2014 has raced by faster than it should have. Based on our post on “Veteran artists to look out for in 2014“, there was a lot of reason for excitement for this year in the music scene. Many critics would argue that 2014 was a fairly uneventful year in reality. We would probably second that opinion. That being said, the year did have its share of stellar moments. Not too long ago, we asked our listeners to VOTE for their favorite single of 2014 out of a list that we provided them with. The polls closed this morning and here we are to announce Radio Creme Brulee’s “Top 10 Singles of 2014”.
10. Loving You (Michael Jackson): The moonwalk, the pyrotechnics, dance moves that defied physics, and the timeless dance tracks are some of the first things that come to mind when people think of the King Of Pop. But the one aspect of his career that Michael Jackson never really got his due for his collection of heart-wrenching ballads. His vocal delivery on all of these could melt the coldest of hearts. Every album (with the exception of “Dangerous“) had these. This year, we got yet another from his second posthumous album titled “Xscape” (produced by Timbaland and Stargate). This achingly beautiful yet exhilarating love song is “Loving You“. We cannot help but hope that there are more such gems lying in the rumored “vault” of songs that Michael Jackson recorded prior to his untimely demise. It is great that Michael Jackson can continue to surprise us with his artistry from his grave.
9. The Chamber (Lenny Kravitz): Lenny Kravitz seemed to be one of the few solo male artists from the 80s that stayed relevant into the early 2000s while remaining a constant fixture in the American mainstream (we make references to the US mainstream). It seemed like his star started to fade around 2004 and he did not have an instantly recognizable hit after that. “The Chamber” was a great attempt at reigniting the spark that made Kravitz tick with audiences globally. This song, in ways, sounds like something that could have been on INXS‘ “Kick” album. It is essentially rock music for the dancefloor – something we almost rarely ever hear these days. We definitely applaud Kravitz for revisiting this lost genre and for becoming an interesting artist all over again. The explicit music video this song is smoking hot (and so is the female model in the video).
8. Jealous (Nick Jonas): Never did we dream we would write about anything or featuring anything on our radio station by anyone even remotely connected to the Jonas Brothers. The Jonas Brothers, to us, are symbolic of mass-produced and insipid pop that sounds very middle-of-the-road (MOR) – but it is MOR for kids. Interestingly enough, Nick Jonas, from the band has emerged as the brother with real potential. His hit single “Jealous” is not what one would call a major milestone for pop music – but it is everything pop music should be – catchy, melodically strong, and fun. We sure found ourselves listening to it on repeat (without telling anyone about it until now!).
7. Gust Of Wind (Pharrell Williams featuring Daft Punk): 2013 heralded one of the greatest comebacks in modern music history for an act that was considered way past their prime. French electronic duo Daft Punk returned with “Random Access Memories” – an album that features high-profile collaborations with singer/producer Pharrell Williams and production maestro Nile Rodgers. The album’s lead single “Get Lucky” quickly became 2013’s biggest hit. The Pharrell-Daft Punk collaboration had struck gold. Hence, it only seemed natural that Pharrell would pursue that dynamic even further on his solo album titled “G I R L“. The album, for the most part, was quite a dud – despite the success of its lead single “Happy“. The only other shining moment was the collaboration with Daft Punk. While it doesn’t quite capture the brilliance or vibe of “Get Lucky“, it is pleasant enough. Most of the song’s merit stems from the background music – but I supposed that was good enough for us and apparently for the people that voted for this song too!
6. Am I Wrong (Nico and Vinz): It seemed like the years during which Scandinavian artists/bands dominated American airwaves. The era of Abba, a-ha, Roxette, and Ace of Base feel like a lifetime ago. The rise of Nico and Vinz (formerly named Envy) seemed far from a foregone conclusion. Their commitment to authenticity as opposed to charting is exemplary. More importantly, they are a duo. How many pop duos do we see these days? Last, but not least, they are an African American duo from Norway – a country that has struggled to push its immense musical talent across the Atlantic and into the American mainstream. Yet, “Am I Wrong” is one of 2014’s most recognizable songs. This is how all pop music should be made – free from the confining shackles that music’s key gatekeepers impose. Maybe there is still room for honesty and authenticity in pop music – although one would have to guess that Nico & Vinz had less to do with widespread acceptance by the music-public buying. This song would never have reached the ears of the masses if it hadn’t somehow found its way to terrestrial radio airwaves.
