First thing’s first: these aren’t the best songs of 2014. These are our top singles of 2014. There’s a slight, subtle difference there.
The songs on our list were all released as an official single for something. In constructing our list, we mixed in pretty scientific data (songs that charted high) with unscientific data (songs we fuxed with hard) to come up with a list.
So what were the trends of 2014? Well, the notable one was dominance of DJ Mustard. His DNA could be found in every single major musical genre, from pop to rap to R&B.
The other trend is in with the new, out with the old. Pop music is a game of survival of the fittest, and it’s amazing how easily music is able to cannibalize itself.
This year we saw stars like Young Thug, Sam Smith, Iggy Azalea, and Rae Sremmurd rise to the top; while reliable artists like Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, Robin Thicke, and 50 Cent were basically shooed away.
So it goes.
We can’t wait to see what 2015 brings. Until then, scroll down to see our list of the 14 top singles of 2014.
14. ScHoolboy Q “Man of the Year”
Produced by Nez & Rio & Sounwave of Digi+Phonics
After dropping two singles that kinda fizzled last year, L.A. rapper ScHoolboy Q needed a legit hit for his Oxymoron album. So he hooked up with up-and-coming producers Nez & Rio for the most fun song of his career: “Man of the Year.” Although it wasn’t the smash everyone wanted, it’s one of the better songs in Q’s excellent catalogue.
13. Charli XCX “Boom Clap”
Produced by Patrik Berger & Stefan Gräslund
British star Charli XCX is probably better known for another certain smash single you might or might not see later on in this list. “Boom Clap,” however, just might be the best pure pop song of 2014. The track is two and a half minutes of unadulterated poppy hipster fun.
12. Rich Gang “Lifestyle”
Produced by London on da Track
You know you made it when your song becomes a Vine. And some of the biggest Vines of 2014 were folks trying to figure out what Young Thug was saying on the Rich Gang hit “Lifestyle.” (For the record it’s: “Livin’ life like a beginner and this is only the beginning.”) After the success of “Lifestyle,” Rich Gang— which consists of Thug, Rich Homie Quan, and Birdman — would go on to release our favorite mixtape of 2014, Tha Tour Part 1.
11. Rae Sremmurd “No Flex Zone”
Produced by Mike WiLL Made-It
Not a lot of rappers can have a smash record outside the box. But there aren’t a lot of rappers like duo Rae Sremmurd, who’s being guided by producer Mike WiLL Made-It. The lighthearted “No Flex Zone,” which is their first release, was inescapable throughout the first part of the year. We say the first half because there would be another song to come and take the baton: “No Type,” again from Rae Sremmurd.
10. Sam Smith “Stay with Me”
Produced by Jimmy Napes Steve Fitzmaurice
How do you make a song about not wanting a one night stand to leave in the morning? You class up the joint. The soulful, almost gospel sounding “Stay With Me” is one of the dirtiest, classiest songs we’ve heard in years.
9. Tinashe & ScHoolboy Q “2 On”
Produced by DJ Mustard, Redwine, & DJ Marley Waters
“Mustard on the beat, hoe” was the most common drop of 2014. It’s the drop for L.A.-based producer DJ Mustard, who was everywhere this year. Mustard is where R&B singer Tinashe went when she was fishing for a hit; “2 On” was the result, and it stands as one of the better pop songs of the year, despite a so-so verse from ScHoolboy Q.
8. Big Sean & E-40 “IDFWU”
Produced by DJ Mustard, Kanye West, & DJ Dahi
After releasing a universally panned album last year, Big Sean is giving this hip-hop thing another go. And he’s starting things off right, with the E-40-featured breakup anthem “IDFWU.” They say heartbreak is great for artistic creativity, so we shouldn’t be surprised that “IDFWU,” which is a slam against ex-bae Naya Rivera, is so great.
7. Sia “Chandelier”
Produced by Greg Kurstin & Jesse Shatkin
Sia has been so busy writing hits for other people, she kinda forgot that she could write some for herself. Finally, she threw herself a bone: “Chandelier” was not only a massive hit record, but it’s a legit great song. On “Chandelier,” we also see Sia continue her songwriting trend of making a literal object figurative (think Britney Spears’ “Perfume” or Rihanna’s “Diamond” or Katy Perry’s “Double Rainbow”).
6. Iggy Azalea & Charli XCX “Fancy”
Produced by The Invisible & Men the Arcade
DJ Mustard produced the biggest song of the summer, Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy.” OK, so he really didn’t produce the record, which was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts for seven weeks, but “Fancy” was a blatant DJ Mustard knock-off. Either way, it’s still a great song, mostly due to Charli’s catchy chorus and Iggy’s stage presence.
5. Beyoncé & Jay Z “Drunk in Love”
Produced by Detail, Beyoncé, Timbaland, Jerome Harmon Boots, & Brian Soko
There were many great songs on Beyoncé’s surprise self-titled release. But none had the same effect as the super sultry “Drunk in Love.” The song dominated pop culture, with phrases like “surfboard” and “eat the cake, Anna Mae” becoming part of our lexicon.
4. Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, & Tyga “Loyal”
Produced by Nic Nac
Chris Brown spent a good portion of 2014 in jail. And yet “Loyal,” his first hit single from his X album, was still the biggest song in the world for a good number of weeks. The song was another example of DJ Mustard’s dominance on the radio…except, like “Fancy,” Mustard wasn’t actually on the beat, hoe.
3. Bobby Shmurda “Hot Nigga”
Produced by Jahlil Beats
We all know the story by now. Young Brooklyn rapper Bobby Shmurda spits a freestyle over an old Lloyd Banks beat. He then shoots a video. Someone sees the video, and Vines a small portion of the dance he’s doing. And that, ladies and gents, is how you become a rap star in 2014. The song turned Bobby into a celebrity overnight; he would go on to sign a record deal with Epic. Hard times would hit the rapper, however: last week, he and his GS9 crew were pinched on everything from drugs to murder. Life comes at you fast.
2. Drake “0 to 100 / The Catch Up”
Produced by Noah “40” Shebib, Boi-1da, & Nineteen85
Drake dropped the hardest rap song of 2014. Put that number one on things that don’t make sense. “0 to 100 / The Catch Up” is the most un-Drakiest Drake song you’ll ever hear. It features a really mean-spirited Drake spitting bars on a Boi-1da beat, which sounds like it was stolen from a 1997 RZA tape. The song starts to lose steam when the track changes to “The Catch Up” and he slows things down. That shouldn’t take anything away from “0 to 100” though, which could become Drake’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” moment (except don’t call it a comeback).
1. ILoveMakonnen & Drake “Tuesday”
Produced by Sonny Digital & Metro Boomin
Drake hops on your song, your song is outta here. We’ve seen this happen with Future. We’ve seen this happen with Migos. And now we’re seeing it with ILoveMakonnen. This Summer, Drake threw Makonnen into the spotlight after he dropped a verse on the Atlanta rapper’s underground hit “Club Goin Up On A Tuesday,” off his self-titled EP. The song is so great because it’s something we can all relate to at some point in our lives: turning up on a weekday because we work on the weekend. (Drake is busy touring, while Makonnen is busy selling cocaine.) The song is everything you want in a hit: unique, catchy, and fun. Thank God we heard it. Or, better yet, thank Drake.
VIDEO SOURCE: YouTube