Below are the ten best songs of 2014 as chosen by the Noisey staff: Kim Kelly, Kyle Kramer, Drew Millard, Kayla Monetta, Dan Ozzi, Fred Pessaro, Eric Sundermann, and Kim Taylor Bennett. See songs 25 to 11 here. For the top 25 albums, go here.
10. The Menzingers – “I Don’t Wanna Be an Asshole Anymore”
We all get older, wiser, smarter, and realize that, hey, maybe we shouldn’t be dickheads. “I Don’t Wanna Be an Asshole Anymore” is the anthem for maturity—knowing that success in this world doesn’t rely on squashing your enemies and simply demanding what you want. Believe us! Kindness is cool! We swear! It also helps that, musically, this song kicks all sorts of ass.
9. Kira Isabella – “Quarterback”
“Quarterback” is a deceptively sweet-sounding, string-heavy country ballad with serious bite. Its unflinching look at date rape and cyberbullying is as heartbreaking as it is necessary, and when the survivor triumphs at the end, it's a Sisyphean challenge not to tear up a little. As she asks, “Who you gonna blame, the star of the game, or the no-name girl in the freshman class?” It’s a question that's been raised on a lot of campuses this year, a question that we shouldn't need to ask. That this song came from a young woman fighting to be heard amidst the clamor of country's good ol' boys club makes it feel even more powerful. Kudos to Kira for tackling a heavy issue so gracefully, and so fiercely.
8. Taylor Swift – “Style”
Catching Taylor Swift, presumed class president and all-around do-gooder, sneaking out at night in a “tight little skirt” feels like an illicit thrill. And who doesn't prefer their life—not to mention their music—with a little bit of danger and a hint of sex? Taylor's never seemed like more fun to hang out with or, with her expressive breathiness, more human. But if you just get caught up in the pop andrenaline rush of it all, well, as Taylor says, “I've been there, too, a few times.”
7. Future Islands – “Seasons (Waiting on You)”
This song is undeniably infectious, but so are a lot of songs. Future Islands made it stand out though by creating a cultural moment around it. Samuel Herring’s unforgettable dance moves and stage antics on national TV made people take notice. Then once the viral nature of it had set in, everyone soon realized: Hey, this song we’ve all been chuckling about is actually amazing.
6. Total Control – “Flesh War”
The story is one that’s old as time (or at least music nerdery) itself. Punk band tires of guitars and mosh pits, discovers new wave and the dancefloor. Total Control’s Typical System was a master-work of big ideas, both musical and rhetorical, being processed into itty-bitty nuggets of post-punk gold. “Flesh War” takes the Melbourne band’s jagged edges, pressurizes them, and smooths them out, like a lump of particularly aggressive coal transforming into diamond.
5. Body Count – "Talk Shit, Get Shot"
It’s so difficult to nail down Ice-T’s level of musical sincerity which is exactly what makes him an oddly compelling artist. “Talk Shit, Get Shot,” as illustrated in its gratuitously murderous and hilarious video, takes on internet trolls the way everyone wishes they could but only Ice actually does—with a vengeance. Musically simplistic? Sure. Cartoonishly violent? Maybe. Thoroughly head-bangable? Abso-fucking-lutely. Act hard, motherfucker.
4. Lil B – “No Black Person is Ugly”
In a year fraught with violence and despair, Lil B continued to be a shining ray of light. His message of love and empowerment was a beautiful thing to witness, and a terrible reminder of the flawed reality so many Americans face every day. “No Black Person Is Ugly” hits you right in the feels, and if it doesn’t, it’s safe to assume that you’re an actual demon from hell.
3. Against Me! – “True Trans Soul Rebel”
The stirring centerpiece of Against Me!'s groundbreaking sixth album Transgender Dysphoria Blues relies on a rollicking punk beat to propel the weighty subject matter the song's title not-so-subtly hints at. Laura Jane Grace's vocals are powerful, honest, and packed with emotion—and hell, given the year she's had, can you blame her?
2. Drake – "0 to 100"
A great song—a truly great song—is more than just a jam, it's a force. It's something that makes you reconsider why we're on Earth and you question the entire plight of human existance. Drake’s “0 to 100” is just that. This song doesn't ask you to turn up. It doesn't give you a fucking choice. When the drop happens—yeah, that drop—your squad turns into a pro wrestling match. Someone gets slapped. Someone gets powerbombed. Someone gets a fucking stunner. Drake didn't release an album this year, but it doesn't matter because he still dominated the conversation. Why? How? He doens't have to give you a reason. Because fuck you and fuck bein' on that chill shit.
1. iLoveMakonnen – “Club Goin' Up (On A Tuesday)”
“I made it on my own / I made my own style” Makonnen sings in the final verse of “Tuesday,” his voice cracking and wavering—his own style, as it were, endearingly unpredictable imperfection. The success of “Tuesday,” which went from just-slightly-more-than-homemade weirdo artifact to Drake-featuring radio smash to Grammy-nominated late night show performance material, was as improbable as having a wild party on the slowest night of the week right under the nose of your parole officer. But it wasn’t unwarranted. “Tuesday” feels like it’s happening in some liminal world between fiction and reality, its stories of making trips out of state and working on the weekend turned into bleary fantasias. In this world, everything seems beautiful and fun and just right, and everything keeps going up—it’s a perfect picture, just as the lyrics of the song are the perfect failsafe Instagram caption. “Tuesday” is not about a day so much as a state of mind, a timeless idea: That next week, there will be another night to remember, that on Tuesday, anything is possible.