13 Excellent Songs From 2014 That Can’t Easily Be Categorized

originally posted on Buzzfeed

Genre schmenre – the best music can’t be easily put in a box.

1. Owen Pallett, “Song for Five & Six”

Owen Pallett’s In Conflict is one of the best records to come out in 2014, in part because it’s so singular and difficult to classify. Pallett, a Canadian composer best known for his collaborations with Arcade Fire, makes music that falls somewhere in the space between art rock, modern classical, and singer-songwriter fare.

2. 18+, “Crow”

The male/female duo 18+ sound like a minimalist hip-hop version of the xx, but whereas that band is all about conveying a feeling of sexy intimacy, 18+ are more into projecting the sense that they’re totally into sex, but anxious about intimacy.

3. Sinkane, “Hold Tight”

Ahmed Gallab’s music feels instantly cozy and familiar while putting together a lot of musical elements – country guitar, modern R&B, classic soul, ’70s rock – in a way that’s unlike anything else out there.

4. Caribou, “Can’t Do Without You”

Dan Snaith has been recording as Caribou for a long while now, and has always made music that falls somewhere in the space between psychedelia, funk, and dance music. “Can’t Do Without You” doesn’t fit into any particular category, but is exceptionally good at evoking the feeling of being a little overwhelmed by love and lust.

5. White Hinterland, “Ring the Bell”

Casey Dienel started out as a piano-centric singer-songwriter, but has gradually evolved into something far more strange and beautiful. “Ring the Bell,” from White Hinterland’s album Baby, is sorta like a Mariah Carey song if she had teamed up with the Animal Collective.

6. GFOTY, “Don’t Wanna/Let’s Do It”

This track, by an artist affiliated with London’s PC Music crew, is as confounding and abrasive as a pop song can get while still definitely being a pop song. It’s catchy, but everything about it from the sound of the keyboards and the structure of the song to its bizarre lyrics seems designed to disorient you.

7. Tune-Yards, “Water Fountain”

Merrill Garbus is a singular singer, songwriter, and performer with a big, bold voice and a knack for combining simple, catchy melodies with dense layers of percussion derived from African and Haitian musical traditions. That may seem overly cerebral in print, but in practice, it’s very immediate and physical music.

8. A Sunny Day in Glasgow, “Crushin’”

“Crushin’” sounds exactly like its title implies – dreamy and ecstatic, but also vaguely anxious, since any good crush is going to make you nervous. It’s like a pop song that’s been cracked open and swirled around, with a very Siamese Dream-ish guitar solo plopped down in the middle.

9. Museum of Love, “Monotronic”

Museum of Love is a band led by LCD Soundsystem member Pat Mahoney, and his approach to music isn’t far off from the all-inclusive, mutant-pop aesthetic of LCD mastermind James Murphy. “Monotronic” is pensive and lightly groovy, with Mahoney’s somewhat distant vocals seeming deliberately small in scale compared to the wide-open, oceanic scale implied by the music.

10. TV on the Radio, “Careful You”

TV on the Radio have been working in essentially a sub-genre of one for years now, and “Careful You” – a romantic tune that isn’t quite pop or rock or R&B or electronic music, but is definitely all of the above – is a fine example of them at their best.

11. Panda Bear, “Mr. Noah”

Have you ever had a hazy memory of a song you haven’t heard in a long time, and then heard the song again and noticed that it wasn’t quite as cool as the version that was there, half-formed, in your memory? Panda Bear’s “Mr. Noah” sounds like a vague memory of some ‘80s rock song, but it’s the super cool version that’s all fuzzed out and blurry because you probably heard it that one time from a bad radio signal in a moving car with the windows down.

12. Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks, “Strange Colores”

Avey Tare – Panda Bear’s bandmate in Animal Collective – has a bright, trebly sound that is like the musical equivalent of a super-saturated color in a photograph. The structure of “Strange Colores” is essentially rock music, but it’s pushed so far beyond typical rock sounds that it feels vaguely alien.

13. Nautic, “Show”

The London band Nautic specialize in music that makes you feel like you’re in some sort of pleasant daze. “Show” is exceptionally dreamy, like ’70s yacht rock somehow crossed with Brian Eno in his ambient phase.

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Rolling Stone’s 50 Best Albums of 2014

U2 unleashed a brilliant surprise, Bruce Springsteen hit a new peak, St. Vincent made deliciously weird noise and more

