End Of Year

Backfill: 2014 EOY: Part 4 of 4: Shattered Kawaii

As before, bold for albums or songs that should be higher, strikethrough for those that have not held up over time and should be far lower (less of those toward the top though. This is archive writing by myself that I published on Buzzjack and we’re now on 2014, which is I would say the year when I really started to look back at these and think that I had done myself proud in talking about the music that I liked that year. So in all honesty I probably won’t do much editing and putting in extra italic comments (that signifies that’s 2016 me and not 2014 me) unless there is an extra point I want to make.  

Be aware that I have got a line of lyrics from the song after each entry in italics so don’t get that confused with my 2016 comments. And I probably won’t be doing very much of the comments, except where necessary now, I think my writing can mostly stand on its own. I’ll be honest, mostly I just want to put this out before the end of the year and it’s helpful for busy days.
60. Alicia Keys – It’s On Again (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
I am a freedom fighter, the name that history wrote

59. Ed Sheeran – I See Fire
Keep watching over Durin’s sons

58. Freaky Fortune – Rise Up (feat. RiskyKidd)
Come on and rise up, jump out of what keeps you down

57. Lovelife – Dying To Start Again
I got eyes so wide I’ve seen it all

56. Jungle – Time
just hold on tight

55. Cash Cash – Take Me Home (feat. Bebe Rexha)
Round in circles, here we go

54. Calvin Harris – Outside (feat. Ellie Goulding)
There’s a power in what you do

53. Haloo Helsinki – Beibi!

52. Arion – Seven
All the years and all the tears were worth the pain

51. Vanic X Machineheart – Circles
If you’re looking for a diamond, you gotta sift through the gold

The Amazing Spiderman (technically the 2nd one) soundtrack produced a couple of great songs (and that’s all I know of it for, like I would watch it), and here’s one of them, a song where every rhythm is expertly measured to sound epic, awesome, cool, all that would be associated with superheroes. It’s also restored my opinion of Alicia into someone I really like rather than someone I thought was way past it when she made that Girl On Fire exercise.

We’re certainly not done with film songs yet, so it’s fitting the next one is Ed Sheeran. Unlike some other films, the idea that a Tolkien film would have a chart hit seemed very strange to me, May It Be, Gollum’s Song and Into The West were done by Enya, Emiliana Torrini and Annie Lennox respectively but all remain entirely associated with the Lord Of The Rings films rather than anything else. But fortunately Ed did the Hobbit justice with this haunting and slow track, it brings the LOTR references, it brings some fantastic guitar that is probably some of the best strumming Ed’s ever done and the vocals sound brilliant, especially in the climax of the track. Like The Hobbit itself, it builds slowly and slowly, taking in everything before reaching a satisfying climax.

Rise Up, like It’s On Again, feels very cool in the way the track progresses and after I began to take in all of the Eurovision entries it emerged firmly from the pack as one to watch. It’s a shame it was a failure by Greek standards as they were great performers and this trumpety synthy trashy Balkan beat track is something I wouldn’t mind seeing more of. It’s like Bom Bom but if Bom Bom wasn’t as embarassing or novelty. Which is a win win.

Lovelife’s Dying To Start Again is a great tune, and has come out as my favourite discovery from BJSC 69, a little rocky, a little dancy, it therefore hits all the right buttons for me, such that I can’t believe that the Youtube video has it being as over a year old with barely over 40,000 views; in this climate it should be worth far more than that.

Again, something that feels like far more of a hit than it was, mainly because it gives off the same catchy vibes that many Pharrell songs do, and was a favourite of Radio 1 for some time, is Jungle’s Time, who at least had a successful album that I should check out if this is any indication of what they have to offer.

Take Me Home is pretty perfect for me, raspy not-quite-brilliant vocals over a full pulsating dance track, leading into that glorious chorus, I can’t really criticise it because if all dance was like this I would be very happy. Similarly great is Calvin Harris’ effort with Ellie Goulding in Outside, an effort far more appealing to me than the previous I Need Your Love. Like Take Me Home it captures some feeling from the vocals and channels it into in the dance beats. It doesn’t really matter what that feeling is to me, the important thing is that it’s there. That’s how I can like and love euphoric dance songs like these two and they have it in spades.

Haloo Helsinki are no stranger to my EOY chart by now, and Beibi is possibly their best so far, a guitar bridge building into an explosive guitar-y chorus alongside versed vocals of someone who definitely feels like she’s becoming the Finnish Gwen Stefani circa 2000 (which of course makes them No Doubt in their prime, but maybe a bit more rocky). At this point they’re just pandering to me, and I could not be happier with it.

The next of my BJSC entries (a music song contest I keep referencing in here, there’s too many to strip out), and the only Finnish representation from me this year (although Beibi almost made it at one point), is Arion, a young metal band who impressed me loads in UMK last year, and I fell in love with enough that I sent their next song straight to the contest (possibly without thinking, but this was before any and all rock seemed doomed to fail). I even had to upload this on Youtube myself as the only one there at the time was really bad quality – however as I check now my video is the top thing you get when one searches for the song, with nearly double the views *.* (2016 update: now third on search results but still has just about more views) The song itself is a great hard rock track, and at times about a year ago it really was all that I was listening to. It never finishes when you think it is going to, it just continues with fantastic guitar smashing and held down notes. This band has serious potential if they’re able to harness it.

Finally, another dance tune with feeling, Circles, and one that clearly has a lot of love surrounding it, so I would say it has some hit potential if anyone out there is willing to pick it up (which they probably aren’t). Every time, as the chorus goes ‘one more time’, I brace myself for a whirlwind of audio bliss, because that’s exactly what it is. Also, because that contest was when I took my holiday this year, listening to this makes me think of sun and the pool, which always helps me love songs more. If only this and Cry For Freedom weren’t in the same contest, it would have been great to see this as a winner.

50. Lights – Running With The Boys
We were kind of feral, wicked little machines

49. Orange Caramel – Catallena

48. FKA Twigs – Two Weeks
Flying like a screamin’ falcon, on our ways to do each other

47. Carl Espen – Silent Storm
I’ll wait forever and a lifetime to find I’m not alone

46. Bakermat – One Day (Vandaag)
I have a dream

Okay, these need to go into shorter posts now. 5 at a time. Running With The Boys is a brilliant track from Lights’ Little Machines, upbeat, happy and just a tiny bit wistful with the ‘just like the old times’ refrain. One of her best already.

