My Favorite Songs of 2014

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Feature Image Via SoundIsStyle

When you live in a big city and spend an absurd amount of time on public transit, your iPod is your best friend–My iPod is actually my longest-lasting relationship. And as you may know, my musical tastes could use some Adderall, but these are the 50 songs that kept me most sane this year.

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I’m so glad Sam Smith took up where Adele left off in 2014. This song just sucks you in the minute it starts with that booming drum. And who doesn’t know all the words to this one? Radio didn’t really give us a choice. It was like, “You will listen to this song 20 times a day and you will like it.” We did.

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I don’t really have a long list of ex-lovers to really relate, but according to a Buzzfeed quiz, I’m capable of smashing a guy’s car with a golf club. I see it. Is anyone else really happy T-Swift finally switched over to pop? It’s also refreshing that the whole truck bed and fireflies era is over. I like psycho Swift. Good work.

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Happiness. This was my official morning song for a month straight this past spring. I’d wake up on the weekend, turn on this song and just take in the morning light. That’s all it took for me to be happy. Imagine being Jessica Beal and actually having that same morning, except JT is actually next to you.

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Heeeey-ey-ey! One Direction wasn’t the only boy band stirring up 9-year-old girls’ tears this year. 5SOS and their ode to American Apparel underwear (which sadly passed without any A.A. sponsorship–their loss) had me jamming like a fool. I also learned to be super careful with my Snapchat from these guys. Thanks for the song and the help, guys!

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Oh, John Legend. This song gives me so many feels. I JUST WANT TO BE CHRISSY TEIGEN. If any of you saw his performance at the Billboard Music Awards, you’d maybe understand the aura I feel: a beautiful man, a polished, black piano and dimly-lit retro light bulbs. It is magical.

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So, from sweet and loving to hard and dirty. An ode to R. Kelly’s hit debut album, this song features two of our most suave R&B fellas joining forces to take our pants off for us. I ain’t mad. If you want a good slow jam with a killer hook, this is it.

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Last year I didn’t bat an eye at this song from Prism. Then when it became an official single this year, it stuck, and then I couldn’t get enough. I was humming it. It was my ringtone. I craved tacos like crazy. Katy Perry is capable of creating audible cocaine and I don’t know how she does it. An ode to besties and all of the shenanigans you got into (orand still do, hopefully), this song has a catchy swag you can’t shake.

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It wasn’t even intentional for TWO 5SOS songs to end up in my top ten, but, damn, it happened. I don’t know what it is about this song, but it’s perfect. Part throwback to the days of Good Charlotte, Bowling For Soup and All-Time Low, part chill production, “Never Be” was a perfect gem off of their debut album.

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There was no better hook in music in 2014 than the first ten seconds of this summer jam: Dun, Dun-Dun. Buh-duh Dun Dun-Dun. Buh-duh Dun Dun-Dun, Buh-duh Dun–“First thing’s first, I’m the realest.” BOOM. Iggy Iggz was all up in our face outta nowhere. And then the hilarious Jimmy Kimmel skit happened. To me, this was the most iconic song of 2014 and one of those tracks that you will always remember for the rest of your life–love it or hate it.

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First of all, the album art is perfection. Look at those fine ass headlights and taillights. That alone accounts for 10% of a great single. This song is so euphoric to me and makes me feel alive. It came at a time when I was away with some close friends on a weekend trip to Palm Springs and would play every time we were in the car. From there it just developed this whole piece of nostalgia itself which carried me through the rest of the year. EVERYBODY FIST PUMP.

