When hundreds of great songs of all genres are released every year, it’s no surprise that The Michigan Daily’s “Top Songs of the Year” ballots are consistently wide-ranging and diverse, with plenty of worthy tracks snubbed in the final annual list. With this in mind, Daily Arts Writer Rachel Kerr would like to present an alternative list: her own personal choices for 2014’s best music.
1. “2 On” – Tinashe ft. Schoolboy Q
Tinashe told ThisIsRnB that “2 on” means “when you’re like a little too turnt up. It’s like being extra just like whatever you’re doing.” And Urban Dictionary tells us it literally means to be on two different substances — “to be drunk and high at the same time.” Whatever the hell it means, this undeniably catchy song channels the universal feeling of going out and making some regrettable — but enjoyable — decisions. Who can’t relate?
2. “After Ur Gone” – Alex G
Alex Giannascoli, better known as “Alex G,” is a Temple University student who has quietly been uploading music to the Internet for years now. Reminiscent of indie-rock favorites such as Built to Spill or the late Elliot Smith, “After Ur Gone” succeeds by contrasting the rocker’s fragile vocals with hectic bits of electric guitar. The track appears on Giannascoli’s first full-length album DSU.
3. “Gone Down the River” – Fletcher C. Johnson
There’s something about this track that just feels right — it’s both authentic and natural. “Gone Down the River” sounds sentimental, but not sappy; meaningful, but also fun. It’s hard not to appreciate the infectious rhythm of the 7-minute track as it dances beautifully between country and rock-n-roll.
4. “Continental Shelf” – Viet Cong
“Continental Shelf” is the kind of postpunk I love. It’s loud and unsettling and makes you a bit nervous. The clanging of the guitar could be overwhelming, if not for the hypnotizing melody carrying the track. It sounds very Interpol-esque, but back when they were young and still making good music.
5. “Tuesday” – ILOVEMAKONNEN ft. Drake
As a loyal Drake fan, I first listened to this song only for his verse. After my first listen, I believe I even called this song “terrible.” But the song has a way of growing on you. Makonnen’s jagged, unconventional rapping style, which I once found annoying, is actually pretty upbeat and catchy. You can’t help but sing along as he sings, “Got the club goin’ up, on a Tuesday,” no matter what day it is.
6. “Brother” – Mac DeMarco
Mac Demarco’s Salad Days was hailed by many as one of the best albums of 2014. With its release, DeMarco’s already large cult following grew even larger. “Brother” showcases everything that is great about the album – dreamy lyrics, lackadaisical guitar riffs and some good advice about growing up – “you’re better off dead / when your minds been set / from nine until five.”
7. “Without U” – Spooky Black
It’s hard not be intrigued by a white kid wearing a turtleneck and du-rag who starts uploading music to the Internet. What’s even more intriguing is how difficult this kid is to define. Spooky Black is in the same league as rising irony-tinged rappers Yung Lean and Lil B, artists whose creativity is constantly questioned and rarely understood. “Without U” demonstrates Black’s surprising range as an R&B artist, proving that he should be taken seriously.
8. “Hella Hoes” – A$AP Mob
If you like ignorant rap, you can’t not love this song. What’s better than A$AP Mob standouts Ferg and Rocky, along with their counterparts, literally just rapping over and over again, “I got hoes?” Doesn’t get much better than that.
9. “Blue Suede” – Vince Staples
Beginning with its siren-like intro, “Blue Suede” seethes with urgency and paranoia. The beat is loud, and Vince Staples’s lyrics are explicit. It was the first single from Staples’s first official EP Hell Can Wait. The track is best played at maximum volume, so you can’t hear yourself attempting to rap along as Staples aggressively tell us, “Bitches ain’t shit but hoes/ Bitches ain’t shit but tricks.”
10. “Off the Corner” – Meek Mill ft. Rick Ross
I once had a friend say he’d kill a person for this beat. Dramatic, but a testimony to the strength of the track (or my friend’s sanity.) But when Rick Ross goes in, it’s hard not to agree.