Further proving the kawaii-ness of this countdown, Catallena, a track that has one of the best videos of the year, is another great track from Orange Caramel, a track that is actually my highest K-Pop track from this year, I’m surprised it all went out so quickly, although I can’t actually remember how many I had in the top 200. It hasn’t been a vintage year for the genre. I didn’t think it was possible but they’ve made something catchier than Lipstick, and it’s just a bit of an entertaining romp.

The rest of this section is far more serious. Two Weeks is just pretty fantastic, I normally veer far away from the subtle and perhaps I shouldn’t do that as much as this is great, the best bit, as lovely as her airy vocals are, being the deliberate and slow instrumental. I’ve recently gotten her album, I hope there are more things like this for when I get around to listening.

Silver for Eurovision 2014 is Silent Storm for me. He may not be exactly the performer to deliver a song of this magnitude on stage but on record this is pretty fantastic, what with it being a power piano ballad and all. ‘Someday I’ll be calm’ is delivered with just the right amount of pathos to convey the emotion within this song. It makes me cry sometimes. Norway are very often sending something interesting and switching it up, and from I Need Your Love last year to this, I will continue to be a fan if they continue what is barely a strategy and more just an example of how much quality musics they have available (next year, send Elsa and Anna!).

I Have A Dream, well it’s surprising it hasn’t been done sooner. Still, Bakermat was a very welcome addition to the sax invasion, and the way the music works with the great words of MLK is inspiring. INSPIRING.

45. Jay Dabli & Moises Modesto – Cry For Freedom

44. Calvin Harris – Summer
When I met you in the summer

43. Heathers – Lions, Tigers, Bears
somewhere out there, there’s a place called home

42. Rixton – Me And My Broken Heart
Shot gun, aimed at my heart, you got one

41. Sigma – Nobody To Love
I know you’re tired of loving

Yes, I know very well Cry For Freedom is 5 years old but we all consider it a 2014 track now (as it won a BJSC in 2014 and got introduced to us mostly then). Also, like Circles, I was playing it and playing it on my holiday, and that holiday and association with the sun edged it above Circles for me (so even though I had given Circles more, that would change now so I’m so glad it actually won in the end, I was so pleased when finding out the result through the generous wi-fi of a Spanish café). But yes, Cry For Freedom. A monster of a DnB instrumetal that goes through several evolving stages, it evokes many feelings of struggle and eventual hope, given its title. Masterpiece.

There are 3 of the 6 UK #1s that are left in this section of 5 and I definitely did not plan it that way, we just need to chuck them all out at some stage. Summer is probably typical (at the least) of what one would expect a Calvin Harris song to sound like, yet the breakdown is so uplifting I don’t really care. It’s obviously also very evocative of sun and warmth (hell, this entire section screams summer, let’s just go with that), that it makes me happier just listening to it and imagining I’m on a beach with the sun beating down on me. There have been occasions during this year where that has been the case and I’ve drifted off to this song for a few minutes.

I’m not sure why I connected so much with ‘Lions, Tigers, Bears’ but I did. A very charming pop song, it has a bit of an epic feeling to it and I really got quite addicted to it when it got entered into BJSC. I thought it’d be just another of those ones I love but no-one else does, fortunately I’d forgotten I have a talent of getting those to the bottom end of the final, so that’s where it went. But thank you very much for this Noah, great debut entry (and you’re not done yet either).

So yeah, one of the other #1s is Maroon 5 taking on Unfaithful as a boyband? Well, Me And My Broken Heart actually far better than that description would sound, it is like a more upbeat Unfaithful in tune, and that’s probably part of the reason why I love it, but it also sounds so full and accomplished, I wouldn’t have expected this before I heard it, I went into it expecting crap but what came out was one of the most compelling “MoR” (hardly, it’s actually energetic) tunes this year. Listened to it so many times and there is not one regret.

The other one is Sigma, again, what I had heard of it before listening, a remix of Bound 2, didn’t sound too appealing on the surface but when I got into it it was just addictive and crazy good. This song turned spring into summer. No kidding. Next to it, Bound 2 just looks entirely lifeless and devoid of charm, this made sure one good thing came out of that. (still one of the best things to come out of popular club music this year, though Sigma would never get any better)

40. The Common Linnets – Calm After The Storm
skies are black and blue

39. Kiesza – Hideaway
Not even I can find a way to stop the storm

38. G.R.L – Ugly Heart
Maybe I don’t know how to love but maybe I do

37. Sia – Chandelier
I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night

36. Imagine Dragons – I Bet My Life
Now remember when I told you that’s the last you’ll see of me

Wow, this is a bit of a commercial section. And all acts who have one (lead) entry in the countdown at that.

Starting off with the best Eurovision entry for me this year, Calm After The Storm, proving the superiority of storms or just songs mentioning storms. Unlike previous favourites I didn’t decide it until they stepped out onto the stage, as that’s where it hit pretty much everyone and their grandma, that’s probably to be expected. Lovely folky tune. In past years Eurovision entries have been far higher for me, and it is true that I didn’t find out a major standout this year, but I’m still on board with the contest and hoping for more great songs to follow, I just expect the likes of Euphoria and O Mie to be rarer than this. Calm After The Storm is a great first place for me, and seeing the Netherlands get a silver medal with this was possibly the highlight of the night – even my family loved it and they normally look on my Eurovision fondness with probably a bit of mild amusement.

Hideaway, my third favourite UK #1 this year, was a very interesting and different debut single (and shows a stark difference from the Kiesza we once saw in BJSC with an unplanned pregnancy song). Giant In My Heart wasn’t as good as this and I still have never heard No Enemiesz but the musical things this one is doing are lovely.

Ugly Heart is cute. Very very cute. I had thought I’d grown past girlband singles but this one struck me very hard, instruments and vocals alike. Getting vibes of the mid-00s here, anything that throws back to there is good. I’ve been liking the things I’ve been hearing from G.R.L for some time now, even if I probably wouldn’t admit it, and this is a wonderful, emotional, culmination of that.

