Every year, as we enter July, I sit down and think about my favourite songs of the year so far, and this year has been no less of a challenge than in previous ones. With over 300 songs downloaded and having listened to probably over 750 new songs this year, whittling them down to just fifty was a challenge. But here are my half-century of favourite songs, in a list that I’ll probably disagree with next week. But, anyway, here is a flavour of what I’ve really enjoyed listening to – tracks that may or may not have charted highly, but sound good anyway.
50) Picturehouse – ‘Rules of Science’
Released: 2014 Charted: N/A
A smooth, touching number to kick off our countdown, definitely up there with Passenger’s tear-jerker.
49) McMahon – ‘Fire’
Released: 25th May 2014 Charted: N/A
A perky, fast-paced song from this emerging Irish singer-songwriter.
48) Jessica Clemmons – ‘Single Tonight’
Released: 26th January 2014 Charted: N/A
A poppy slice of country that will get you line-dancing, or at least singing along.
47) Basim – ‘Cliché Love Song’
Released: 30th April 2014 Charted: #46
Yes, it might be Eurovision, but this Bruno Mars-sounding skat track is brilliant. Entries of ‘Undo’, ‘Children of the Universe’ and, of course, ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’ were also highlights of the competition that almost made the countdown.
46) Derek Ryan – ‘100 Numbers’
Released: February 2014 Charted: N/A
An usual sound of country meets Australian, this slower number works with its variety.
45) Chloe Howl – ‘Rumour’
Released: 9th March 2014 Charted: #84
After two brilliant singles in 2013, ‘Rumour’ cemented Howl as one of the best new artists around at the moment.
44) Cher – ‘I Walk Alone’
Released: 25th April 2014 Charted: N/A
Even long established artists can come back with corkers, and here’s one from Cher, giving her a much welcome dance makeover.
43) Kasabian – ‘eez-eh’
Released: 1st June 2014 Charted: #22
It may have been received with some raised eyebrows from their fan base, but this weird electronic comeback from the Leicester lads will hook you in after a few listens
42) Ed Sheeran – ‘Sing’
Released: 1st June 2014 Charted: #1
Another song with a shift in style for the artist, there’s a bit of a whiff of a sell-out as Sheeran jumps into the musical bed with man of the moment Pharrell Williams, but there’s something catchy about this change of direction.
41) Aloe Blacc – ‘The Man’
Released: 21st January 2014 Charted: #1
Though it may get most of its listening appeal from its shameless lifting of the Elton John tune, Aloe Blacc does at least go some way to make it his own.
40) Cookin’ on 3 Burners feat. Kylie Auldist – ‘Mind Made Up’
Released: 19th May 2014 Charted: N/A
Very retro in sound, this seventies feeling slow song will warm up any summer evening.
39) Ella Henderson – ‘Ghost’
Released: 8th June 2014 Charted: #1
The debut single from an X-Factor entrant, her soulful voice and the strong backing make this a must-hear record.
38) Kimberly Caldwell – ‘On the Weekend’
Released: 13th February 2014 Charted: N/A
With echoes of Bonnie Tyler with her gruff singing voice, ‘On The Weekend’ might be a slow burner but it’s powerful chorus and determined lyrics are great.
37) Chrissie Hynde – ‘You Or No One’
Released: 7th May 2014 Charted: N/A
The former Pretenders singer came back with this brilliant first single, with its simple titular hook sticking with you.
36) Fitz & The Tantrums – ‘The Walker’
Released: 5th May 2014 Charted: N/A
With the whistle riff that will not leave your head once you’ve heard it, here’s another great song for summer.
35) Florrie – ‘Free Falling’
Released: 27th April 2014 Charted: N/A
Mixing up EDM with something perhaps a bit more indie, the multi-layered composition has a really addictive quality.
34) Duck Sauce – ‘Radio Stereo’
Released: 5th January 2014 Charted: N/A
Songs about the radio are ten-a-penny – just ask the Buggles or Robbie Williams – but this dancey number from the creators of the Barbra Streisand song is great.
33) Nina Nesbitt – ‘Selfies’
Released: 7th February 2014 Charted: #40
Though vastly superior to the Chainsmokers song on a similar theme, this didn’t get as much traction as you’d think with the theme of selfies. Perhaps it’s because it’s got something more to say than the other song and is far more credible?
32) Michael Franti & Spearhead – ‘I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like)’
Released: 2nd June 2014 Charted: N/A
Another song that uses a whistle riff to pull you in, this a really positive summery song that took a year to reach these shores. Thankfully it did eventually!
31) Indiana – ‘Solo Dancing’
Released: 18th April 2014 Charted: #14
The throbbing electronic backing brings you into this song, but it’s the sultry vocals and brooding atmosphere of the record that keeps you with it.
30) Calvin Harris – ‘Summer’
Released: 14th March 2014 Charted: #1
In my opinion Calvin Harris has been in quite a rut musically recently, but his classical-themed ‘Summer’ is his best single in a long time, and the closest we’ve got recently to his better earlier singles.
29) Hedley – ‘Anything’
Released: 30th June 2014 Charted: N/A
A pop-punky number from the Canadian rockers. The central expletive-focussed chorus will mean it struggles to get a huge amount of radio airplay, but it’s a great song.
28) Lady Gaga – ‘G.U.Y.’
Released: 28th March 2014 Charted: #115
Lady GaGa has struggled with her recent singles, and this one sank without trace. Yes, the video is as unnecessarily outrageous as ever and the song more like a mash-up of her best bits, but it’s catchy and probably one of her best.
27) Shakira feat. Carlinhos Brown – ‘Dare (La La La)’
Released: 12th May 2014 Charted: #106
Released in two flavours – normal and world cup – it’s the football one with its tweaked lyrics that is the slightly better take, though there’s not a huge amount between them. It’s been a good year musically for Shakira – ‘Empire’ and ‘Can’t Remember To Forget You’ were strong contenders for the countdown – but not necessarily on the charts.
26) The Vamps – ‘Wild Heart’
Released: 16th February 2014 Charted: #3
With ‘Last Dance’ also proving a great pop song in 2014, it’s this single from the 1D-wannabes that hits the top fifty.
Stay tuned for the second part of my top fifty countdown. But below are just a few of the songs that just missed out of the top fifty that are well worth a listen…