Last week your friendly neighborhood VH1 staffers gave you their picks for the best albums of 2014. Now as we inch even closer to a new year, we’re back with our favorite songs from the last 12 months. From Sam Smith’s explosive debut featuring numerous new-classics, to Taylor Swift’s ubiquitous chart smashes, 2014 served up some incredible ear candy. Let’s relive some choice cuts!
Sia’s passionate “Chandelier” earned the title of VH1’s Staff Pick of the Year, showing up on a whopping 5 lists. Other tunes that made multiple appearances include:
Sam Smith, “I’m Not The Only One” (4 votes)
Charli XCX, “Boom Clap” (4 votes)
Tove Lo, “Habits (Stay High)” (4 votes)
Clean Bandit ft. Jesse Glynne, “Rather Be” (3 votes)
Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk (3 votes)
Nick Jonas, “Jealous” (3 votes)
FKA Twigs, “Two Weeks (3 votes)
But enough about the stats— Let’s get to the music!
VH1 STAFF PICKS FOR THE BEST SONGS OF 2014
1. Les Sins, “Bother”
The catchy “Don’t bother me/I’m workin’” refrain totally rings true.
2. Thom Yorke, “A Brain In A Bottle”
Vocal modulation and electronic beats are all Thom Yorke needs to keep winning.
3. Little Dragon, “Klapp Klapp”
You’ll nod your head while getting lost in this vocally cacophonous track.
4. Sam Smith, “Stay With Me”
June’s You Oughta Know artist took the world by storm with his ballad. If the chorus didn’t stir your soul, you don’t know what life is.
5. Sia, “Chandelier”
With “Chandelier,” Sia proved pop can contain raw emotion and still rock.
6. Prince, “Funknroll”
Prince fans have long been wary of his recent output, knowing he’ll never recapture his `80s fame. But “Funknroll,” from the first half of his September dual release, sees Prince bring the heat back. The song blends nasty funk riffs, drum claps, and EDM, making listeners want to dance until they collapse.
7. Nick Thorburn, “Bad Dream (The Theme)”
Serial fans longed for Nick Thorburn’s theme every Thursday since October. The staccato notes signaled more clues from Sarah Koenig’s engrossing investigation. The theme was also catchy all by itself.
8. Action Bronson, “Easy Rider”
The rapper still sounds like Ghostface Killah, but his lyrical skills can’t be ignored.
9. Michael Jackson ft. Justin Timberlake, “Love Never Felt So Good”
Michael’s been gone for over five years, but “Love Never Felt So Good” gave us another glimpse of the talent we lost.
10. Beyonce ft. Nicki Minaj, “Flawless (remix)”
There’s no way Bey can’t win, especially with Nicki Minaj by her side.
SANDY ALOUETE, SVP Talent & Music Programming
1. Tove Lo “Habits”
2. Pharrell “Happy”
3. Charli XCX “Boom Clap”
4. Maroon 5 “Animals”
5. Iggy Azalea ft Charli XCX “Fancy”
6. Ed Sheeran “Don’t”
7. Paramore “Ain’t It Fun”
8. Jessie J, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj “Bang Bang”
9. Sam Smith “Stay With Me”
10. Hozier “Take Me To Church”
1. Paolo Nutini “Iron Sky”
2. Sam Smith “I’m Not The Only One”
3. Clean Bandit “Rather Be”
4. JUNGLE “Busy Earnin’ ”
5. Ella Eyre “Comeback”
6. Duke Dumont “I Got U”
7. Jessie Ware “You & I (Forever)”
8. Seinabo Sey “You”
9. Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars “Uptown Funk”
10. Calvin Harris ft. Haim “Pray To God”
11. SOHN “Artifice”
12. George Ezra “Did You Hear The Rain?”
13. Lykke Li “Gunshot”
14. Nick Jonas “Jealous”
15. My Brightest Diamond “Lover Killer”
16. Wet “You’re The Best”
1. FKA twigs, “Two Weeks”
Perfect for a rainy day commute.
2. J. Cole, “G.O.M.D.”
I love how the song goes through an evolution within the 5 minutes and 1 second it lives. And the beat, courtesy of Cole, is hot.