Chandelier is quite the triumph. I know, I think we’ve all known for some time that Sia Furler is one of the better musical writers out there, and her big solo comeback (can one call it a comeback?) is a great exercise in vocal playing and musical goodness. Never minded how long this stuck around for, because it’s refreshing when one of these songs that sticks around for ages is a song that is just selling on musical merit almost entirely, not selling because of star power, not selling because it’s the sort of thing engineered to be offensive to no-one, but selling because it’s a great, powerful song, in that, Chandelier is a fantastic success.

Finally, Imagine Dragons’ comeback single. I’m still expecting this to be a big hit sometime in 2015, whenever its release date is, but for now, for the last couple of months in 2014 it gave me a song that’s almost as perfect as Radioactive was, a great return to form. Pained but upbeat, as with lots of ID songs actually.

35. Nothing But Thieves – Graveyard Whistling
Okay I’ll admit, I’m not innocent

34. Oh, Be Clever – Next To You
You should run away, run away with me

33. Christopher Tin – Baba Yetu (feat. Soweto Gospel Choir) (this was the year I properly got into playing Civ regularly and this also nearly won BJSC, what a life-defining tune)

32. Charisma.com – Iinadukeblue

31. Lindsey Stirling – Roundtable Rival

And now there’s a section full to the brim of entries from BJSC. Yayah.

Starting off with Graveyard Whistling from Nothing But Thieves, a beautiful grower that was also a lovely surprise hit in that contest. I was vaguely aware of the band’s existence before they got entered but only with ‘Emergency’, which isn’t really as good as this; this is so much better what with chanting in the climax and slow, deliberate steps throughout the song up to that point.

Far less somber is Next To You. Sounding like something a big label pop-rock band would put out, the chorus is incredible good. I don’t really have huge amounts to say about it, but it is very good and a nice top off to the incredible top 4 in that contest (isn’t often I’m on board with that much at the top).

Like Nothing With Thieves, I was vaguely aware of the existence of Baba Yetu when it got entered, through being a Civ 4 player, but it hadn’t stuck with me and so I got a huge amount of enjoyment of it being entered. Evoking a picture of all human accomplishment in one short song (the Lord’s Prayer in Swahili), especially through either the Civ 4 accompanying video or the Earth-porn video it was entered with, it’s one to give you chills and I can well believe it won a Grammy Award, the first video game song to do so, I’ve heard a lot of those and this is possibly one of the very best.

At #32 is my weirdest BJSC entry of the year and also my proudest success. In one go, it got me my first foreign-language entry, first rap entry and first Asian entry into the final, and not only that, all the way to the top 10. I’d also go as far to say it’s by some distance my most inspired entry of the 10, I found it through hearing ‘Hate’ by Charisma.com last year I think, and then seeing a new single by them, this, rendered in Japanese characters like イイナヅケブルー (having learned Japanese writing systems since, wow that that’s rendered in katakana (properly as iinadukeburue)), I wonder what language that’s actually from then, although this song is of course in Japanese). It’s a cheery, ridiculous rap-fest by two feisty Japanese women, and there is probably nothing more jaw-droppingly amazing that you’ve come across this year. A defining Séyetan entry I think. I would have chosen this as the video to embed were it not for the final entry in this section.

And that is the fourth video from Lindsey Stirling’s Shatter Me campaign, featuring the second-best song on the album and the best instrumental I’ve heard this year, that of the dangerously named Roundtable Rival. Almost verging on metallic territory for Lindsey, it’s a hard dance track that I imagine would have done nearly as well in BJSC despite the lack of vocals. Maybe I’ll have to keep it until enough time has passed for me to fool the mods into letting Lindsey past the veto system again. (haven’t done that yet, I’m a good boy) The video really helps what was an amazing track on its around too, I think I may have to go as far as to say it’s Lindsey’s best video ever – set in the wild west and defeating outlaws with awesome violin skillz. Watch it. It will probably enhance your life.

30. Christina Perri – Human
Your words in my head, knives in my heart

29. Paolo Nutini – Iron Sky
You are not machines, you are not cattle, you are men!

28. RAM & Susana – RAMelia (Tribute To Amelia)
And all your colors keep shining through the darkest day

27. Zhu – Paradise Awaits
Walking around just talking my shit, conversation based around just sex, words on the tip of my tongue

26. Within Temptation – Whole World Is Watching (feat. Dave Pirner)
What are you waiting for? What are you fighting for? Cause time’s always slipping away

Human I had low down last year but I held on to it with the expectation it would do something this year and I wasn’t proved wrong, and the release of the video, a simple but incredibly effective demonstration of the song’s concept, kept my love for it afloat too, a worthy successor to Jar Of Hearts and Arms in my affections. It is very emotional and is therefore a further example of how good this woman is at giving me brilliant pop songs with a whole range of emotions, as this one is happy rather than depressing. It even feels triumphant at the end.

Iron Sky is now quite easily my favourite song from Paolo Nutini, and it is the way he makes the song a cinematic and epic experience – at 6 minutes, there’s no rushing here – that makes it great and such that nearly everyone has pointed it out as a big highlight from the album. The voiceover from Charlie Chaplin serves to add weight to the middle section of the song and build up a load of energy for the final section. There is not a song out there that sounds like it, and that makes it an essential listening experience, especially if you love the pained sound to Paolo’s vocals like I do.

Also having a great emotional weight attached to it (just doing all those here, don’t mind me) is RAMelia, one of the greatest discoveries from BJSC I’ve ever made I think, I’ve played it so many times because after playing through the sad ballady lyrics, have had the resonance of those lyrics carry through into a tear-jerky trance song and seen it finish, you want to go back and experience it all again. The subtitle is ‘Tribute to Amelia’ and I couldn’t think of any more fitting tribute for anyone honestly.

One above that, and I didn’t plan it like this, honest, is my entry to the contest where RAMelia won, the trippy upbeat ~cool~ song from a guy whose name you’ll probably recognise even if you weren’t following the contest then. It’s the same mysterious Zhu responsible for ‘Faded’, but Paradise Awaits is a very different beast, far less deep house, far more brazen, and another great track from a great talent. Superfriends is also quite good. This started out as being way better than ‘Faded’ for me but unfortunately commercial whorishness set in and the latter edges above this now, but what I do enjoy about this is that I gave a discovery that remains a discovery and get to look like a tastemaker in the process. Best of both worlds.

