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As 2014 draws to a close, it's time for my fellow music lovers and I to reflect on those songs that made us want to party, gave us a little more confidence, and just plain made us smile.
Without further ado, here are my Pop 14 picks for this year's best (in no particular order!)
1. “I'm Not The Only One” – Sam Smith
Newcomer Sam Smith crossed the pond and blew our minds with “Stay With Me”, also a fantastic song, but he floored me when he released “I'm Not The Only One.” It only confirmed that this man has soul way beyond his years, and more than likely his 2015 will be just as explosive as his debut year.
2. “Fancy” – Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX
This wasn't Iggy's breakout single, however it certainly solidified her spot in the charts. It also significantly increased Charli XCX's popularity, mere months before she released her third album, <i>Sucker</i>.
I guarantee that every car passing by your house last summer was blasting this hit. All of Iggy's recent drama aside, I can't resist this song when the beat drops and I bet most of you can't either!
3. “Bang Bang” – Jessie J featuring Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj
Not much needs to be said for this one. Three of the most popular women in the game got together and confirmed that we should not be underestimated. Jessie and Ariana in particular have had an iconic year, with the latter transitioning from children's television to the pop world with blinding speed.
4. “American Dream” - MKTO
MKTO are slowly but surely establishing themselves, first with their viral hit “Classic” earlier this year, and then the follow-up with this underrated gem. You may have caught them as the opening act for Demi Lovato's recent world tour.
One live performance of “American Dream” and I was hooked. As the title alludes, the track is about the inevitable ups and downs involved with reaching for your dreams. If this one isn't on your radar, you're missing out.
5. “Jealous” - Nick Jonas
Nick Jonas…are there any words to describe the way he debuted as a solo act this year? A bit of shock value (those photos
!) and a whole lot of sexy vocals, that’s what the youngest Jonas brother has brought to the charts. I wasn’t prepared for Nick all grown up, but I ain’t complainin’ either!
Nick has said this track was written to release some real jealousy; some guy at a bar was eyeing his girlfriend, former Miss USA Olivia Culpo, and Nick wasn’t too pleased about it. So instead of channeling his feelings win a way he’d surely regret later, he got creative
in the studio the next day. I approve, Nick.
6. “Latch” - Disclosure featuring Sam Smith
Not much needs to be said for this one—it speaks for itself. This is the song that really put Sam Smith on my radar. He and the Disclosure brothers made a great team, combining his smooth vocals with their incredible production.
7. “Not A Bad Thing” - Justin Timberlake
I’m a hopeless romantic, I’ll admit it. So when I heard that Justin was looking for a couple who got engaged
on the Long Island Railroad in New York with one of his songs playing in the background, I was hoping he’d eventually find them. However, he never did. This beautiful song and its accompanying music video resulted, though, and I’m pretty happy with that.
8. “All Of Me” - John Legend
Hands down one of the most beautiful love songs of the year.
9. “Thinking Out Loud” - Ed Sheeran
To me, anything that Ed Sheeran touches is gold. He has lyrical skill, and manages to achieve emotional strength in his most of his music that I don't think many artists out there right now can pull off, honestly. And “Thinking Out Loud” is a perfect example. It's poetry, pure and simple.
10. “Don't” by Ed Sheeran
One of my favorite things about Ed's music is when he tells a story through song. He gives us us a play-by-play of a relationship that started out being just for fun, but quickly escalated into heartbreak. Rumors flew as soon as the song was released, because Ed makes it clear in the lyrics that the woman he was involved with is just as famous as he is.
Most of us know who it's about at this point, but I'll let you find out for yourself if you don't.
11. “Heroes” - Alesso featuring Tove Lo
Tove Lo is another newcomer who has taken the music scene by storm in a matter of months, it seems. Her vocals are powerful on this record, accompanying Alesso's dance track. Above it all, I love the message this song brings.
12. “Blank Space” - Taylor Swift
This is one of Taylor's more brilliant endeavors, I'd say. It's the perfect satire based on the media's portrayal of her over the years, and deserves some serious applause.
13. “Love Me Harder” - Ariana Grande featuring The Weeknd
Ariana Grande did something right by teaming up with The Weeknd. He's a great vocalist, and one who's quite underrated if you ask me.
Ariana's trend with her recent singles, whether consciously or not, has been a pretty empowering message for women, and I really like that. This one's no different—either love me better than you're loving me now, or you're gonna lose me altogether.
14. The Heart Wants What It Wants – Selena Gomez
This is very recent, but I think it deserves a nod. Selena got a lot of criticism for this one, the most cynical being that she was trying to stay relevant by using her relationship with Justin Bieber as much as she could.
The truth is, no one knows why she really wrote this song or decided to release such a candid music video. However, I like to believe that most musicians, even those as big as Selena, still use music as therapy. And that's what this was—therapy. Everyone watched their tumultuous relationship play out in the spotlight. If writing this song was cleansing for her, then so be it. And the fact remains that it's real and raw, which is where a lot of beauty comes from.
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