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WATCH: Usher’s Getting Lippy In “Good Kisser” Video

Time to put your lips to the test. Ursher, baby is turning up the swag in his new music video. The track is the lead single from his upcoming eighth studio album, which is still untitled–or is it? The video opens with a dark room lit only by a neon “XY.” Could that be the name for the new set? Since biology 101 has been a hot minute for most: “XY” are the chromosomes that make up a male human. It’s a pretty dope album title if you ask me. But back to the song, check it out below:

After the “Voice” coach went EDM on his 2012 album, Looking 4 Myself, it appears he is returning to his smooth R&B vibes that we all fell in love with way-back-when. “Good Kisser” features lots of funk, lots of the cool moves and lots of that sweet falsetto that could charm a rattlesnake right out of its pot–not euphemistic at all. Parts of the flick are also reminiscent of D’Angelo’s “How Does It Feel” video–you know, the one where he’s just naked under a shower head the whole time?

What do you guys think? Are we happy he’s getting sensual again?

The answer is: Yes.

Steamy Jelena dance routine surfaces

Are they? Are they not? The debate around Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez’s relationship status has been just as flighty as—well, Justin’s sanity recently. Days after Bieber posted a picture of  his ex-girl on Instagram, claiming how gorgeous she is, this dance video from their weekend rendezvous in Texas was posted to YouTube.

Yesterday, reports from the Canadian pop star’s legal deposition (something about a photog being roughed up by his bodyguard blah blah blah) claimed the Biebz got infuriated when asked about Gomez.

“Don’t ask me about her again,” he said multiple times before storming out of the room.

Whether or not it’s official, I think it’s safe to say Selena wants in on the train wreck. God bless.

50 Shades of Fierce: Watch this man WERK to Beyoncé…in heels.

Heels and attitude have never looked so cool before today.

French choreographer Yanis Marshall lit up the “So You Think You Can Dance” Ukraine stage in a performance of Beyonce’s “Grown Woman.”

The dancer is infamous for his steamy and wild Youtube videos, all of which are done in heels, of course. That child must have been born in stilettos because I have never even seen Bey work it out like that–running and jumping around like a damn fool with a demeanor that reads, “No big deal.” If you’re not in awe yet, Marshall posted on his Youtube video that he whipped the whole performance together in three hours.

I’m just bitter with envy.

Best Day Ever: ‘Midnight Memories’ leaks

onedirectionmidnightmemories“And we danced all night to the best song ever…”

This lyric could not be more accurate as millions of Directioners are in the midst of a meltdown tonight of epic proportions as the British boyband’s “Midnight Memories” trickled online earlier today. The third studio album from One Direction was due out Nov. 25, but met the inevitable fate of the digital music word: leakage. The 18-track set exhibits an evolved sound for the lads, an ’80’s pop/rock flair mixed with folky, campfire vibes. There is much to be danced to.

I was already having a great day today. I had brunch with some friends at an outdoor cafe. I got in some retail therapy. (Can I just brag that I got a rocking black peacoat, originally $100 for $35?). And best of all, it was the tree lighting at the Grove! I was amid the Christmas madness at the Grove when I got word that “Midnight Memories” leaked. My reaction:

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And after the tears dried:

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And my confused friends:

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To top it all off, after rocking out to the new One Direction material, Katy Perry goes and announces her Prism World tour.

#dead

Album Review: Lady Gaga, “ARTPOP”

ladygagaartpop2It’s been a while since we’ve had new creations from the Mother Monster. Twenty Madonna feuds and a disintegrating hip later, ARTPOP has arrived. Even though it was just released this week, five tracks (from my count) had already surfaced, so we all had a pretty good inclination that this album was going to be completely weird and dance happy–in a good way.

1. Aura: 8/10

Interesting intro, a kind of Middle Eastern meets country-western vibe. I like the message behind the song. The robot man breakdown is so good. Oh, hell, now there’s clapping. We all love clapping. I could see how some would find this disjointed; it’s kind of like five songs in one, but I don’t mind it…This is fun! If this is any indication for what’s to come, we’re in for one hell of a spacey, jamming concoction of Gaga-ness.

2. Venus: 3/10

If Gaga, Abba and David Bowie had a threesome and birthed a child, this would be it. I would give the child up for adoption. Next.

3. G.U.Y.: 5/10

I feel like I’m sitting in a rocket ship getting ready to blast off into something absolutely crazy and slightly terrifying, and Gaga is my flight attendant. Such good build in the pre-chorus and then it falls flat. Nice beats though. And there she goes shouting random German words again.