Finally, a rock duet. It’s accessible enough to be played on commercial radio, but it’s also hard enough to feel incredibly enjoyable. Sharon and Dave’s voices blend pretty perfectly here (as they do on the other version with Piotr but I’ve listened to this one so much more). By any rights this should have been a massive hit everywhere and Within Temptation’s signature tune, it’s certainly built that way and it will now act that way to me, the highlight of a fantastic campaign.

25. Indila – Derniere Danse

24. Clean Bandit – Come Over (feat. Stylo G)
You better make time to sit down and put pen to paper

23. DyE – Fantasy (I make no apologies for linking the video here, again this is a couple of years old but my rule is if it hits me this year and it’s not TOO old, in it goes, be aware of that for when anime OPs descend upon 2016)
I’ve sent my heart away, like heroes in the rain

22. Lorde – Team
And you know, we’re on each other’s team

21. The Cab – Angel With A Shotgun (Nightcore Version) (one of the most important songs I’ve ever discovered and sent to BJSC, it’s absolutely epic)
They say before you start a war, you better know what you’re fighting for. Well baby, you are all that I adore, if love is what you need, a soldier I will be.

I have a soft spot for French language tracks a lot of the time, especially more so in recent years, and that really works with Derniere Danse, a pop song that’s one of the most accomplished of the year, connecting above language barriers and with a music video showing storm clouds and dark times, it feels very poignant and beautiful, I should listen to more Indila as this has been just a bit of a revelation in exactly what talent France has grown in recent times. (aside: God, of all the days to get to this section in my countdown, poor, poor France)

Bringing the sunshine in the late summer was this brilliant later reggae-influenced single from Clean Bandit featuring the one and only Stylo G. It’s very catchy and adorable, bringing Grace Chatto to the fore. Each Clean Bandit video seemed to emphasise a different member of the band, Come Over was Grace’s turn, and at this point it seemed like she’d been passed over a bit, so it was very much a day in the limelight for her, and I love that trope, when someone previously unfocused delivers a stunning performance that really makes you sit up and notice them. That’s good.

Fantasy I only knew to be a shock video on the internet that I hadn’t watched from a couple of years ago. I had no idea of the beautiful music contained within. As an aside, I know no-one else thinks this, but I totally get what the video is trying to do and probably because of my love for that sort of cartoony visual, really enjoy the story presented. It’s creepy and wrong, yes, but I don’t think it was entirely made with the shock value in mind so I just see that lot as part of the artistry. But the music, yes. Without the video to distract, after this got entered into BJSC, I really started liking the atmospheric sounds it uses, from the barely decipherable lyrics to the pulsating watery sounds, it’s an aural experience just as notable if not more notable than the video it’s got so much attention for. Doc Blind entering this really gave me a wonderful discovery, so I must thank you for that.

Team is just the cutest. I didn’t think of Lorde as the sort of artist who would provide that, as young as she is she was tackling far more serious subjects from the off, so I never saw this coming. I think it might be my favourite by her, for while it’s still got some element of attacking the musical stereotypes that we’ve all got used to (see DJ Earworm’s 2010 video for where the ‘hands in the air’ thing was at its worst), the best part is the chorus, throwing out an image of people working together even if it’s not very good, before ending with the adorable line ‘we’re on each other’s team’. I keep coming back to this because of that, Lorde really outdid herself here.

And then there’s Nightcore. Throughout this year I’ve been pretty obsessed with Nightcore and it’s a subculture that’s growing, Angel With A Shotgun, one of the most popular single song videos, has over twice the views now that it did when I entered it to BJSC (9 mil to 19 mil), and it had been up for a couple of years before that. I’ve even made my own Nightcore mixes and uploaded them onto Youtube and they’ve got a very decent amount of views (now sitting at over 1000 subscribers through solidly keeping at it). But this then, the sped-up version of The Cab’s ‘Angel With A Shotgun’ turns a midtempo alt-rock song into a high-pitched romp – it’s one of the greatest successes of Nightcore and one of my favourite things from that ‘genre’, already filled to the brim with fantastic lyrics (they could be inspiring but that would probably just worry you that I’d be going on a trip with a shotgun), the high voice just makes it sound so much more epic. It may be artificial, but there’s so much emotion here that I have no problem with it and that can probably be applied to the whole of Nightcore, it brings the song to you at a speed you’re not quite ready for and therefore keeps you interested and attuned to the lyrics. I don’t care if heaven won’t take me back indeed, because if I’m abandoning truly sped music by falling in love with speed edits, I don’t really care.

(okay, now I’m really going to unload a mountain of text on you, if you are actually reading down this far, keep going, the best of 2014 is yet to come)
20. Idina Menzel – Let It Go

A kingdom of isolation, and it looks like I’m the queen

*takes deep breath*

I never originally fell in love with Let It Go. I only began to really take notice of it during the summer when it wouldn’t go away, and having not seen the film and having no idea of what was going on in it, yet used to film songs and their ways, loved the story that got told within it, the emotion within Idina’s voice, the lyrics that show how she’s escaping from something and responding by going into the ‘let’s not give a shit’ phase, the heroic feeling that accompanies the second half the song, all that combined to make sure I never got bored of the song, no matter how many weeks it stuck around on the silly official chart for. Having seen the film a couple of days ago, and understanding its context properly finally, that’s definitely helped my love for it, I can sympathise with Elsa, and yeah, basically I’m a huge Frozen fan. It is superb. I won’t let the silly haters ruin this commentary (there were a lot on this site at the time) but one thing I can never understand is the vehemence against this song, it’s not poorly made, it never set out with a sleazy goal in mind, there are far worse targets to be getting up in arms about in the music industry, it’s just a film segment that everyone liked and made popular – the one thing I can think of is that many of the haters aren’t big film watchers to my knowledge, that might be part of it idk I’m not trying to psychoanalyse anyone. Oh and by the way, she sings this perfectly, there’s a reason we love it and it’s not just to go against the haters.

It’s probably on track to go right up there in the best Disney songs for me, and with any luck we’ll still be enjoying this a year from now.

