Flavorwire Staffers’ Favorite Songs of 2014


We’ve already published our list of what we consider the best albums, lyrics, and essential songs of 2014. Not everything that stuck with Flavorwire’s writers made it onto those lists, though — which is why we’ve collected our personal favorite tracks of the year for your perusal. From Mac DeMarco to (of course) Perfume Genius, here’s what the Flavorwire staff couldn’t stop listening to in the last 12 months.

“Love Again (Akinyele Back),” by Run the Jewels feat. Gangsta Boo

I have too many to choose one (check out my playlist of 124 songs you need to hear before 2014 ends), but this sexed-up duet from Run the Jewels’ second album is one I can’t imagine living without in years to come. El-P sets the tone with a hazy beat that just sounds nasty, but its chorus of “dick in her mouth all day/clit in his mouth all day” really seals the deal for me. Sex and hip-hop aren’t exactly strangers, but it’s rare to hear a rap song truly embodying equal-opportunity sexuality for men and women — from male performers no less. Three 6 Mafia’s Gangsta Boo keeps her verse raunchy and cocky, while El-P’s part perfectly captures what it feels like to be attracted to someone you really respect but still want to do terrible, disgusting things to. — Jillian Mapes, Music Editor

“Queen,” by Perfume Genius

I still can’t believe Mike Hadreas got away with “Queen.” I couldn’t believe it the first time I heard him deadpan-croon the lyric of the year, “No family is safe when I sashay” — a lightning bolt of a line that sets off the whooshing thunder clap of percussion that follows it. I couldn’t believe it, watching the video, when Hadreas runway-stomped across a boardroom table full of corporate drones eating giant shrimp. And I really couldn’t believe it when I saw him perform the song on Letterman, in bloody lipstick, a bondage neckpiece, and a white suit cut for a female cabaret singer, being as queer — and straight-up weird — as he wanted to be. There’s nothing more exhilarating, in art, than the feeling of giddy incredulity you get watching someone smuggle radical ideas into a song or video or performance that anyone could see. More than anything else happening in music right now, “Queen” reminds me of a Derek Jarman movie, in the way that it pushes a political agenda decades more radical than same-sex marriage without ever sacrificing the poetry that fuels that vision. — Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief

“Transgender Dysphoria Blues,” by Against Me!

If the measure of a song’s worth is its ability to convey a message in a succinct and powerful manner, then this is the song of the year and then some. This is as perfect a three-minute song as Laura Jane Grace (or anyone else, really) has ever written, a song that’s as memorably melodic as it is emotionally coruscating. The subject matter is, obviously, Grace’s experience of transgender identity and the contrast between how she sees herself and how the rest of the world treats her — but the chorus (“Rough surf on the coast/ I wish I could’ve spent the whole day alone/ With you”) is that of a yearning love song. It only makes the verses more poignant — in a better world, Laura would be on the beach, free to be herself without any concern about what anyone else might think. — Tom Hawking, Deputy Editor

“Hi-Five,” by Angel Olsen

Where a Hank Williams riff — “I feel so lonesome I could cry” — sung by a siren turns into an anthem: “Are you lonely too? Hi-five! So am I!” From Burn Your Fire for No Witness, the album that soundtracked all of my writing this year, easily my most listened-to of 2014, and favorite too, now that I think about it. (Edited to add: that last sentence is a lie now that I’ve heard D’Angelo & The Vanguard’s Black Messiah.) — Elisabeth Donnelly, Nonfiction Editor

“Do You,” by Spoon

Your film editor is pushing 40 and not exactly on the musical vanguard (I liked the new U2 record, so), but I can’t tell you how many times I spun “Do You,” the best song on Spoon’s new record They Want My Soul. There’s nothing especially innovative or thought-provoking about it — Spoon is just a good goddamn band, tight and efficient and catchy without being insulting, and they’ve continued to make the act of creating a perfect four-minute pop song seem effortless. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor

“Hands Up,” by Vince Staples

The song that best defined 2014 for me is “Hands Up” by Vince Staples. A fearless evisceration of police logic, I hope it inspires protests every day in 2015. — Jonathon Sturgeon, Literary Editor

“Archie, Marry Me,” by Alvvays

A joyous little love song for the matrimonially ambivalent. Perfection in three minutes. — Sarah Seltzer, Editor-at-Large

“Catalina Fight Song,” by Joyce Manor

Short, loud, and fast: “Catalina Fight Song” is my most-played song of the year by a long shot, which is especially impressive considering it’s only 64 seconds long. — Pilot Viruet, TV Editor

“Digital Witness,” by St. Vincent

St. Vincent’s self-titled album was everything I’d hoped Arcade Fire’s Reflektor would be based on its title track, only to be sorely disappointed: a musical take on the digital age that’s insightful without being preachy. No track exemplifies this better than “Digital Witness,” in which Annie Clark wonders why she should bother doing anything she can’t share on social media — even sleep. Beats out ode-to-the-Internet-K-hole “Huey Newton,” but just barely. — Alison Herman, Editorial Assistant

Bestial Burden, by Pharmakon

The tracks of Pharmakon’s Bestial Burden are hard to separate. It’s one long guttural groan of the body betraying itself. — Alison Nastasi, Weekend Editor

“Passing Out Pieces,” by Mac DeMarco

Since the release of his excellent 2, Mac DeMarco has been pegged as a kind of softhearted sleaze. But with the release of “Passing Out Pieces,” Mac showed us two things: First, he wasn’t disappearing anytime soon. Second, he was capable of introspection and self-flagellation in a way that few of today’s indie stars are. Who, when watching the video for this song, would possibly imagine that the heart of the track lies in the existential difficulties of being a public figure known for hardcore goofing? — Shane Barnes, Editorial Apprentice

“Brooklyn Baby,” by Lana del Rey

With Brooklyn having just been declared the least affordable place to buy a house in the country, the already moribund idea of the “Brooklyn dream” further became a Brooklyn memory. Which is why Lana Del Rey’s semi-satirical ode to Brooklyn via her litany of hackneyed romanticisms seemed particularly relevant this year. The song doesn’t capture what Brooklyn ever was so much as it soundtracks the nostalgic illusions that overwhelm the reality of any place that was ever central to an artistic movement/moment. — Moze Halperin, Associate Editor