3. Grace Mitchell, “Runaway”
I got addicted to this song and had it on heavy rotation for weeks. I lover her EP and I can’t wait to see her grow as an artist.
4. D’Angelo & The Vanguard, “Really Love”
D’Angelo’s comeback couldn’t have come at a better time for me. This song is timeless.
5. Nicki Minaj, “Four Door Aventador”
The Pinkprint is definitely Nicki’s best album and this song is one of the reasons why.
6. BANKS, “Goddess”
BANKS’ whole debut album is a masterpiece. “Goddess” is that “you fucked up” song that doesn’t get old.
7. Childish Gambino ft. Young Scooter, “Move That Dope/Nextel Chirp/Let Your Hair Blow”
Best song on the mixtape.
8. Lykke Li, “No Rest For The Wicked”
Anything from Lykke Li is worth listening to once. In this case, many times.
9. Sam Smith, “I’m Not The Only One”
I pretty much got sick of “Stay With Me” but I haven’t gotten sick of this yet.
10. Pharrell Williams ft. Alicia Keys, “Know Who You Are”
This is that song you blast while walking to work feeling like a million bucks. It gets you under that #PharrellSpell
1. Ed Sheeran, “Don’t”
Who doesn’t love a white boy with soul? Even better, a white ginger with soul. This song is super catchy and you know it. But the question remains: which fellow jet-setter is he singing about?!
2. Nick Jonas, “Jealous”
I knew I wasn’t the only fangirl over this song when every woman of every age and color was jamming out to it in my Zumba class. Another white boy with soul, FTW.
3. Selena Gomez, “The Heart Wants What It Wants”
I’m over the Biebs and everything having to do with him, but I can’t lie at the fact that I’m definitely feeling this beat.
4. Nick Jonas, “Numb”
Could possibly be the most underrated track on Nick’s latest self-titled album. And for the record, “Jealous” isn’t the only song with the f-bomb!
5. G.R.L., “Ugly Heart”
You may recognize this upbeat track from ABC’s Fall TV campaign. But don’t let the failed rom-coms ruin the song for you, because it’s awesome. Girl power, baby.
1. D’Angelo, “Prayer”
Thank you heavenly father for bringing this man back onto the music scene — he’s got lots to offer! And I’m really feeling this heavenly offering right here…
2. Childish Gambino, “Late Night in Kauai”
His comedic chops make it a little difficult to take him seriously on the music tip, but this song showcases just how deep and insightful Gambino can be! Props for his lyrical flow and fly falsetto. Love that the tune also features Jaden Smith.
3. Mali Music, “Beautiful”
I just feel better about the world and my place in it when I listen to this song. It’s one of my “pick me up” and “count my blessings” songs that I can get my groove and my gratitude on to.
4. Teyana Taylor, “Do Not Disturb”
What a sexy little single from this sexy little lady! Chris Brown makes me love the song twice as much.
5. Nao, “Adore You”
So much to love about this song! Lyrics, production, vocals… The perfect song to vibe out to.
6. Ju-Taun, “Come Closer”
If you don’t know about this band, you will. This song is proof that they have the stuff stars are made of. Love the rootsy reggae interlude in this song.
7. Tamar Braxton, “Let Me Know”
I heard this song on the radio and it when it was done I wanted to hear it again. I ain’t mad at Toni Braxton’s little sister on this one.
8. K.Michelle, “Love ’Em All”
I’m seriously entertained by her fresh, and somewhat twisted, take on love. She’s adds a dynamic new voice to a conversation that been’s around since the beginning of time. I’m rooting for her to find love!
9. Luke James, “Options”
This song showcased an edgier, grittier side to the totally talented James, and I wasn’t mad at him!
10. Jazmine Sullivan, “Dumb”
Her vocal transitions give me chills. What a voice! And what a feisty “check yourself before you wreck yourself” track!
CHUCK JOHNSON, Social Media Coordinator
1. Sia, “Chandelier”
The video alone is enough to make this the #1 song of 2014. The fact that this mega-pop smash actually has lyrics of substance only helps to secure its spot.
