2014 was another stellar year for music and I have the iTunes bill to prove it. I didn’t buy many complete albums, but below are the tracks, artists, and videos that I had on repeat over the past 12 months:
- Scandinavia continues to produce some of the most interesting and exciting pop music around. Lykke Li made a sweeping vista of heartbreak in “No Rest for the Wicked”. Perennial favorite Robyn and producer duo Röyksopp made a pulsing club track urging us to “Do It Again“. Makthaverskan made an accusation a thing of soaring beauty in “Asleep“. I don’t know if it’s the cold weather or the socialized medicine that’s creating such a vibrant music scene just below the Arctic Circle, but more of this, please.
- Few artists captivated me this year like fka Twigs. She fuses electronic music and R&B into a sound that is equal parts sexy, dangerous, and arresting. “Two Weeks” is this year’s definitive make-out song and I won’t be surprised if it fuels a slight spike in the birth rate in 2015. The video for “Two Weeks” is also pretty great and should be familiar to anyone who remembers the movie Queen of the Damned.
- A year ago, almost nobody had heard of Future Islands. And then they appeared on Letterman’s show to perform “Seasons”, a moment that quickly went viral. The song itself is bittersweet and full of yearning, qualities that lead singer Sam Herring captures even while showing off some of the goofiest dance moves ever captured on video. Amidst a wash of New Wave synths, Herring beats his chest as he demands a human connection, something that we can all understand.
- I can’t stop watching the video for Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda”. And not just for the obvious reasons. She is one of the most fluid rappers working today, aided by a wicked sense of humor and a subversive agenda that has plenty to say about sexuality, feminism, and being a woman in a male-dominated and frequently misogynistic business. Sure, Minaj is drop-dead gorgeous, but that wouldn’t matter much to me if she wasn’t also immensely talented.
- I’ll close with a personal anecdote. I attended my first Rock the Garden festival over the summer and I had the opportunity to meet local sensation Dessa backstage. I’ve long admired her carefully crafted songs and I was thrilled to watch her perform live. She was charming, kind, and generally awesome. Thanks, Dessa!