stalked when Jackson and the second half of the duo, producer Ben Langmaid, split and Jackson lost her voice for a year due to stage fright.
But where there’s a will there’s a way and now La Roux – the One Woman Band – is back with a gloriously disco comeback non-single that bridges the gap between their 80’s influenced debut – including the chart-topping ‘Bulletproof’ – and their second album, Lost In Paradise. With all things considered, 2014 should be La Roux’s year.
5. ‘Seashells’ – Florrie
You may not have heard of Florrie Arnold, but you would have surely seen her as the model/singer featured in Nina Ricci’s perfume advert featuring her cover of ‘Sunday Girl’ by Blondie.
Making her name as the in-house drummer for Xenomania, the producers behind most of Girls Aloud’s exceptional discography, Florrie started to release her songs for free over the inter-web and people started to take notice.
Now with a major label record deal inked, Florrie’s new EP, ‘Sirens’, seeks to bridge the gap between her previous work and her new album. Headed by the experimental, hypnotic ‘Seashells’, Florrie shouts ‘He sells the Seashells you say no’ over a wildly intoxicating exotic beat looped over and over again for your enjoyment.
Oh, and the one song you really need to hear by Florrie is the exceptional ‘Looking For Love.’
6. ‘Wild Wild Love’ – Pitbull and GRL
The curse of horrible songs made by the horrible rapper Pitbull was seemingly put to bed with the release of the amazing ‘Timber’, mostly thanks to the involvement of Kesha.
But it seems instead of Pitbull making a one-time deal with Pop Gods for a good song, this seems to be more than a one-hit thing. This time the actually quite good song Pitbull has unleashed features the vocals of five-piece GRL, who were going to be the new Pussycat Dolls but wisely chose to change their name.
Now with the help of Katy Perry’s resident hit maker, Dr. Luke, GRL deliver an amazing country-flecked chorus that once again manages to save the song despite some very questionable raps from Pitbull about ‘the ladies’.
7. ‘Ghost’ – Ella Henderson
This just sounds so much like a chart-mauling number one it’s envious.
8. ‘Lemonade’ – Danity Kane
Don’t feel silly if you haven’t heard of Danity Kane; this girl-band were a big deal in the US (scoring 2 number one albums) but the hype didn’t seem to reach the UK shores that well. Anyway, all you do need to know is that Danity Kane split up a few years ago and now they’re trying the ‘comeback’.
The first part of the comeback is accomplished, since this song is indeed very good, with a hip-hop based beat and a feisty chorus where the Kane sing ‘They looking so thirsty might just need a drink…Lemonade.’
Take a sip and gladly come back for more.
9. ‘West Coast’ – Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey’s first major label album, Born To Die and its follow-up EP, Paradise, are just about as close to perfect dark-pop you can get. Del Rey’s shtick of the American neo-noir femme fatale, however, was all spent up by the time the album closed with its own short film, ‘Tropico’.
Now, gladly, with the release of her second album Ultraviolence (seriously what a title), things have taken a turn for the grungy.
‘Down on the west coast, they gotta saying,’ Del Rey pouts over a hypnotic guitar riff courtesy of Dan Auberbach of the Black Keys. It’s enough of a change in tone for Del Rey for it to feel like a smart move, yet the song stills feels infinitely like a Lana Del Rey song.
This album is shaping up to be quite something.
10. ‘Opulence’ – Brooke Candy
Stripper/rapper/occasional nutter, Brooke Candy has been around for a while yet no-one’s really taken that much notice.
This is, however, probably about to change with the release of ‘Opulence’; an extravagant rap number produced by Diplo and co-written, quite bizarrely, by Sia.
‘I’m a grown queen, doing grown things,’ Candy ponders. ‘Try to find my hand underneath the gold ring.’ With the accompanying Steven Klein-directed music video being both opulent and quite frankly terrifying, Brooke Candy is hoping her good fortune doesn’t end soon.