Monthly Report: August 2014 Singles

1. Clean Bandit f/ Jess Glynne - "Rather Be"
I first heard this a few months ago, when it was just one of those songs topping charts around the world that America was more or less ignoring. And it sounded really good then, but it didn't really grow on me until I finally started hearing it on the radio regularly. I like that it sounds really plush and detailed and modern, but there's something about the song itself that feels like a simple early '90s dance pop hit. I added all these songs to my running Spotify playlist of favorite 2014 singles, btw.

2. Kiesza - "Hideaway"
Another vaguely retro-but-not-too-retro house song that was huge all over Europe months ago that's just now getting traction here (same true of that okay Rita Ora song, although it's a bit more contemporary-sounding). I don't tend to be huge on this kind of stuff but I see why these songs blew up.

3. Bobby Shmurda - "Hot N****"
There's been a lot of justifiable skepticism towards the Bobby Shmurda phenomenon -- an NY kid does a video for a mixtape track over the beat from a Lloyd Banks song and then months later people notice how entertaining it is and the internet attention snowballs into a major label deal. It all sounds kind of silly, and it is. But at the same time, this very 2014 course of events has basically resulted in a kid spitting a bunch of bleak shit over a killer Jahlil Beats production with no chorus getting into mainstream radio rotation, which is fun. Rap songs that were clearly not written with radio in mind ending up there are a rare and precious phenomenon in this day and age. The fact that the label has already taken the original video off YouTube and thrown a completely unnecessary French Montana verse on the official single suggests that this could all get very boring and depressing very quickly, but at the moment it's a little fun and exciting to hear this on the radio.

4. Dierks Bentley - "Drunk On A Plane"
This is the kind of song title/premise that gets easy airplay in the era of bro country. But I have to hand it to Dierks, because he took the basic concept and teased it out with a backstory that makes the narrator into a sympathetic character, not just a drunken jerk, and it makes the silliness of the whole thing kind of winning and likable. I feel like this could and even should be adopted into a rom com.

5. AJR - "I'm Ready"
This is some kind of ludicrous would-be novelty hit that my local pop station has picked up a little bit -- a trio of brothers doing barbershop harmonies about "dancing 'til we're dumb in the dark" over squonky dubstep beats and a Spongebob Squarepants sample. I dunno if I would like this much if barberstep became a mainstream phenomenon, but as a weird little curio it's really catchy and kind of creative.

6. Migos - "Fight Night"
When Drake jumped on "Versace" a year ago and got Migos on the radio, it was widely assumed they'd forever remain in the 'biggest radio hit featured Drake' club, along with French Montana, A$AP Rocky, 2 Chainz, and (sigh) Meek Mill. But a couple weeks ago "Fight Night" surpassed "Versace" on the urban radio charts, which in a weird way is a major milestone for them, and I think they realize it -- when I tweeted something to that effect a couple weeks ago, it got RTed by a bunch of people, including the official Migos account (it has since climbed to #10 on said chart). This is probably my favorite song they've put out to date, partly because Takeoff has a unique voice and it's nice to hear him dominate the track instead of Quavo, who sounds more and more like Mike Jones every time I hear him. This song exists in that kind of uncomfortable continuum of rap songs that liken 'beating the pussy up' to actual acts of violence, but at least it's not as bad as when Jay-Z made it into an Ike Turner joke recently.

7. Jeezy f/ Jay-Z - "Seen It All"
Every Jay-Z verse continues to be treated like an event, but it's only maybe once a year now that one isn't completely dispiriting and underwhelming, and right now it's "Seen It All." Of course, it's kind of an old-fashioned dope game Jay verse, and he labors it a little bit ad libbing "real shit" over and over, and Jeezy's story about Jay supposedly tearing up when he recorded his verse is a little ridiculous. Still, pretty good song.

8. Jennifer Lopez - "First Love"
That A.K.A. is one of the best pop albums of the year is still an opinion I'm sticking to that I'm sure I will convince few of. The second single was my gateway to the album and I really think it could've been a huge hit for anyone else with more career momentum than J.Lo. This song really just resonates a lot for me personally, as someone who's still with their first love.

9. Phantogram - "Black Out Days"
"Fall In Love" is still one of the best singles of the year and Voices is a pretty solid album, this was a good follow-up single choice, wish it was getting more airplay.

10. Pharrell Williams - "Come Get It Bae"
I'm always fascinated when an artist follows a gigantic #1 hit with something people dislike so much that it misses the Hot 100 completely, which is what happened when "Marilyn Monroe" was released on the heels of "Happy." This one is good for getting the album campaign back on track, though, even with Miley in the mix I find it pretty enjoyable. I really hope "Brand New" becomes a single eventually, though.

Worst Single of the Month: Big Data f/ Joywave - "Dangerous"
I think that alt-rock radio has been pretty good this year, as far as newer acts getting a lot of play that are generally pretty decent, but this song that recently topped the charts, has really irritated me both for the similarity of the bass/drums arrangement to "Only" by Nine Inch Nails and for how innocuous and half-assed the song itself sounds to me.

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