53 Of The Most Swoonworthy Love Songs From 2014

From Buzzfeed

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

53. German folktronica duo Milky Chance’s hypnotic “Stolen Dance.”

52. Future Islands’ soulful, spellbinding “Seasons (Waiting on You).”

51. Jamaican reggae singer Gyptian’s summer love anthem “Stunta.”

50. Lana Del Rey’s love letter to East Coast cool, “Brooklyn Baby.”

49. The slow-burning “When We’re Fire” from Lo-Fang.

48. Los Angeles-based BØRNS’ joyful, Queen-inspired “Electric Love.”

47. Dierks Bentley pleads with a bad girlfriend on “Say You Do.”

46. Singer-songwriter Daniel Wilson’s sad, swelling “If You Went Away.”

45. Garage-pop duo K.I.D’s intoxicating “I Wish I Was Your Cigarette.”

44. The Vamps learn to commit with help from Demi Lovato on “Somebody to You.”

43. Teen star Becky G’s impossibly catchy “Shower.”

42. White Sea’s ethereal “They Don’t Know.”

41. A grateful Kelis celebrates real love on “Breakfast.”

40. Country star Jason Aldean embraces his pop side on “Burnin’ It Down.”

39. FKA Twigs’ smoldering “Papi Pacify.”

53 Of The Most Swoonworthy Love Songs From 2014

Young Turks

38. YouTuber Troye Sivan gets sexy on the synth-heavy “Touch.”

37. Grace Mitchell’s startling mature take on teen love, “Runaway.”

36. The punchy pop of CRUISR’s “All Over” makes toxic relationships seem fun.

35. Tinashe’s “Pretend” (featuring A$AP ROCKY) is equal parts sad and sensual.

34. Belgian pop star Selah Sue’s hip-hop-influenced “Together” (featuring Childish Gambino).

Because Music

Because Music

33. Australian pop star Betty Who’s euphoric synth-pop celebration “Somebody Loves You.

32. BANKS’ slinky, defiant “Fuck Em Only We Know.”

31. Weird sex is front and center on alt-J’s “Every Other Freckle.”

30. Childish Gambino’s “Pop Thieves (Make It Feel Good)” is an island getaway for your ears.

29. Hilary Duff’s sugary-sweet comeback single, “All About You.”

28. English indie-rock outfit Wild Beasts’ epic, poetic “Mecca

27. Maroon 5’s “Maps” is a foot-stomping ode to romantic persistence.

26. Bipolar Sunshine’s “Future Pt 1 ” (featuring GoldLink).

25. Indie-folk quartet DWNTWN’s single “Missing You” makes being lovesick seem downright dreamy.

24. Justin Timberlake’s cockiness has never sounded sweeter than it does on “Not a Bad Thing.

23. Wiz Khalifa’s tender “Promises.”

53 Of The Most Swoonworthy Love Songs From 2014

Atlantic Records

22. Bleachers’ surging ’80s throwback “Rollercoaster.”

21. The light, classical-leaning “Rather Be” from Clean Bandit and Jess Glynne.

20. Country superstar Blake Shelton’s tearjerker “Just South of Heaven.”

19. Jessie Ware’s emotional Ed Sheeran co-write, “Say You Love Me.”

18. Rita Ora’s heartwarming dance-floor jam “I Will Never Let You Down.”

Columbia

Columbia

17. Brooklyn rapper Theophilus London trades verses with Kanye West on the warm “Can’t Stop.”

16. Miguel gets romantic over some fuzzy electric guitar on “Simplethings.”

15. English indie-rock band The 1975’s infectious “Settle Down.”

14. Nick Gardner does his best Phil Collins on the heartfelt “Lose You.”

13. Nashville-based singer-songwriter Madi Diaz makes a strong case for sticking it out on the anthemic “Stay Together.”

12. FKA Twigs makes her love sound threatening on “Two Weeks.”

11. Australian-Swedish sister duo Say Lou Lou’s glittering “Everything We Touch.”

10. One Direction’s “18” is an earnest ode to young love.

9. The shimmering, psychedelic “Can’t Do Without You” from Caribou.

8. How to Dress Well’s jazzy, lovelorn “What You Wanted.”

7. Australian singer-songwriter Vance Joy puts his ukulele to good use on “Riptide.”

6. Ed Sheeran’s first dance-worthy “Thinking Out Loud.”

53 Of The Most Swoonworthy Love Songs From 2014

Atlantic Records

This year, Taylor Swift left Nashville for New York, said good-bye to the fiddles and fairy tales that made her famous, and released her “first documented, official pop album.” Full of sass and sick beats, 1989 is a departure from her previous work, but a lapsed romantic is still a romantic and underneath the cynicism and slick Swedish production, Taylor’s sentimental streak remains in tact. On the album’s best song, “Wildest Dreams,” Taylor reveals that while she’s given up on happily ever after, she hasn’t given up on love.

Heartbreaking lyric: “Say you’ll see me again / Even if it’s just pretend / Say you’ll remember me standing in a nice dress / Staring at the sunset”

4. Jessie Ware, “You & I (Forever)”

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There’s something refreshing about Jessie Ware’s unapologetic mushiness. She believes in loves that last forever and is matter-of-fact about it. She doesn’t try to downplay her feelings or dress them up. Instead of being flashy or provocative, “You & I (Forever)” is quietly confident. It’s warm and intimate, the musical equivalent of a long-term relationship.

Heartwarming lyric: “And then we’re gonna go until the wheels fall off / Till the wheels fall off / Can’t you see it? / It’s forever”

3. Hozier, “Take Me to Church”

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Irish newcomer Hozier preaches sin and sensuality on this bluesy foot-stomper. Equal parts sex and soul, this anthemic rock ‘n’ roll hymn elevates lovers to gods and urges disciples to worship in the bedroom. Amen. Amen. Amen.

Heartwarming lyric: “When the ritual begins / There is no sweeter innocence than our gentle sin”

2. Sam Smith, “Stay With Me”

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Not all love lasts. Not all love is requited. Not all love is real. But that’s why we need songs like Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me.” The slow-burning, gospel-tinged epic captures the exquisite pain and unique pleasure of having your heart broken. If you’re going through a bad breakup, this song (and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s) is all you need.

Heartbreaking lyric: “This ain’t love, it’s clear to see / But darling, stay with me”

1. Charli XCX, “Boom Clap”

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Pop-punk prom queen Charli XCX found love in a hopeless place — the soundtrack for the sure-to-make-you-cry cancer kid romance, The Fault in Our Stars. Instead of wallowing in the film’s heartbreak, she found “glitter in the darkness” and wrote the year’s best love song. Delicate and explosive, “Boom Clap” manages to capture both the excitement and uncertainty of new love.

Heartwarming lyric: “First kiss just like a drug / Under your influence / You take me over you’re the magic in my veins / This must be love”