2. Carrie Underwood, “Something In The Water”
Usually when artist announce a Greatest Hits album the 1 or 2 new songs are kind of so so. I honestly didn’t expect much from this record but once the choir comes in with “Amazing Grace” towards the end I was sold.
3. Rae Sremmurd, “No Type”
The anthem to every HBCU homecoming this fall. It’s fun, catchy, and best experienced with a crowd belting out the unforgettable chorus.
4. Studio, “Schoolboy Q”
Schoolboy Q cements his place in mainstream hip hop with this radio friendly number that still retains street cred thanks to a throwback Swiff D beat. Easy riding music at its best.
5. Taylor Swift, “Blank Space”
One can appreciate this song for being a lot less hyper than “Shake It Off”. T. Swift excels with this smoother, more laid back, and mature pop sound.
6. Charli XCX, “Boom Clap”
I know nothing about “The Fault In Our Stars” (besides the fact that it causes extreme crying) but what I do know is that movie gave me this fun song. Plus, Charli made onomatopoeias cool again!
7. Ariana Grande ft. The Weeknd, “Love Me Harder”
It’s interesting to hear Ariana enter into the mellow synth world of The Weekend. Surprisingly, the odd pairing works and their combined voices shine on the mature track.
8. Chris Brown, “Loyal”
As much as I tried to resist this song, I couldn’t deny its sing-along factor. Say what you will about Mr. Brown, the man has talent and this song (and video) put that on full display.
9. Danity Kane ft. Tyga, “Lemonade”
All good things must come to an end. Thankfully Aubrey, Shannon, & Dawn (this is post-Aundrea DK3, after all) left us with this Clipse-sampled gem before their breakup. With a hard knocking beat and fun rap verse this song could’ve been a hit. SMH.
10. Sam Smith, “Leave Your Lover”
This song is one of Sam’s most vulnerable moments on “In The Lonely Hour”. As an ode to unrequited love, he successfully pulls at your heartstrings and makes you feel and understand his pain.
CHRISTINA LEAKE, Social Media Manager (@_bobina)
1. Elliphant ft Mø, “One More”
2. In this moment, “Sex Metal Barbie”
3. Teammate, “Goldmine”
4. Asher Roth, “Tangerine Girl”
5. Misterwives, “Reflections”
6. Vance Joy, “Mess Is Mine”
7. Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk”
8. Pharrell Williams, “Marilyn Monroe”
9. Oh Honey, “Lonely Neighbor (What Am I To You?)”
10. VanLadyLove, “Neverland”
1. Ilovemakonnen ft. Drake, “Tuesday”
2. Rae Sremmurd, “No Flex Zone”
3. Big Sean, “I Don’t Fuck With You”
4. Sia, “Chandelier”
5. Charli XCX, “Boom Clap”
6. YG ft. Drake, “Who Do You Love?”
7. Dreezy, “Chiraq”
8. Nicki Minaj ft. Beyonce, “Feelin’ Myself”
9. Katy Perry ft. Juicy J, “Dark Horse”
10. Elle Varner, “Fuck it All”
1. Beyonce, “7/11”
“I’m fresher than yoooooou.” The beat and the video are crazy. She stepped out of her traditional sound and I loved it! The #Beygency will approve this message.
2. Drake, “Heat of the Moment”
Nothing but sexiness is spewed on this track. That’s all you need to know. Now go listen to it.
3. Chris Brown ft Lil Wayne and Tyga, “Loyal”
The moment this song drops, people go apeshi*t. This song is hard to deny on the dance floor.
4. Mase ft. Eric Bellinger, “Nothing”
I was a little sketch ballsy about Mase’s pseudo return but when I heard the beat drop, I immediately started doing my Mase dance *throws hands in the air and screams Harlem World*
5. Miguel, “Simplethings”
He can sing the most disrespectful thing ever and still do no wrong. Sing that sh*t, M.
6. ScHoolboy Q ft BJ the Chicago Kid, “Studio”
Need I say more! I was late with this one but better late than never.
7. Majid Jordan, “Her”
I KNEEEEW this song was a smash from the beginning. The video is dope as hell.