5. Extraordinary (Clean Bandit vs featuring Sharna Bass): Clean Bandit is one of the rare examples in modern music wherein old-fashioned artistry gets its due. Some of this might have to do with the fact that the band is British and the UK has always had a more open and eclectic mainstream than the US does -at least ever since 1996. While their debut album “New Eyes” might not be the brilliant album many were hoping for it has produced two of the year’s best singles – “Rather Be” (featuring Jess Glynne) and “Extraordinary” (featuring Sharna Bass). The Clean Bandit sonic template successfully fuses 90s dance music with instruments such as the cello and the violin. Pop music has become notorious for its almost purely synthetic and mass-produced sound which rarely features any actual musical instruments. Hence, to hear instruments typically associated with classical music back in the mainstream is refreshing to say the least. “Extraordinary” symbolizes the most epic musical moment in this fusion. Moreoever, Sharna Bass has emerged as an incredibly competent vocalist. One can only hope she works again on similar types of musical projects If we had to pick our favorite single of the year, THIS would be it.
4. The Days (Avicii featuring Robbie Williams): The phenomenon of DJs turning into pop producers is a rapidly growing one. In the past, it appeared that these DJs could only produce dance music but that might be changing with DJs such as Avicii successfully marrying acoustic elements with the electronic sounds that characterize modern dance music. “The Days” is a great manifestation of this marriage of sounds that truly works. The one aspect of this song that could have been avoided was the processing of Robbie Williams‘ vocals. They barely sound like him and fans and skeptics of Britain’s former bad boy would agree that his voice is a distinct one. While it does not detract from the song, it does rob it of being the best that it can be.
3. Steal (Spandau Ballet): Romantic classics, like rock music, seems to be relics of a bygone era. Everyone knew them. They invariably found themselves on motion picture soundtracks. Everyone knew the words. They frequently became staples at karaoke parties and weddings. They all had the same elements – a catchy tune, lush string arrangements, achingly beautiful vocals. They were the sonic manifestations of romance. We rarely hear these anymore. The only type of ballad is an R&B ballad – often blending elements of hip-hop. If there was a song of today that captures the magic of the romantic classic, it comes from an unlikely source – Spandau Ballet. The band reformed in 2009 after a split at the end of the 80s followed by an acrimonious court battle over songwriting royalties. “Steal” is every bit the modern romantic classic and the best thing Spandau Ballet has recorded since the mid-80s – and that is saying a lot given that their last big hit “Through the barricades” was released in the late 80s.
2. These Days (Take That): The hard knocks that affected members of Take That that were NOT Robbie Williams have apparently made them VERY adept at implementing damage control and managing adversity. The band displayed these attributes again this year soon after band-member Jason Orange announced his exit from Take That. Not only did the remaining three members stay committed to resolve to Take That as a musical entity, but they also followed Jason’s announcement with their most unapologetically uptempo and poptastic single of their career. “These Days” challenged all odds and took the Manchester lads back to #1 in their home country the UK. The resilience of one of pop music’s most unlikely comeback acts is fascinating, exhilarating, and surprising – but we applaud Take That for it.
1. Daze (Poets Of The Fall): Rock music today feels more like a relic of a bygone era – primarily because there are very few bands out there that make rock music – in the most pure and unadulterated sense. Finnish Rockers Poets Of The Fall churn out a potent and commercially viable concoction of beautiful melodies, the edginess that is associated with rock, atmospheric sounds, and the magnetic vocals of lead singer Marko Saaresto. This year, the band returned with a new album titled “Jealous Gods“. The album’s lead single “Daze” epitomizes everything that makes Poets Of The Fall the greatest modern rock band on the planet. The band has been churning out great music for a decade now and we cannot for the life of us understand why they haven’t dominated the American rock mainstream. They are the music industry’s “best kept secret”. Here is a full-length video clip of “Daze“:
A HUGE “thank you” to those of you that voted via our annual poll for these songs. We value listener input and engagement. Thank you all for making 2014 an exciting year for us and we really hope we can up the ante on your listening experience in 2015!
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