19. Amaranthe – Drop Dead Cynical (not that it’s not incredible, I don’t tend to bold as much higher because there’s not much it can be higher than)

You have to feed me worse that I inquire, so my discord someday takes me higher

Having been converted to Amaranthe fan-hood last year, the new single from them was something I was really anticipating late last year, so much so that when it premiered, in the first week I played it about 30 times straight – that means it was just about all I was listening to, and that’s incredibly unusual for me with new songs. Far dirtier and far more electronic than anything from them previously, Drop Dead Cynical really takes it to the limit of genre crossover by putting feet down in pop, with Elize sounding not too unlike Britney in some of her moments, rock and metal, obviously, with the guitars and the harsh vocals, which I’ve totally tuned out by now, but they are so energizing when you’re getting used to the song, as well as some electronic dance beats. It’s an accomplishment, really. I barely think of it as a BJSC entry as it was entered as a ‘well, I have nothing to lose, let’s actually just send this song I’ve been obsessing over for the past month and see how it does’ entry, and while it barely registered an impact there, I was very unbothered, I was just keeping it for myself and fistpumping and headbanging to the life-bringing chorus and guitar chords.

18. Tove Lo – Not On Drugs (okay yes this is the best Tove Lo song, sorry Out Of Mind and Stay High, which is actually higher here, so maybe a bold for this…)

I’m up with the kites and I dream so blue, I live in the sky, you can live here too, I’m queen of the clouds, make my wish come true, I sing to the night, let me sing to you

Okay, enough of the ‘f*** you Buzzjack’ songs, that’s bringing a bit of darkness over this lovely friendly EOY countdown where all opinions are respected, but only mine are considered valid, let’s go to Tove Lo and her wonderful song Not On Drugs. Having ignored the Truth Serum EP beyond the tracks expressly promoted off of it (and even then leaving out this one when it was promoted), I passed over this until Queen Of The Clouds came on the scene, but that was obviously a mistake as it’s all the way up here. There’s so much fluffy happiness in this song, as even evidenced by the first line and the joy of being so in love some suspect Tove to be on narcotics does rather shine through here. I got pretty smitten by this song as it delved me into yet another period of general Tove loving, the first of these happening with last year’s Out Of Mind, and the second.. yet to come.

17. Ain’t No Love – Love Me Lots (Bridge & Law Remix)

but have you ever seen the boys, they’ve making all that noise

Okay, here it is, my favourite pure discovery from BJSC this year, in that neither the artist nor the song meant a single thing to me before I began listening, and it was the first Aeroche entry of the year, and this was after I’d spent the year prior thinking people were voting more on their liking of Leww than his tracks and/or me despairing that I wasn’t getting a single Aeroche entry to completely love. This changed this quite a bit, and I’m now a bit of occasional fan of what our dear ketalina offers, so very important entry for me in terms of Séyetan-Aeroche relations. The reason it works are the fantastic sounding synths, the rapping that would be trashy were it not for those synths, the way it keeps teasing you as it enters into that last breakdown that it’s coming and yet you never want the teasing to end, a truly unique piece of music and one that has made my year very different in terms of audio quality thanks to Lewis. I hope you know I don’t (always) think those awful thoughts about your nation now, and understand that you do get it entirely on merit. But yeah, love love love and all that.

16. Owl City – Beautiful Times (feat. Lindsey Stirling)

I fought all through the night, oh, oh, but I made it alive, the sun’s starting to rise, oh, oh, these are beautiful times

Yes, on the surface this looks like a collaboration built for me, and indeed I was very excited when it first premiered, although it slightly predated me hearing Shatter Me and really falling in love with Lindsey, it certainly helped me along that route. Initially I couldn’t pick up on Lindsey but then I realised what that violin solo in the middle was (yeah, duh) and later knowing that she helped Adam write this, it really became both of their songs for me. For some it may just be a standard Owl City track, but the lyrics here are pretty great, leading one into these beautiful times (and for me, that was summer at the time this was biggest for me, it did help me get through exams just a bit). It led off Owl City’s Ultraviolet EP, which was quite good but I also want him to return to album making soon enough, and knowing he still is able to make stuff like this really helps that.

15. BABYMETAL – Gimme Chocolate!!! (I will bold Babymetal because they are so brilliant they deserve that)


Gimme Chocolate is grindy and gloriously metally as you get into it, and if you have no idea what Babymetal are, you might be initially shocked by their young voices popping up as a sharp contrast to the backing. However they’re the best thing about the track, it’s rhythm at its best, the two younger ‘metal’s harmonize their alternating lines perfectly, before Su-metal takes the chorus into some warbling about chocolate in Japanese. They really work amazingly as a group. It’s the combination of all those things that makes this track absolutely addictive for me. I really do appreciate weird combinations in my music and this is what Babymetal are offering, the best of J-Pop mixed in with a genre I’ve been more than dipping my toe into recently, melodic death metal. By the point I’d heard this I was already all clued in to what Babymetal were about, so I had no reservations about falling in love with this as I had another of their singles earlier in the year. Aside: They would be a fantastic experience live, would they not?

14. Archis – Blood

I’ve got my words, they’re gonna cut

A world away from the craziness of Gimme Chocolate, Blood is a journey through cinematic beauty, always a good indicator for me liking a song. The cover for it shows a guy standing out in the forest with the light shining down on him, and that’s the sort of picture I paint in my mind when I hear the instrumental, a building picture of joy – but that’s before we come to the lyrics which are absolutely not building joy, they’re actually quite dark and that’s captured a lot more in the video, which tortured story fits very well with the pained vocals in Dia’s voice as she sings about overcoming bad times. I really cannot express how perfect this song feels in just words, they are some words from someone who hasn’t had the most normal time in the music industry, with a lot of ups and downs to get to here, even this song, the only thing I’ve seen from this new project of hers, seemed to go sadly ignored. When a song has that weight behind it you can really feel the vulnerability and emotion in the voice as you do here and this forgotten gem is one of the best aural journeys I’ve been able to come across this year.