8. Pharrell Williams ft Justin Timberlake, “Brand New”
I seriously feel brand new every time I hear this song plus my legs start doing their own little river dance routine. It’s that catchy!
9. TeeFLii ft 2 Chainz, “24 Hours”
I heard this song out in Cali this summer and couldn’t stop bobbing my head. The lyrics are ratchet as hell but I’m okay with that. I allow myself at least two ratchet songs a year!
10. Tyga ft Young Thug- “Hookah”
This is my second ratchet song of the year. I will not deny my ears a good beat plus the lyrics are funny as hell.
11. Nicki Minaj ft Drake and Lil Wayne, “Truffle Butter”
MORE FIYAH! MORE FIYAH! MORE FIYAH! This beat slays. Wayne chose well his Young Money dream team wisely. Their synergy on this track is amazing! Nicki deserves rounds for this one.
12. Phantogram, “Fall In Love”
This was such a non-traditional sounding love song.
13. Miguel, “Coffee”
He just dropped an EP before the end of the year and this was my favorite song. Miguel has that voice and could do no wrong musically in my eyes.
1. A Great Big World, “Rockstar”
If you need a cute little pick-me-up, this song is sure to do it. And who doesn’t like a story about following your dreams?
2. 5 Seconds Of Summer, “Amnesia”
This song will fill you with heart-break, but it is so honest that it’s hard not to listen to it over and over again on repeat.
3. Walk The Moon, “Shut Up And Dance”
Such a great beat and guaranteed to put a smile on your face, this song is pure genius. No wonder it’s a hit.
4. Bleachers,”I Wanna Get Better”
Jack Antonoff can do no wrong! Rocking it out of the park as part of fun., his new project Bleachers is sure to not disappoint.
5. Tove Lo, “Talking Body”
Raw sexual prowess is the only way we can describe Tove Lo, and this song will show you exactly what we mean.
6. Echosmith, “Nothing’s Wrong”
This song has a fun melody and catchy chorus. We challenge you to try to NOT tap your foot to this one.
7. Sara Bareilles, “I Choose You”
Just watch the music video. You’ll see why we love this song.
8. Walk The Moon, “Avalanche”
Walk The Moon is bring techno-synth back and rocking it! This song is just simply great.
9. Tove Lo, “Timebomb”
This song starts out slow, but when it picks up all you want to do is dance. And seeing Tove Lo perform it live is beyond amazing!
10. Becky G, “Shower”
Who doesn’t love a nice vocal percussion session half way through a song?! This song is so addicting, and perfect to belt in the shower, (couldn’t stop myself there).
1. Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk”
2. Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj, “Bang Bang”
3. Clean Bandit ft. Jesse Glynne, “Rather Be”
4. Michael Jackson ft. Justin Timberlake, “Love Never Felt So Good”
5. Sia, “Chandelier”
6. Sam Smith, “I’m Not The Only One”
7. Charli XCX, “Boom Clap”
8. Calvin Harris, “Summer”
9. Tove Lo, “Habits (Stay High)”
10. D’Angelo, “The Charade”
DAN SACHER, SVP Digital, VH1 & Logo (@dansacher)
Beyonce , “Partition” It took the last few weeks of 2013 to parse out of everything happening on “Beyonce” (an album that, surprise release aside, was a huge creative leap for her, and frankly, for pop music in general). But early on, it became clear that the pinnacle of the whole enterprise was Beyonce sneezing on the beat, and the beat getting sicker. Her drawling, seductive delivery on “Partition” — a discursive, conflicted journey that sounds equal parts R&B, Electro and Sondheim — is EVERYTHING.
Nick & Knight, “One More Time”
Marina and the Diamonds, “Froot”
We Are Twin, “The Way We Touch” (their EP is great!)
Indiana, “Solo Dancing” (there are a bunch awesome remixes of this song too)
Sky Ferreira, “I Blame Myself”
Hercules and Love Affair, “Do You Feel the Same?”
