Best Music Videos of 2014

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Ham, HAIM, blood, and dancing…

1. Big Data ft. Joywave – “Dangerous” [Directors: Brandon LaGanke and John Carlucci] – A satire about the hyper-sexualization of the media needs to go full-bore in flipping the script. This clip from Big Data did just that, turning big-breasted women for athletic gear into full-on insatiable predators.

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The Best Albums of 2014 That I Listened To

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As my best albums list is the “Best Albums I Listened To” as opposed to just the “Best Albums,” it is more pointedly subjective than my other best of lists. I usually do not listen to enough albums each year to really be able to definitively say which are the absolute greatest. Thus, this year, instead of focusing on objective critical analysis, I have decided to write about my own personal experiences with each of these entries.

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Best Songs of 2014

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All songs on this list were released as singles in 2014, or late 2013.

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1. Sia – “Chandelier” – In crafting an absolutely legit party stomper, the winkingly camera-shy Australian chanteuse tweaked the standard party pop formula with a devastatingly effective post-chorus about when the party ends. This is self-examination writ large, grabbing listeners’ ears and demanding empathy.
2. DJ Snake & Lil’ Jon – “Turn Down for What” – The controlled chaos of trap music was all over the place in 2014, and this tribute to keeping up that loud was its orgasmic pinnacle.
3. Ariana Grande ft. The Weeknd – “Love Me Harder” – A swirl of conflicting or compatible romantic emotions made for the most passionate R&B duet in ages.
4. Katy Perry ft. Juicy J – “Dark Horse” – With clutch production from Dr. Luke, Max Martin, and Cirkut, Katy trapped her fans with an empowering edge.
5. Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX – “Fancy” – A pale white Australian may not be what most people think of when it comes to hip-hop, but Iggy brings a vitally unique voice to the game.
6. Lana Del Rey – “West Coast” – Ms. Del Rey escorted us through the ethereal experience of the year.
7. Hozier – “Take Me to Church” – A social consciousness in the face of religious strictures proved once again to be a recipe for great music.
8. Charli XCX – “Break the Rules” – A dance punk anthem for the ages.
9. Milky Chance – “Stolen Dance” – This quirky, folky curiosity stuck in the ears thanks to the unique vocalizations of Clemens Rehbein.
10. Charli XCX – “Boom Clap” – Charli XCX has quite a way with big dumb choruses.
11. Lorde – “Yellow Flicker Beat” – It’s not very often that a movie gets a theme song that matches it perfectly; cherish it, Mockingjay.
12. Royal Blood – “Figure It Out” – Royal Blood rode their absolutely bloody killer garage rock into the 2014 scene.
13. Big Data ft. Joywave – “Dangerous” – A pounding riff and crackling percussion convey the sense of overwhelming surveillance that Big Data is getting at.
14. St. Vincent – “Birth in Reverse” – Among many superlative qualities, the debut single from Annie Clark’s self-titled album featured the best opening lines of the year (“Oh what an ordinary day/Take out the garbage, masturbate”).
15. Banks – “Begging for Thread” – I think the slinky-voiced Banks really meant to say “I think you secretly knew” instead of “Secretly I think you knew,” but those syntactical tricks are what make us love song lyrics.
16. Taylor Swift – “Blank Space” – The same shit that Taylor’s always been singing about, but much more self-aware and much snappier.
17. Calvin Harris – “Summer” – This track may be repetitive, but that repetition so strongly captures a feeling of passion awakened but not quite fully realized.
18. Ariana Grande ft. Zedd – “Break Free” – The incomprehensibility of Ariana Grande is part of her appeal. Also, that spacey electronic Zedd beat looks good on her.
19. U2 – “The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)” – Crunchier and punchier than U2 have been in decades.
20. Cold War Kids – “All This Could Be Yours” – The Cold War Kids got their sound just right with a driving piano riff that led right into an oh-oh-oh chorus.
21. The Black Keys – “Fever” – The psychedelic turn that we surely all knew we needed from Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney.
22. Fitz and the Tantrums – “Fools Good” – Soul music is about baring the soul; Fitz and the Tantrums nailed it here with this ode to the absence of love.
23. Tove Lo – “Habits (Stay High)” – Music for recovering from or refueling for partying.
24. Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj – “Bang Bang” – The double entendres are barely hidden in this bouncy soul-pop throwback.
25. Clean Bandit ft. Jess Glynne – “Rather Be” – Every year deserves a paean to healthy romantic love; Clean Bandit delivered it in 2014.