Fifth Harmony – Miss Movin’ On
They may not quite found the success that one would expect from “The Female One Direction,” but these girls are well on their way. Created on the X-Factor, Dinah, Camilla, Ally, Normani and Lauren combined their colorful personalities and unyielding vocal talent to create a powerful teen pop anthem. Look for Fifth Harmony to be one of the breakout stars of 2014!
Lupe Fiasco – Old School Love (Ft. Ed Sheeran)
Rap music today is pretty lifeless, lacking in imagination, creativity, and substance. Thank god there are still thinkers out there like Lupe Fiasco! The gorgeous piano melody and smooth vocals from Ed Sheeran definitely make this song easy to listen to. However, its the poignant lyrics that make this song worthy of your attention. Longing for the days of “old school” hip-hop music, Lupe reminds us that there’s so much more to the genre than swag and processed beats.
Robert Delong – Global Concepts
Just when you’ve gotten tired of the EDM craze, Robert Delong comes along and injects a breath of fresh air into the genre. A barrage of funky synths, pulse racing beats, and endless dubs may have grabbed your attention, but its the use of actual drums rather than electronic ones that makes this song stand out! Why, yes, Robert! You did make us fucking dance!
A Friend in London – Rest From the Streets (ft. Carly Rae Jepsen)
Last year’s “it girl” lends her sweet sounding vocals to this Danish band’s debut album. The result is a rather pleasant piece of pop-rock that definitely leaves a lasting impression. Starting off slow, Rest From the Streets finishes with a flourish to leave you wanting more. I’d suggest checking out the band’s debut album. Definitely one of the best debuts of 2013!
Kid Cudi – Immortal
This song is exactly what we’d expect from Kid Cudi when he isn’t “on the pursuit of happiness.” He drags and drones over a trippy and spaced out beat…which, interestingly enough, is sampled from an MGMT song. Just…you know, reversed. This look into the psyche of Cudi is an interesting listen…that’s for damn sure!
Johnnyswim – Heart Beats
Despite being released in 2012, Johnnyswim was overlooked until they were featured as VH1’s “You Outta Know Artist” of June. And you know what? Thank god for VH1! Johnnyswim blends the gorgeous vocals Amber and Abner Ramirez in a swirl of Blues, Folk, Soul and Pop music. The result? A rousing song that leaves you wondering why it took the band so long to get a little recognition. Please be good to this duo, 2014…
Little Mix – How Ya Doin’ (ft. Missy Elliot)
While the girls released a number of songs in their home, the US got their first taste of Little Mix this year. While Wings was great, How Ya Doin’ is just so much more fun! It takes us right back to the late 90’s when girl groups were at their highest point. Those harmonies….oh my god! Those harmonies! Just listen to that chorus! Fun, funky, sassy, and powerful…How Ya Doin’ brought the best of the 90’s into 2013!
Kaskade – Atmosphere
Being a long time fan of Kaskade, it was great to finally see him have a breakout single this year. Plus, if it was going to be any song, I’m glad to see it was Atmosphere. The addition of his own vocals was a fantastic touch. Although he isn’t much of a singer, the emotional and honest delivery was simply touching. Plus, the pulsing dance beat was a pure rush! With EDM being more mainstream than ever, its great to see the genre’s legends getting the spotlight they deserve.
Kelly Rowland – Dirty Laundry
Sometimes, less is more. With a smooth RnB beat and a restrained vocal performance, Kelly Rowland gives us one of the most brutally honest songs of 2013. In Dirty Laundry, she talks about the conflicted feelings she experienced while watching Beyonce achieve solo superstardom, as well as her her abusive relationship. Its a dark walk through Rowland’s life, touching on many deep themes. This song is simply breathtaking in its simplicity and honesty, showing Kelly to be every bit a star as her “sister.”
The 1975 – Chocolate
Yet another song that took its time to come overseas! Despite being released in March, The 1975 just recently started gaining momentum in the States! Its upbeat riffs and lively chorus definitely give it the illusion of a feel good song, further masked by the lead singer’s unique phrasing and English drawl. While the sound may be warm and jaunty, the lyrics are actually quite dark. When you finally pay attention to what’s between the “Never gonna quit, never gonna quit” hook, you realize that the song is actually about drug abuse. I love when you have to peel back the layers of a song to find the meaning!
Best Song With a Message
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – Same Love (ft. Mary Lambert)
Gay rights is probably the biggest social issue of this generation. Its also a subject that doesn’t often get touched upon in hip-hop music. And yet, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis brought this issue into the limelight with one of the most touching, poignant, and well thought out songs….well, possibly, ever. This song’s message of equality and freedom are truly profound, and Mary Lambert’s guest vocals? Well…I damn near cry every single time I hear her restrained emotional delivery. Without a doubt, this is the single most important song to have been released in this decade.