TV on the Radio, “Happy Idiot”
Nick Jonas, “Jealous”
First Aid Kit, “Silver Lining”
Escort, “Actor Out of Work”
But wait!!! — there are all sorts of other artists who did stuff that I loved this year! Keisza, Phantogram, Shamir, Gorgon City, Tinashe, Broods, Seinabo Sey, Jessie Ware, Kelela, Beck… ok I’l stop.
1. Clean Bandit ft Jesse Glynne, “Rather Be”
No other song this year exuded such joy and created such a vibrant moment when it came on. The sparse, bouncy strings and uplifting bounce-along beat worked perfectly in headphones around the city or blasting to a crowd at Burning Man.
2. Tove Lo, “Habits (Stay High)”
This somber, sexy drug and break-up anthem is part depressing and part enticing. It also features one of the best casual mentions of a sex club in years.
3. Sam Smith, “I’m Not The Only One”
I know, I know, this over “Stay With Me?” Honestly either track would be perfectly suited to go on this list but this track is an little less saccharine sappy and a little more swaggy.
4. Taylor Swift, “Blank Space”
How does one pick the best new Taylor track? With careful thought. Blank Space is the best example of Tay growing up and flipping the common narrative of her critics view on her relationships on its head. This is her Gone Girl anthem. The song soars and the bridge rules. All hail saucy Taylor.
5. Hozier, “Take Me To Church”
Who wouldn’t love to go to Hozier’s sexy church? Which seems to be his bed, judging by this writhing anthem. I’m in.
6. Paramore, “Ain’t It Fun”
Hayley Williams belting over a gospel choir in a stadium style refrain is all I’ve ever wanted from Paramore.
7. Katy Perry, “Birthday”
This is the best track off of Prism that got nearly no play. The video did nothing to help, either. But give Katy a chance to win you over again with another sexy playful romp of pop perfection.
8. FKA Twigs “Two Weeks”
Someone told me this song reminded them of being in a dark (sexy) emotional cave. I can’t think of a better way to describe this song and Twigs haunting vocals.
9. Ariana Grande ft. The Weeknd, “Love Me Harder”
2014 was truly the year of Ari and this particular track blew all of her 4(!?) other singles away. “Break Free” was really the only other contender in my eyes.
10. Grimes ft. Blood Diamonds, “Go”
Grimes just barely inched out Nick Jonas’ confident, catchy “Jealous” for this spot. But the sheer audacity of this dance break down mixed with her whisper vocals makes me so glad she kept this track for herself/Rihanna turned it down.
1. Lake Street Dive, “Bad Self Portraits”
Make no mistake: This song is about self portraits, not selfies. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and just listen to Rachel Price’s voice. She’s my hero.
2. Hozier, “Work Song”
His voice is heaven-sent, and this song is my daily prayer.
3. Yuna, “Broke Her”
Yuna spun Drizzy’s sample track and it went from “0 to 100” to another world real quick.
4. Grace Mitchell, “Runaway”
Grace Mitchell to the front, please. She’s from a camp of young female artists who have so far stayed on the periphery of the music scene, but I’m excited for what 2015 has in store for her.
5. ILOVEMAKONNEN ft. Drake, “Tuesday”
Who the hell is ILOVEMAKONNEN? I don’t go to the club on Tuesdays — or ever, really — but I can appreciate turning up on a Tuesday because Tuesday.
6. Sia, “Chandelier”
I find it impossible to talk about this song without also talking about Maddie Ziegler. As ridiculous as it sometimes was, I liked that Sia took the focus away from her when she performed this song live. It really let you focus on Maddie and how amazing she is as a dancer.
7. Tove Lo, “Habits (Stay High)”
This song goes from funny to sad over the course of a verse, and that’s reason enough to love it.
8. FKA Twigs, “Two Weeks”
The music video for this song was one of the year’s best. Robert Pattinson better lock it down soon!
9. Jessie J, “Strip”
“Strip” is such an anthem. I love Jessie J’s bubbly spirit, and this song really lets that come through.
10. Ariana Grande ft. Iggy Azalea, “Problem”
I’m still not entirely sure what Ariana is saying in most of the song, but it’s so catchy, you learn to just make up lyrics to it.