13. FAUL & Wad Ad vs. PNAU – Changes

Maybe it’s just the way, that God made me this day

Changes was over ten times lower last year off the back of only being a discovery in BJSC, which, no disrespect to the contest, I find it harder to keep total love of a song in the months after, it’s the songs up at these levels that I do and most others fade into the background. However, unlike Tsunami, which went pretty much the other way for me when it became a hit, I came back to Changes as it was looking to hit hard and I found new love in it. Saxes abound in it, but it’s not just because of them that this song is great, otherwise this would just be Jubel, which didn’t really go very many places for me, it’s the way they bounce along to the summery track that really works, not to mention the children’s choir lifted straight from a PNAU song. This package becomes a very cool and likeable dance song with adorable video that exudes joy. It’s not that often a song is completely focused on making its listeners happy with no other motives in between, so when I find one that does, I latch on pretty quickly. One of the best dance tunes the world has had in the 2010s.

12. Tuomas Holopainen – The Last Sled

Hold on to all that’s dear to you, as the last sled to Dawson finally arrives

Interesting fact time, in the contest LXV (yes, we do roman numerals, and yes there were 65 in 2014, there’s 90 now), Tuomas Holopainen and Dia Frampton were both in the top 10, one was my entry and the other received my 12. The same was also true all the way back in XLI, when I got my first top 10 with Turn Loose The Mermaids and Dia had her first outing to BJSC with Billy The Kid. I’ve been amused by this little duality throughout the second-half of the year, as again both the songs involved have been right up there amongst my absolute favourites of the year and I’ve been constantly reminded of it. I had not heard ‘The Last Sled’ before it was submitted to BJSC, due to falling behind with my Tuomas looning shamefully, but the second I saw it in the entry list I went and listened and was reminded just how good a composer he is. Set right in the middle of the story of Scrooge McDuck and with a narrating voice telling the story alongside the singing, it tells of times ending, and that’s enough to give me chills on its own, but then at the end of the second verse it erupts into a fantastic instrumental for the rest of the song, that only Tuomas could have created, so similar does it sound to many of his compositions with Nightwish, that I have no choice but to listen to it over and over again. This is the sort of music I wish there was more of, like Blood it’s an aural journey, but this one goes for a little more power and impact in telling a story, a reinterpretation of a piece of art in another medium, and it’s the skill involved in doing that to this piece that makes it so listenable.

11. Tove Lo – Habits (Stay High) [Hippie Sabotage Remix]

You’re gone and I gotta stay high, all the time

And on to what was the most surprising hit of 2014 for me, but in an entirely good way, as it totally converted me to Tove Lo’s ways, building on what Out Of Mind had done last year to take a song that I never really connected with (Habits) and made it connect. The repetition of the lyrics, already poignant as they are about pain and loss (and yes, I did come round to Habits a bit through this) makes them stand out a lot more than on the original, and while part of the reason I got into this song was seeing it hit loads of people in a way I never expected it to, the other part was obviously just how good it sounds at any time of day or night, whether it’s in a situation where you would be feeling like the lyrics of this song or in the comfort of your own room feeling just dapper, there’s no situation where this doesn’t sound great and gloriously trippy to listen to. Tove Lo pretty much saved (pure) pop for me this year, I hope she can continue to do so in future years.

10. Tonight Alive – The Edge

But I will fight until the day the world stops turning, and they will fall to ashes, I will just keep burning

It isn’t amazingly often I follow up my BJSC acts, especially if I wasn’t motivated to get any album of theirs or something like that, but ‘The Edge’ by Tonight Alive proved to be a very valuable exception to that rule – as part of that Spiderman film soundtrack I mentioned down by ‘It’s On Again’, it got a little bit of hype, enough to briefly give me a glimpse of ~chart forum mentions~ for the Australian Paramore, something I was quite sure would never happen, in this country at least, back when I entered ‘The Ocean’. And this actually improves on that, it has a great leap down into the chorus from my highlighted lyric up there straight to ‘BUT TONIGHT’, that sets you up for a fantastic chorus. Lyrically, it’s about someone ‘too close to breaking’ and ‘on the edge’ which are powerful lyrics and in Tonight Alive fashion, is going for pretty dark subject matter for pop-rock, but that does add to its power, especially with Jenna’s voice taking this on. Oh, and as should be natural up here, the guitars come to the fore in delivering a great intro and outro to bookend the song.

9. Coldplay – A Sky Full Of Stars

‘Cause you get lighter the more it gets dark

I expected great things from a Coldplay song called ‘A Sky Full Of Stars’ when I learned of it, the name conjuring up the best sorts of epic astronomical feeling that I was sure would produce another Coldplay classic, and I certainly was not disappointed. Shamelessly Avicii produced and pop-attuned, that instrumental reminiscent of some of Avicii’s best work does really help the song feel a lot more than any normal amazing Coldplay single, as it makes its way through some lyrics that do repeat themselves a bit, but really, in order to make this song great, the only lyric needed was the title line. I love the feeling every time this dives into the chorus (an instrumental chorus at that), that’s something I could never get bored of and that’s why it’s up this high. It’s the obvious hit off Ghost Stories and probably the one we’ll be talking about for some time to come, but in that, this cool successor to Paradise (at the closest, it sounds quite different but it gives off the same vibes) really shows off Coldplay at their best, when they do things slightly different for every single and important song, but retain the good riffs that made them. It’s hard to believe this and Midnight are on the same album but they are, and while I really appreciate the difference in sound Midnight gave to them, when push comes to shove I’ll head to their most uplifting song since Paradise. (seeing this one live was such an awesome experience, I mean Coldplay aren’t the most innovative band but they’re very enjoyable)

8. Zhu – Faded

all I wanna do is drive home to you

Every time this starts it relaxes me and makes me feel really laidback. There has been very little substitute for this in the entire deep-house wave, it sounds very accomplished, like Disclosure if they made slower music, and despite knowing this months before it hit and still playing it a lot waiting for everyone else to catch on, I never felt like I needed to switch to another track and if anything, it was just growing on me. If Zhu is letting the music doing the talking than he has done so very well indeed, with this and the others on the EP he’s probably one of the greatest talents to come out this year.

