As 2014 draws to a close, it’s time for writers to start compiling their year-end “best of” lists. As I brainstormed my list of the best singles of 2014, one thing jumped out at me right away: all of the songs that I was coming up with were performed by women. Of course, that's not to say that male artists didn’t make an impact in 2014 (Sam Smith and last-minute entry D'Angelo, anyone?), but if you ask me, the year's best tracks definitely belong to women. After all, this was the year of Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Sia Furler, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, Iggy Azalea, Meghan Trainor, and Charli XCX (just to name a few). Women ruled popular music in 2014. How awesome is that?
So, here it is: my list of the 14 best singles of 2014. It includes some familiar hits, but there are also a number of lesser-known gems that you may have missed. Believe me, this was a tough task! There were a number of memorable songs that just missed the cut (like “All About That Bass,” “Fancy,” and "Anaconda," for instance). What a fantastic year in music. I can't wait to find out what 2015 has in store!
Here we go:
#14. G.R.L. — "Show Me What You Got"
"Show Me What You Got" is pure pop bliss. Sadly, the music world was dealt a heavy blow in September when G.R.L. singer Simone Battle committed suicide. I hope that the group's four remaining members have been able to find comfort and strength in one another.
#13. Nabiha — "Animals"
"Animals" is one of the most daring and fun tracks that Danish singer Nabiha has released so far. It's currently No. 3 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart. Could it cross over to the Hot 100?
#12. Charli XCX — "Boom Clap"
"Boom Clap" proves that at 22 years old, Charli XCX knows her way around a massive pop hook better than many songwriting veterans in the music industry today.
#11. Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj — "Bang Bang"
"Bang Bang" is a thrilling burst of energy. It's electric. Honestly, I never get tired of hearing it. Needless to say, I want Jessie J, Grande, and Minaj to collaborate again in the very near future.
#10. Eden xo — "Too Cool to Dance"
If you haven't heard "Too Cool to Dance" yet, please stop what you're doing right now and press play. The track has an irresistible groove and a wonderful, uplifting message. Keep an eye on Eden xo in 2015, folks.
#9. Ryn Weaver — "OctaHate"
Newcomer Ryn Weaver had the Internet buzzing when she dropped the mesmerizing and addictive "OctaHate" in June. It's one of 2014's most impressive debuts. (The music video is a trip, too.)
#8. Ariana Grande — "Break Free" (feat. Zedd)
"Problem" is a blast, sure, but "Break Free" is the Grande single that I'm going to be listening to for years and years to come.
#7. Taylor Swift — "Blank Space"
Ruthlessly catchy and endlessly clever, "Blank Space" is Swift's best single to date (until she releases "Style," that is).
#6. Tinashe — "2 On" (feat. SchoolBoy Q)
Tinashe exudes star power. She has so much natural charisma and swagger, it's almost unfair. Listen to "2 On" and you'll understand exactly what I'm talking about.
#5. Tove Lo — "Habits (Stay High)"
When I first heard "Habits (Stay High)," I was immediately captivated by Lo's unique voice and the song's vivid, and at times, disturbing imagery. The track grabs a hold of you and doesn't let go. Admittedly, I'm kind of amazed that a single this quirky and bizarre was able to become a hit in the United States, but I'm not complaining. (Side note: You need to check out Lo's debut album, Queen of the Clouds , ASAP.)
#4. Jessie Ware — "Tough Love"
English singer-songwriter Jessie Ware is going to gain a lot of fans thanks to her haunting guest spot on Minaj's new album, The Pinkprint , but "Tough Love," the title track from her 2014 sophomore album, is the song that initially caught my ear. It's beautiful.
#3. Clean Bandit — "Rather Be" (feat. Jess Glynne)
Jess Glynne's sublime vocals on "Rather Be" are what make the song so special. Her voice has the ability to lift your spirit — even in the darkest moments.
#2. Sia — "Chandelier"
The juxtaposition of "Chandelier's" devastating lyrics and its soaring, anthemic chorus is nothing short of brilliant. Put simply, Sia is a musical genius. No, that's not an exaggeration.
#1. The Righteous Young — "Everything Burns"
Wynter Gordon, The Righteous Young's lead singer, delivers the most powerful vocal performance of 2014 on "Everything Burns." I could go on and on about how incredible the song is (and I have), but instead, I'll just say this: it sends chills down my spine and makes my heart catch in my throat. It's stunning.
Visit our Year In Review Explore page for more stories about the best and worst moments in 2014, and enjoy the best sounds of the year with this Spotify playlist.