4. Sexxx Dreams: 7/10

OOohhhh. Dark, mysterious and sexy. Shocking given the title, right? The quasi-sequel to “So Happy I Could Die.” Good cruising song for nighttime. Approved.

5. Jewels n’ Drugs Ft. T.I., Too Short & Twista: 9/10

I don’t even know what to think going into this one. This is actually pretty tight so far. OK, OK, Gaga is a bonafide hood bitch now. This song is so dope. I’m really liking this. This is going to be a hot club jam.

6. Manicure: 8/10

Oh, Mickey you’re so fine. You’re so fine, you blow my mind. Anyone else hearing that? Or what about “This shit is bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s? An angst-y, clap-happy anthem everyone will love. This song is oodles of pop/rock fun. I thought it was called “Manicure” though? What’s this “Man-Chuh”?

7. Do What U Want Ft. R. Kelly: 10/10

I love this collaboration. Their voices mesh so well together. Is it weird I’m liking the R&B Gaga more than the pop Gaga ARTPOP? I know this wasn’t supposed to be a single, but then it took off like crazy on iTunes so Gaga just kind of went with it. This song is just much more commercial and mainstream than the rest of this very…avant garde pop-ery. One of my favorites, for sure.

8. Artpop: 4/10

Robotica. Spacey. I don’t know what it is, but sometimes there’s this weird pitch thing when she morphs her voice and it’s so discordant, as in the pre-chorus. Modern disco with some groove, but pretty underwhelming.

9. Swine: 2/10

Gross. Just the name makes me want to skip. Here we go…another club banger. Can’t wait to get down to “Swine.” Awkward. “You’re just a pig in a human body.” Well, I think we all get what this is about. I just can’t . I can’t. Ew, pigs. I refuse to be caught jamming to a pig-inspired celebration.

10. Donatella: 7/10

“And I’m a little bit of a bitch.” Mhmm. I’m liking where this is going. Actually, that’s all I like. It’s funky and witty, but not really hitting that sweet spot in my ears in parts. I know I’m going to like it though when I hear it out at clubs though, just not while walking to class. The second half is definitely better than the first half. An instant gay culture classic. Now I have to go watch “The Devil Wears Prada.” Damn you, Gaga.

11. Fashion!: 4/10

Was not expecting the piano intro. How many songs can one have about fashion, though. Seriously. A bit much. Sounds like a bad musical. Over-the-top vocals. Where are the fashion police? Arrest this!

12. Mary Jane Holland: 4/10

Hmm. I wonder what oh what this could be about. I feel like the album is just slipping away at this point. This just isn’t offering much. It’s OK at best.

13. Dope: 3/10

Eerie. Way dramatic. The only ballad thus far. Nope to Dope.

14. Gypsy: 9/10

That beat in the chorus just dropped. I’m seeing hearts and stars. It’s like an upbeat “You and I.” This song is really cute. It’s all about being in love and traveling the world, but in my head it’s from Four Seasons to Four Seasons. Still romantic-ish. Ok, well I could do without the “Finding Nemo” “MINE!” “MINE!” bit of the song–just a tad off-putting.

15. Applause: 8/10

This was such an underwhelming debut track after months off of the charts. I mean, it’s not terrible, but it’s not like a HERE I AM, BACK IN BUSINESS kinda record. Plus I have haunting memories of that drag Peter Pan from the lyric video. Legit creeps. Catchy and appealing to the masses so it was a smart choice, just was waiting for something groundbreaking. Nice way to close out the album.

Overall: 6/10

This album left me feeling kind of lost and questioning Gaga’s musical direction. Many of the tracks are heavily, heavily produced, and the vocals are overly theatrical and dramatic, for. That’s fine if that’s what she wants to do, it just doesn’t sit well with me. I miss “The Fame Monster” Gaga. It seems with each album she progressively gets farther and farther away from a sound that is appealing to me. It’s becoming so abstract that it is leaving the realm of identifiable pop music. Not that it’s bad, again, I just won’t be on this train much longer if that’s the case. However, there are some elements that I wish she would continue to explore, mostly the R&B flare; her voice suits it surprisingly well.