Like A Sky Full Of Stars the lyrics are repeated over and over, and like that it’s not really about the lyrics, it’s more about the vocals changing back and forth from the deep ones to the normal ones, as well as the backing feeling of coolness that comes with it, although unlike Coldplay it falls much more under a realm of what could be deemed credible. Now obviously I haven’t used that as a barometer in my chart but there is something very nice about knowing you like something that has impressed several people and is almost always spoken of highly. To some it may be the most ordinary thing from deep house that exemplifies the overpopularity of it, for me, it’s the one of most special things from that genre, it’s effortless in production, it’s effortless at sounding really great, and as far as big hit songs go, it’s certainly an unusual one.

7. Lilly Wood & The Prick And Robin Schulz – Prayer In C (Robin Schulz Remix)

See, our world is slowly dying, I’m not wasting no more time

And… that’s how I credit it. Accept no substitutions. (plus it’s one of the coolest credits a song has had this year)

I’ve quite surprised myself at how high this up compared to Waves, which is nice but not glorious like this is. I’ve checked out the original a couple of times and while this is better, it’s the reason why I prefer it over Waves, even with Robin Schulz’ influence, Waves was a bit too RnB and slow for my tastes to fully love it, this, folky and employing a happy tune over some thought-provoking lyrics make it a nice charming tune, and Robin Schulz’ touching up of this gives it a better sense of urgency. The same reason why I love nightcore comes into the fore as to why I like this song here, I like my music to be delivered to me quite fast, it doesn’t have to be upbeat but a faster song makes it all the more enjoyable to sit back to and take it in (and I can do that with a fast song just as well as I can with a slow one). Music just sounds better sped up to me. That’s why Prayer In C was a fantastic choice of song to get Schulz a hit, it was a song that probably needed speeding up but when done so, wouldn’t sound overdone. It hit me pretty instantly and is probably the main song I associate with my Spanish holiday, not because I heard it out anywhere (somewhat surprising in hindsight), but because I was getting really into it at the time and played it loads of my own volition out there. That brings you round to a hit.

6. Tuomas Holopainen – A Lifetime Of Adventure

Story of your life, time of solitude and strife

I may have been late to The Last Sled, but I certainly wasn’t late to this – indeed this is why I was so eagerly anticipating listening to the latter once I knew of its existence, because this song is so good and along with a couple of the tracks above it, dominated the first quarter of my year. Like with The Last Sled, it’s not Tuomas singing, he’s hired some nondescript but nice-sounding female voices to take this on, and they do an excellent job of it, because the real strength of this is all Tuomas’ influence, the lyrics and the music combining in something that feels really really epic. As one would expect a track called ‘A Lifetime of Adventure’ to sound, that’s how it sounds, grand and reminiscent of times past, coming at the end of the concept album of Scrooge McDuck’s life, it’s meant to be like this.

Becoming a Nightwish fan in 2011, I didn’t know at the time I would be setting out on the joint-longest gap that they’d ever had between new albums so I was very ready for new material from Tuomas, even if it was him on his own, and this did very well in helping tide me over. This man really improves the general state of music for me; nearly every track he’s made has been one I want to repeat over and over again, and this, the zenith of his solo project, gave me hope and the knowledge that he had in no way lost his touch. Bring on Endless Forms Most Beautiful. (and bring on 2015 where I dissect Endless Forms Most Beautiful <3)

5. Kasabian – Eez-Eh

Least I ain’t sleazy, I’m just trying to put the world to rights, and if you want to, I’ll take you out, cause I got the feeling that I’m gonna keep you up all night

Now, I wasn’t really expecting huge things from a Kasabian single given I’d gotten quite sick of Days Are Forgotten a few months after it premiered, but Eez-Eh turned out to be a different beast altogether. Instantly catchy and groovy-sounding, it’s a fun dancey tune from Kasabian, which was probably the last thing I’d expected, but it turned out to be possibly the best thing they’d ever made for me as it nearly single-handedly spurred me on to listen to so many more Kasabian tracks than I ever had before – I had all the albums but I hadn’t ventured in them all that often, with this at the forefront.

If you were eagle-eyed (and on Buzzjack in 2014, sorry to blog readers, it was ‘I’m just trying to put the world to rights’), you may have noticed that for most of this year my member title included a lyric from this song – while the song isn’t exactly serious, I really doubt something about ‘being watched by Google’ was meant to be a weighty social commentary, and the song has a bit of #lad stuff in it (but hey, at least they ain’t sleazy), at least the sentiment of ‘trying to put the world to rights’ (or alight, sometimes I feel that way too) is there, even if the band and the audience don’t have the means to do it and are probably just going to talk about things they’ll never do – and that’s a sentiment I probably share, even if I’m not always that good at putting the world to rights, at least I can try. It keeps me thinking, at least, and that’s the big impact this song had on me, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had with Kasabian musically and the cool instrumental bridges keep me coming back for more all the time, but I can also have a blast listening to the lyrics and working them out.

4. BABYMETAL – Megitsune

Nameh tara i kanseyo!

I think, deep down, we all just want to get crazy and start headbanging to some weird Japanese metal sung by girls aged 14-16.

This may have been my philosophy when entering Babymetal to BJSC. It may have gone down in flames, it may have attracted about 6 staunch supporters and nothing else, but I remain true to my assessment that this is my best entry this year and one of the best songs I’ve ever come across, let alone entered.This is where the ‘kawaii’ part of my year has come from, after listening to this, I never really looked back in terms of getting right into Babymetal and their album and everything that came along with it. The music is so ferocious and so fast and so pleasing to listen to that once you have it on, very little else matters and you’re entirely following the ‘story’, and after a lot of listens (the most of any song this year according to my last.fm) I can sort of follow that. Well I say I can follow it but without translating the lyrics I wouldn’t have a clue what’s going on but I can identify how the emotions change in the music and how the music gets scarier and then triumphant at the end. For what reason I don’t know but it’s also been quite emotional on me, it’s probably the most wild song that’s ever made me cry.

I don’t just like Babymetal to be weird, honestly, I like them because the music in this evokes some really strong feelings in me, what they are I’m not really sure of and it’s very unusual to me that one of the greatest musical moments of my life has been provided by teenage girls, but it’s there, and it’s happened. Megitsune is a whirlwind of emotions even if you don’t understand Japanese or understand why Babymetal exist, and it is very easy and very enjoyable to, for just over 4 minutes, completely lose yourself in it.

