Monday, January 12, 2015

Best of 2014: Songs I Discovered

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On with the best of 2014! Today we're looking at the songs I first discovered during 2014. Doesn't mean they were released during 2014. Quite a few of them are much older.

Last year, I only really fell in love with 18 songs over the course of 2013. This year, I found 27 -- though six of those are from Heathers: The Musical. I covered a few of them in a blog post I wrote in April, but now you get all 27.

I've also compiled all the songs on this list into two YouTube playlists: this one for all the choices (except for the one I couldn't find), and this one for only the songs with no cursing. So that way all my readers can enjoy!

1. "Let It Go" from Frozen. I know, I know, this was everywhere, but that's because it's good. I got the soundtrack at the beginning of the year and listened to it a lot, but this is still the best track. The lyrics, the music, and the vocal performance are all perfect.

2. "Frozen Heart" from Frozen. This song opens the movie and was the one that convinced me this was going to be a fun one to watch. Of course, I have a fondness for male choruses anyway, but this is a great little song -- very atmospheric.

3. "Royals" by Lorde. I promise this list is going to be more than just the most popular songs of 2014. But there's just something fantastic about this song. It's got a unique sound and unique lyrics, and it's ridiculously catchy. Seriously, I'm pretty sure I had this stuck in my head for about half the year. And now you can too.

4. "When I Grow Up" from Matilda. Jacob and I got to see this show when we were in New York for our honeymoon, but it wasn't until 2014 that I finally got the cast recording. It's quite wonderful overall, but this is the song that really stuck out to me. It's so wistful and melancholy and beautiful.

5. "Cop Car" by Keith Urban. I am not typically a fan of country at all, but every so often a song will come along that just grabs me. This is one of them. I am kind of captivated by the song -- these adventurous and somewhat aggressive lyrics sung with such a sweet, lovely tune makes the song so interesting.

6. "Let It Go" by Caleb Hyles. This cover made the rounds on the Internet and when I got around to watching it, I ended up subscribing to this guy. It's easily my favorite cover version of this song. The first time around I found myself almost holding my breath, hoping he'd hit the high notes. And even though I obviously know he's going to every time because recordings don't magically change, it's still... kind of amazing to me.

7. "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me" from Burlesque. Let me make it clear: Burlesque was not a good movie. And most of Christina's songs were insanely overperformed. But this song by Cher ended up being a surprisingly wonderful piece. Very much in the style of big Broadway ballads, this song is everything I love about musicals.

8. "Mr. Chu" by A-Pink. I do enjoy Asian pop, and I don't listen to it nearly often enough. This song is insanely cheerful and great fun to listen to and dance along with.

9. "Night Cap" by Jacques Slade. This song is on the Community soundtrack, and it was used as a "party song" a couple times in the background of the show... but, oh my gosh, it's hilarious. It sounds like some sort of rap anthem, but it's all about wearing a night cap when you go to sleep. I am a big fan of songs that sound serious and then... aren't at all. So of course I was going to love this.

10. "Love Never Felt So Good" by Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake. Man, MJ and JT work so well together, musically. I'm very happy that this "contemporized" version of happened, because they sound great, and the song is another one that's just so cheerful. I love it.

11. "Separate Ways" by Journey. This is a song that I'd hear every so often, think, "What is that? I really like it. I should find it," and then not be able to find because I hadn't been paying attention to the lyrics. Then one day it came up on Pandora and I was like, "THAT'S THE SONG." So this probably could have been on a best of list like eight or nine years ago.

12. "Happy" by Pharrell Williams. I don't care how overplayed this song is, I love it. With all my heart. I can't listen to it and not feel a bit better.

13. "Tacky" by Weird Al Yankovic. I have to admit, my love for this song might be partly a love for "Happy" overflowing onto it... but I do really enjoy it. Especially the music video, which is just great fun.

14. "Fight for Me" from Heathers. And now begins the huge amount of songs from Heathers. This was the first one I really fell in love with -- a funny and sweet love song sung in a girl's mind to a boy she sees fighting.

15. "Dead Girl Walking" from Heathers. An incredible power anthem that actually inspired an entire mix on my blog because, gosh, I love it SO. MUCH.

16. "Lifeboat" from Heathers. In contrast to the last two, this is one of the saddest songs I've ever heard. It's sung by a character who is confessing that she's having suicidal thoughts, and as she sings, it becomes clear that the incredible pressure of being one of the popular ones is tearing her apart bit by bit. It's heartbreaking.

17. "Kindergarten Boyfriend" from Heathers. This song is absolutely going on the annual Anti-Love Mix I'll be posting next month. It's one of those songs I would have related to so strongly a few years ago, and even though I'm not full of unrequited love angst anymore, I still feel connected to this character. This song breaks me a little bit.

18. "Blue" from Heathers. All right... This song is probably the least family friendly of all the ones in this list, but it's one of the ones I love most. It's about two drunk high school jocks trying to convince the main girl in the show that they need to sleep with her. They do not succeed, but this ridiculous song has the musical sound of a boy band-style love song, and the lyrics... are not. It is hilarious and awkward and stupid and I really enjoy it.

19. "Change of Heart" from Love's Labour's Lost. This one, sadly, doesn't get to be on the YouTube playlist because it's not available on YouTube anywhere. It's a big dramatic ballad sung by a very intellectual character who was determined he'd never do anything as cliched a fall in love... and yet, here he finds himself doing that. It's a really lovely little song that makes me very happy.

20. "Meant to Be Yours" from Heathers. One of the songs at the very end of Heathers, once her boyfriend has gone full psycho killer. I LOVE how the song swings back and forth between angry gleeful murder plans and tender love song -- it's a great expression of his unstable mental state.

21. "Jeff" by Jeremy Morse. I rediscovered my love for songwriter Joe Iconis this year. He writes funny/sad songs that tell entire stories, and this is a perfect example. It's equal parts funny and tragic (more funny in the first half, more tragic in the second) and it's just fascinating to hear the story unfold.

22. "Michael in the Bathroom" by Seth Eliser. Another Joe Iconis song that taps into an experience that is awfully familiar to me and some of my introvert friends -- waiting in the bathroom at a party until you can go because you really don't feel like socializing just... at all.

23. "Lost" by Barrett Wilbert Weed. This performer was the lead in Heathers, and I fell in love with her in that show, so every so often I go searching for concert performances she's done, and this was my favorite, all about a girl getting lost in the mountains and separated from her boyfriend on what is turning into the worst date ever.

24. "The Shadow in the Door" by Bruce Robbins. I believe I found this song while reviewing it on Slice the Pie. The lyrics are rather silly and angsty, but I really enjoy the music, cheesy as it may be.

25. "Caramelldansen" by Caleb Hyles. So that guy who sang "Let It Go" and I subscribed to... he's done a lot of other covers, but this was the other one I really enjoyed this year. I love "Caramelldansen" anyway. So dancey!

26. "Gossip Folks" by Missy Elliott. I've been listening to a lot more women rappers in the last year, and Missy Elliott specifically in the last month or two, and this song is for sure my new favorite. It's just so cool and interesting to listen to. And I suppose it is also dancey, although in a very different way than "Caramelldansen."

27. "Not Perfect" by Tim Minchin. To end the mix on rather a contemplative note, here's a thoughtful and funny song from a comedy musician I really need to listen to more of, because every song I hear from him is kind of amazing.

What were your favorite new songs this year? Did you fall in love with any of these? Leave a comment and tell me!

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