Album Review: Jessica Mauboy, “Beautiful”

jessmauboyMany of you might not know who Jessica Mauboy is so, here’s a brief intro:

Jess was the runner-up on “Australian Idol” in 2006. Shortly after, her career blew up with her 2008 debut album, “Been Waiting,” and its lead single, “Running Back,” which went double-platinum. She has enjoyed commercial success in Australia throughout her career and opened for Beyoncé on her Down Under leg of the “I Am…” tour. Jess is a hybrid version of Katy Perry and Beyonce; her sultry, edgy voice lends itself well to R&B, and her larger-than-life personality exudes sunny pop. “Beautiful,” is her third album, following 2010’s “Get ‘Em Girls.”

1. Beautiful: 6/10

Catchy, but the chorus is lacking when it hits its stride repeating “beautiful.” Generic. Man, the start was so promising.

2. Kiss Me Hello: 7/10

Ooh. Fun intro–like Britney’s “Touch of My Hand” opener. Better than “Beautiful,” but still not jumping at me. Cool production though.

3. Pop A Bottle: 9/10

Obvious catchy pop masterpiece. Feel good. Wish this would have been out during our summer. The second half of the song is magical starting with the : “Give me, give me more, let it pour, till it overflows…” bit to the break down of the chorus. Yay to senseless pop music that puts a smile on my face!

4. I Believe: 9/10

Wasn’t expecting this to be clubby. But ok. Mhmm. Liking it. I hate when clowns rain on me too. Such a pain. “You live and learn.” Amen sister. Self-empowering club music. Always a good combo. Wait…is anyone else hearing “Good Time” in the verses? The phrasing is very similar. I’m definitely going to be stupid dancing to this in my room or in the shower. Yup. Gonna happen. This needs a remix though. Good starting point.

5. Never Be the Same: 6/10

Here comes the inner-Beyoncé. The phrasing is very “Halo”-esque in the verses. Production reminds me of “Scariest Part” from “Get ‘Em Girls.” It’s all about growing up and moving away from home to do big things and forever being changed. It’s actually kind of depressing…and “Beautiful” takes a turn for the melancholic.

6. In Love Again: 7/10

And now back to the R&B Jess from “Been Waiting.” Her voice just sounds awesome on this. She almost has a Mariah-like tonality in her lower register…that rugged whisper. Beauteous.

7. Honest: 6/10

Like the ominous sound. This album is hella master produced. Who can’t relate to a liar? The arrangement reminds me of Riri’s “Cold Case Lover.” Decent track.

8. I’ll Be There: 10/10

Oh damn. Loving it. Yup. This is my fav track on the album. Sounds very Mike Will Made It. Chill cruising song. You know I love those. My jam. Lyrics are a tad corny but I don’t care. Vibing right now.

9. Go (I Don’t Need You): 6/10

Eerie and haunting. My head was moving. Not earth-shattering.

10. Heartbreak Party: 10/10

My second fav on the album. That bass. That chorus. “I got one thing on my mind and you need to know it isn’t you.” #burn. It’s a breakup anthem that is irresistibly addicting. I’m not going through a breakup but I feel like a badass bitch. Take that you non-existent betrayer!

11. Barriers: 8/10

I really like this one! At first I passed it up, but it’s growing. The melody is so good. Makes you wanna sing along and harmonize. It sounds very Jordin Sparks-y and I can’t really explain why.

12. To the End of the Earth: 8/10

OK I was so pumped when this came out: it signaled new J-Mally material! It starts so well. Love the ethereal, space-y vibe. I remember being disappointed with the chorus at first for being to restrained because you have that huge build up with the clapping–clapping is always good–and then it falls a little flat with some chanting and minimalist lyrics. Well, I still kind of that way but I’ve gotten over it. It’s interesting she chose this as the first release because it sounds nothing like the rest of the album, then again, Jess doesn’t really ever create “thematic” albums. I mean, what does “Beautiful,” mean?