3. Clean Bandit – Rather Be (feat. Jess Glynne)

We staked out on a mission to find our inner peace, make it everlasting so nothing’s incomplete

You know, throughout this thread I’ve found it infinitely easier to talk about tracks that I am alone or nearly alone in liking compared to the big hits that everyone will have high up on their EOY chart, because for those what there is to say will have been said already, and probably in a better way than I could phrase it. As the highest UK hit in this list, Rather Be is probably where that comes to its most concentrated, because EVERYONE (or nearly everyone) has this up very high and is going to be talking about it. (and yet I still manage three large paragraphs)

Fortunately there are some great reasons for why it’s done so well for everyone, as Rather Be is about as perfect as you’re ever going to get a worldwide hit. Clever with instruments but not to the point where it gets over-complicated, some fantastically judged vocals from Jess Glynne, fun enough to dance to but laidback enough for drive-time, it is all things to all people and it doesn’t even suffer from that, which might be expected from other jack-of-all trades songs. The video really helps as well, at the height of its popularity I was watching the video from start to finish and loving the little story of the girl being chased by visions of the band, it’s unusual for a hit but that’s what makes it stands out.

Even though I had been impressed by Clean Bandit in the past with Mozart’s House I didn’t think they’d come out with something quite this amazing, they stay true to their style on here while giving it enough punch to be their breakthrough and that really works for me, as it did everyone else. When I saw them live this was put off until the very end and the cheer that erupted from the crowd when the first note of it was finally played was probably my favourite moment of that night. This was the other main tune along with Megitsune and A Lifetime of Adventure in the first half of the year and it’s continued on from there into the summer, where its summery feel truly shone. For all the reasons I’ve listed above, it’s probably my favourite song to hit the top spot on the UK charts since Fireflies and the year would have been a whole lot drier and less enjoyable without it.

2. Lights – Up We Go

It’s been a hard year, and I only know, from down this low, it’s only up we go, up we go

Yes, it’s quite a non-commercial top 2 this year, but then those were the hints I gave when I said this year has been the worst for mainstream music in quite a while. There have been glimmers of light, like Rather Be, but elsewise it has been underwhelming.

Anyway, on to Up We Go. Lights has always been a perennial favourite of mine but she’s been away for a few years with more important things like motherhood so this was definitely going to be an anticipated track by me. Then it came and I really liked it, but like lots of my favourite songs, I let it slip away for a bit before it came back and really hit me and from that moment on until right now I’ve been playing it loads. Really, a lot. It’s called ‘Up We Go’ so that should be a good indication but it’s happy and inspiring and makes me feel very very warm inside as the song goes over lyrics like ‘from down this road it’s only on we go’ as well as the title line, very inspiring stuff. It’s always been her vocals that draw me to her more than anything else and here they’re going right along with that feeling of the song, to go on and on and on no matter what’s in your way.

I can use songs like this, they really do lighten up my life a little. In my Lights ranking it is probably getting very near to challenging Ice, which is something I thought Lights could never match, but we’ll see how that battle holds up in future years. It is probably a bit of a shock #2 and for a while I was considering the #1 but it hasn’t really impacted my year like the #1 has, and if you guessed my #1 when I started this thread, well done, you win a cookie…

1. Lindsey Stirling – Shatter Me (feat. Lzzy Hale)

So cut me from the line, dizzy, spinning endlessly, somebody make me feel alive, and shatter me!

Some of the time I dislike being predictable (and this was so predictable if you knew me in 2014) but I don’t think that applies here, this is wonderful and life-defining and I would happily have screamed out that this was my #1 at the very start if it wouldn’t have made there far less point in counting this down. I will say that it wasn’t my #1 from the get-go of hearing it back in June, when I only listened because my brother was planning to get both of her albums and I was also rather interested in hearing more. Over the next month though, helped by me doing a rather successful nightcore version of it on a bit of a whim, it rather solidified itself as a true favourite and it would only get better, there were times in the summer where I would spend an entire night turning this up through my headphones, listening in total awe at the way the instrumental crashes and moves up and down, the movement of the violin as Lzzy yells out ‘SHATTER ME’ and ‘the world is spinning but only in gray’ (seriously, every time that happens I get a short feeling of elation running through me). And even without that, it is a rare piece of music where there is a vocalist and you really enjoy what she’s doing and really support her being on the song but also just want to sit back and listen to the rushing instrumental on its own, because it is just that good and a testament to Lindsey’s talents that she had created her best work and didn’t NEED someone singing, but chose to add to the track’s greatness by doing so anyway.

Nothing, nothing I have heard this year, or even in the past couple of years has had me obsessed quite like this, it is loud and it isn’t going to be for everyone but for those who do get it, it’s a whole new world of musical enjoyment. Every time I hear the clockwork creak that announces this track starting I prepare myself for love on all fronts, because this is one track really worth obsessing over.

Now make me feel alive and SHATTER ME! (still a true favourite if dulled a little from overplay)

Now, for the recap of what it would be now, and I don’t think much is changing now, unlike with the earlier years I think for the most part my opinions on most of these are the same but I’ll give a go at the top end:
1. Lindsey Stirling – Shatter Me (feat. Lzzy Hale)
2. Lights – Up We Go
3. BABYMETAL – Megitsune
4. Tuomas Holopainen – A Lifetime Of Adventure
5. Tuomas Holopainen – The Last Sled
6. BABYMETAL – Gimme Chocolate!!!
7. Kasabian – Eez-Eh
8. Clean Bandit – Rather Be (feat. Jess Glynne)
9.  Zhu – Faded
10. The Cab – Angel With A Shotgun (Nightcore)
11. Lilly Wood & The Prick – Prayer In C (Robin Schulz Remix)
12. Coldplay – A Sky Full Of Stars
13. Tove Lo – Not On Drugs
14. Tonight Alive – The Edge
15. Amaranthe – Drop Dead Cynical
16. RAM & Susana – RAMelia
17. Indila – Derniere Danse
18. Ain’t No Love – Love Me Lots (Bridge & Law Remix)
19. Within Temptation – Whole World Is Watching
20. Zhu – Paradise Awaits
As you can see, all of my original top 10 are still in the top 20 and there’s only a few moving up. I’m very happy with the order as presented in this post and most of that shuffling is only a bit of perfectionist moving around.

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