Not all of the following songs were written or produced in 2014. I may not have even heard them for the first time in 2014. Nonetheless, these songs made my year, and served as the soundtrack of my life in its various transitions.
Four Door – Sundy Best
Since I’ve been in college, country music has worked its way back onto my iPod. I’m not sure if its because I attend a major SEC school that likes to pride itself on southern identity or not, but I find it hard to pass up a band like Sundy Best. Based out of Eastern Kentucky, where my family is originally from, Sundy Best is country, folk, and twang, with popular themes in the lyrics. They don’t quite cross the border of bro-country, yet Sundy Best is just enough past your grandfather’s folk to have a strong youth/young adult following. Four Door, off their newest album Salvation City, truly hits home. Even growing up in the city, this song makes you want to be seventeen, with no responsibilities, and your first love next to you before you ever knew there was any hurt in the world.
Sarah’s favorite lyric: “We burned up that road to keep from going home // Find the darkest spot in the parking lot, making love to the radio”
Litost – X Ambassadors
Attending the Panic at the Disco concert, I never imagined I’d stumble across a band with such raw talent and emotional lyrics. I’m not sure how to even pronounce this song’s title, because it comes from a Czech word. This track, however, is applicable to almost anyone’s hurt, and if you’re reading this (you know who you are), you know exactly why it made this list.
Sarah’s favorite lyric: “I played hide-and-go-seek // Safe behind your veneer // Does it bury your burden baby? // Makes it all disappear”
Blank Space – Taylor Swift
Certainly not the first time this song has been featured on Space, Place & Southern Grace, Blank Space is Taylor Swift’s reinvention and as a long time fan, I am right there with her. Here’s to all the burned lovers, twentysomething wanderlusters, and those truly hopeless-romantic-love-at-first-sight-is-real types. Blank Space offers a new pop, a diversion from the wannabe country we’ve been collectively accepting, and gives listeners the opportunity to say (or scream) what we’ve all been thinking.
Sarah’s favorite lyric: “Cause we’re young and we’re reckless // We’ll take this way too far // It’ll leave you breathless, or with a nasty scar”
Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran’s first album very much could have served as the soundtrack to my freshman year of college. This new track offers the same soulful crooning, but is less burdened with Sheeran’s failed relationships and doubt. Thinking Out Loud will on bride-to-be’s first dance lists everywhere, and will be the song requested by at every couple’s karaoke night. Addressing all ages of love, Ed has done it again.
Sarah’s favorite lyric: “So honey now, Take me into your loving arms // Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars // Place your head on my beating heart // I’m thinking out loud”
Rather Be – Clean Bandit
2014 was definitely a time to change and travel. Rather Be essentially reminds us that, although long distance relationships are likely to fail, love crosses borders and it’s next to impossible to be happy where you are if your heart is with someone else, somewhere else. Strings accompaniment offers a new approach to pop, and certainly brought European flair to the US music scene. Too bad the song was popular almost a year in advance across the pond before it reached us peasants in Kentucky.
Sarah’s favorite lyric: “We’re a thousand miles from comfort // We have traveled land and sea // But as long as you are with me // There’s no place I’d rather be”
The Nicest Thing – Kate Nash
Kate Nash is another fiesty, British soul that has crept slowly into mainstream American music. A step down from Lilly Allen, Kate Nash usually offers sassy commentary on modern relationships and love. Nicest Thing, however, deviates from this norm to give us raw feelings post-break up. Nash’s delicate voice explains how hard it is to let go of something that you thought possessed the potential to be everything you ever wanted. And I think we can all relate.
Sarah’s favorite lyric: “I wish that without me your heart would break // I wish that without me you’d be spending the rest of your nights awake”
Take Me to Church – Hozier
Only gaining popularity at the end of 2014, Take Me to Church was initially thought of as slightly “too dark” for radio. It’s pretty far from upbeat pop or hip hop, but offers meaning on a deeper level: something Chris Brown will NEVER achieve. The song is written much like I like to write in free verse with seemingly arbitrary associations that always manage to come full circle. Take Me to Church offers borderline sacrilegious commentary on relationships, fidelity, and love — and has a thought-provoking, groundbreaking music video to accompany.
Sarah’s favorite lyric: “I was born sick, But I love it // Command me to be well”
Follow Your Arrow – Kacey Musgraves
So we had Same Love. Groundbreaking, naturally, for its open condemnation of sexuality discrimination. Follow Your Arrow, however: HUGE. Why? Genre. It’s all about genre. Maybe the song doesn’t exactly attack the institutions that perpetuate such hate, but addressing the LGBTQA population in a COUNTRY music is revolutionary. In a genre rooted in masculinity, damsels in distress, heteronormativity, and privilege, Follow Your Arrow finally says what so many people have been waiting for: Be exactly who you are, whoever that may be. 100% deserving of Song of the Year, too.
Sarah’s favorite lyric: “You’re damned if you do // And you’re damned if you don’t // So you might as well just do // Whatever you want”
Hometown Glory – Adele
Definitely not a song from 2014, Hometown Glory gives all the feels. I’ve quoted this song everywhere from Twitter to college papers because, in my opinion, it chronicles the experiences of a twentysomething revolutionary trying to evoke change in an urban setting, and realizing the challenges that accompany. Adele is powerful and tragically beautiful all at the same time and her voice is hard to pass up no matter what is being sung. Hometown Glory is one of the earliest, but best contributions she has made to the American music scene.
Sarah’s favorite lyric: “I like it in the city when two worlds collide // You get the people and the government // Everybody taking different sides // Shows that we ain’t gonna stand shit // Shows that we are united // Shows that we ain’t gonna take it”
In My Bones – Ron Pope
Ron Pope has been a gentle voice on my iPod for over five years. Seeing him for free last year at my university was an unexpected blessing because it was right before the release of his newest album. The album, in my opinion, was a very different style from what I was used to from him, especially circa his days with The District. In My Bones is a bit of a Pope throwback, but it narrates perfectly a relationship that worked for a while, but inevitably burned out, and one party is left to pick up the pieces or salvage the wreckage.
Sarah’s favorite lyric: “And the truth about the two of us, is we don’t make no sense // When we made love, our love was just pretend”