13. Kick Up Your Heels: 4/10

No. No. No……No. It was kind of fun and peppy until the bridge and then I just couldn’t handle it anymore. Oh, and then the chorus hit! Stop the madness! It’s like Mr. Saxobeat had a baby with Pitbull’s “Back In Time.” Obvz that’s no cute child. I’m going to have nightmares of vigorous jazz hands.

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Album Average: 7/10. I feel “Beautiful” is similar to “Get ‘Em Girls” in a lot of ways. There tends to be the same mix-matched selection of juicy pop creations and dramatic R&B tunes. It would be nice to see Jess maybe release a more personal album next. I’m thinking something more along the lines of Beyonce’s “4,” which stylistically would suit Jess’s voice very well! But this is overall a good set of fun-loving songs to keep you infected until the next release.

[Image via Josepvinaixa.com]

#Addicted: Loreen

World, Loreen. Loreen, world.

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Loreen (née Lorine Talhaoui) is a Swedish pop singer and badass fashionista. She came to fame in Sweden when she competed in the country’s version of “American Idol” in 2004 where she placed fourth. Worldwide fame fell upon the edgy diva when she blew past the competition and won the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest, representing Sweden with her entry, “Euphoria.”

I came across “Euphoria” and, subsequently, Loreen, while randomly perusing Tumblr. The song was an instant hit for me. So then I decided to sample her album, “Heal.” Now, Eurovision is kind of a joke of sorts in Europe, so I wasn’t really expecting anything…impactful, but was I ever wrong. Track after track I became an even bigger fan.

Her voice is just dope. She has such a sweet spot in her lower register. But more appealing to me is someone who has great control of their voice and knows how to use it as an instrument and an extension to the production. Speaking of production, the sound on the album is tailored to my predilection for chill, night music. She somehow blurs R&B, pop and eurodance genres all into one for a unique sound. To show the variety, there is “Everytime,” a trippy R&B track and “Crying Out Your Name,” a powerful dance number.

That’s just the music, now what about her?

Loreen is just badass, for lack of a better attribute. She has her own style that is just on point and…cool. She’s a cool cat. There’s also this primal, Native American-like infusion in her styling that is just so unique and I love it. She’s a true artist in all aspects and it reflects in her music, image, videos, or any other facet of her career.

And she Hammer-timed on an international competition–like, come on.

“We Got the Power,” is her latest single. The artistic direction is so cool. I love her vibe. Can’t wait for more!

#Addicted: “Work Bitch” Video

Work Bitch

Work that door.

One word: Dayyyyummmmm.

It’s been a couple of weeks and I still cannot get over how flawless the “Work Bitch” video is. This is full on 2001 Britney at her finest. Sure, she’s put out some OK stuff from then until now (I wasn’t a very big fan of “Circus” though), and “Femme Fatale” was definitely a step in the right direction. But this? It’s Britney, bitch. And she is back (in the form of the Michael Scott Paper Co.–couldn’t resist, “Office” fans), along with her body–choreography is almost there. Still rocking the “doorography” (shoutout to Michael Buckley for this amazing term).

Here are some of the things I noticed:

Anyone else having flashbacks to the Spice Girls’ “Say You’ll Be There” video? Pop music and deserts just go together.

Didn’t anyone tell Brit not to be standing in a garage with a running car? Carbon monoxide, I hear, isn’t fun.

Quick! Game time! How many shameless advertisements can you squeeze into three minutes?! Go!

I’m glad I’m not the only one that likes to wear designer dresses in the middle of shark-infested pools.

I love every single wardrobe selection. Every one. Werk gurl.

Now, if for some reason you had better things to do, like discovering the joy of childbirth or learning why Chinese food is so great, here it is in all its glory: