2014 is more than half over and it's been quite a year for music already.
Album sales aren't looking so hot, admittedly. The only full-length to crack a million in sales so far in the U.S. is the "Frozen" soundtrack, which hit 2.7 million, while Beyonce's surprise self-titled album took the second place spot at 700,000 and only a handful of others (Eric Church, Lorde and Coldplay) cracked 500K. More than half a quarter of 2014's top 20 selling albums — Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, Lorde, Eminem and (barely) Beyonce — came out last year while ones from Bruno Mars, Imagine Dragons and Florida Georgia Line actually dropped in 2012. Four others are compilations.
The silver lining for albums is that vinyl sales are up 40 per cent, but really we're in the age of digital singles now and despite the rise of streaming services like Rdio, Google Play and (coming soon to Canada) Spotify sales are sky-high with Pharrell's perfectly named "Happy" moving 5.6 million, Katy Perry's Miley-esque "Dark Horse" selling four million and another 10 tunes selling over two million apiece.
But quantity doesn't necessarily equate with quality, and I found no lack of the latter when compiling this list of the best songs of 2014. It's been an incredibly strong year for singles, especially by new or new-to-you artists.
Long-running, sincerity-dripping synth-rockers Future Islands came out swinging with a viral performance on Letterman of their song-of-the-year contender "Seasons (Waiting On You)."
Lana Del Ray rebounded from the post "Saturday Night Live" backlash of her first album with the monster comeback track "West Coast," Lil Jon returned from the wilderness with the EDM floor-filler "Turn Down For What" and the critically beloved Robyn staged a low-key return thanks to collabs with Scandanavian peers Royksopp ("Do It Again") and Neneh Cherry ("Out of the Black."
Arianna Grande transcended her tween TV roots with the Iggy Azalea-assisted "Problems" while Sia and Charli XCX stopped selling their songs to other artists long enough to grab the spotlight with "Chandalier" and "Boom Clap," respectively. Sam Smith emerged as the year's brightest rising star thanks to the timeless "Stay With Me" and Against Me! gave pop-punk its soul back with personal-is-political rockers like "True Trans Soul Rebel."
Canadian acts also held their own, with Drake's winning "Trophies" and Deadmau5's floor-filling "My Pet Coelacanth," Chromeo breaking through in a big way with "Jealous (I Ain’t With It)," Kiesza coming out of nowhere with "Hideaway," Grimes scoring with her Rihanna reject "Go" and Death From Above 1979 reuniting on "Trainwreck 1979."
And that's just a sample of year so far. Here are our favourite songs so far, and please put your suggestions in the comments for any we may have missed.