The Best Songs of 2014 (according to Melismatic)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Here it is -- The Big Kahuna. Every blog around this time is putting on proud display their list of what was the "cream of the crop" in 2014. Here are the songs that I felt most deserve a spot on your music player of choice. Please note the ranking is pretty arbitrary. Basically, these 100 tunes are good 'uns.

100. KIESZA - "Giant In My Heart"



99. KELIS - "Jerk Ribs"
98. KATY B - "What Love Is Made Of"
97. ELLE KING - "Ex's & Oh's
96. BROOKE CANDY - "Opulence"

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95. ELLA EYRE - "Comeback"

94. ARIANA GRANDE - "Break Free (feat. ZEDD)"
93. YOU + ME - "Break The Cycle"
92. TOVE LO - "Moments"
91. ZELLA DAY - "Sweet Ophelia"


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90. TOVE STRYKE - "Even If I'm Loud It Doesn't Mean I'm Talking To You"


89. SHAKIRA - "Dare (La La La)"
88. THE FRAY - "Love Don't Die"
87. SIA - "Chandelier"
86. TENSNAKE - "Love Sublime (feat. NILE ROGERS & FIORA)"


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85. RUPAUL - "Sissy That Walk"


84. LENA FAYRE - "Love Burning Alive"
83. KATY B - "Aaliyah (feat. JESSIE WARE)"
82. NICK JONAS - "Chains"
81. PANAMA WEDDING - "All Of The People"


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80. KYLIE MINOGUE - "Million Miles"


79. LILY ALLEN - "URL Badman"
78. KIMBRA - "90's Music"
77. KATE BOY - "Northern Lights"
76. JESSE MCCARTNEY - "Young Love"
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75. SUPER JUNIOR - "MAMACITA"


74. JAZMIN SISTERS - "You"
73. CALVIN HARRIS - "Pray To God (feat. HAIM)"
72. FALL OUT BOY - "Centuries"
71. BROODS - "Mother & Father"


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70. INGRID MICHAELSON - "Warpath"


69. BEBE REXHA - "I Can't Stop Drinking About You"
68. WRATHSCHILD - "Angeles"
67. RIXTON - "Me And My Broken Heart"
66. PHARRELL WILLIAMS - "Come Get It Bae"


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65. NONONO - "Like The Wind"


64. NICO & VINZ - "Am I Wrong"
63. NEON JUNGLE - "Braveheart"
62. NATALIA KILLS - "Trouble (Cherry Cherry Boom Boom Remix)"
61. MO - "Walk This Way"


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60. MADDIE & TAE - "Girl In A Country Song"


59. LORDE - "Yellow Flicker Beat"
58. LITTLE MIX - "Move"
57. JESSI MALAY - "Fetish"
56. HILARY DUFF - "All About You"


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55. JENNIFER LOPEZ - "Booty"


54. HAIM - "My Song 5 (feat. A$AP FERG)"
53. FIFTH HARMONY - "Sledgehammer"
52. ED SHEERAN - "Sing"
51. DJ SNAKE & LIL JON - "Turn Down For What"


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50. BETTY WHO - "Glory Days"


49. BECKY G - "Shower"
48. ASTR - "Operate"
47. 5 SECONDS OF SUMMER - "She Looks So Perfect"
46. VERITE - "ECHO"


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45. MIRANDA LAMBERT - "Somethin' Bad (feat. CARRIE UNDERWOOD)"


44. LILY ALLEN - "Hard Out Here"
43. LA ROUX - "Uptight Downtown"
42. KYLIE MINOGUE - "Sexercise"
41. EDEN XO - "Too Cool To Dance"



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40. DISCLOSURE - "F For You (feat. MARY J. BLIGE)"


39. BLEACHERS - "I Wanna Get Better"
38. STRANGE TALK - "Young Hearts"
37. 
ERIK HASSLE - "Pathetic"36. ROYKSOPP & ROBYN - "Do It Again"



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35. TAYLOR SWIFT - "Shake It Off"


34. M.O. - "For A Minute"
33. KARMIN - "I Want It All"
32. CHRISTINA GRIMMIE - "Must Be Love"
31. CHLOE HOWL - "Rumour"


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30. DANITY KANE - "All In A Day's Work"


29. COLBIEI CAILLAT - "Live It Up"
28. CHROMEO - "Jealous (I Ain't With It)"
27. LINDSEY STIRLING - "Shatter Me (feat. LZZY HALE)"
26. KONGOS - "Come With Me Now"

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25. IGGY AZALEA - "Black Widow (feat. RITA ORA)"


24. SAM SMITH - "Stay With Me"
23. DJ CASSIDY - "Calling All Hearts (feat. ROBIN THICKE & JESSIE J)"
22. MEGHAN TRAINOR - "All About That Bass"
21. RAIN - "30 Sexy"


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20. KATY PERRY - "Birthday"


19. FIFTH HARMONY - "Bo$$"
18. TOVE LO - "Thousand Miles"
17. PALOMA FAITH - "Only Love Can Hurt Like This"
16. NICK JONAS - "Jealous"


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15. NEON HITCH - "Yard Sale"



14. ARIANA GRANDE - "Problem (feat. IGGY AZALEA)"
13. KATE BOY - "Self Control"
12. ED SHEERAN - "Don't"
11. GORDON CITY - "Ready For Your Love (feat. MNEK)"


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10. G.R.L. - "Ugly Heart"




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9. SHEPPARD - "Geronimo"




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8. CHARLI XCX - "Boom Clap"




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7. PHARRELL WILLIAMS - "Marilyn Monroe"


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6. 
MARK RONSON - "Uptown Funk (feat. BRUNO MARS)"

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5. JESSIE WARE - "Tough Love"




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4. JESSE McCARTNEY - "Superbad"




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3. KATY B - "Crying For No Reason"




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2. KIESZA - "Hideaway"


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1. JESSIE J - "Bang Bang (feat. ARIANA GRANDE & NICK MINAJ)"

The Best Albums of 2014 (according to Melismatic)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Before we get to songs (which is a whole other animal to be quite honest), let's chat about the must have albums released this year. The stipulations for this list are thusly: any LP or EP that was released in 2014 that had more than five original songs on it. Each eligible album is given a percentage by yours truly based on total number of original songs (remixes or alternate song takes are not included) divided by number of songs I actively enjoy and was impressed by. It goes without saying this list is my own opinion, kthanks.

The order may surprise you...


HONORABLE MENTIONS: 
JESSIE J - Sweet Talker
KONGOS - Lunatic
F(X) - Red Light
LP - Forever For Now
IGGY AZALEA - The New Classic
CHARLI XCX - Sucker

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15. JESSIE WARE - Tough Love

14. MO - No Mythologies To Follow

13. STRANGE TALK - Cast Away

12. ED SHEERAN - X

11. NICK JONAS - Nick Jonas


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10. ROYKSOPP & ROBYN - Do It Again

9. KIESZA - Sound of A Woman

8. SUPER JUNIOR - Mamacita

7. JESSE MCCARTNEY - In Technicolor

6. KYLIE MINOGUE - Kiss Me Once


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5. COLBIE CAILLAT - Gypsy Heart Side A


4. PHARRELL WILLIAMS -  G I R L

3. PALOMA FAITH - A Perfect Contradiction

2. BETTY WHO - Take Me When You Go

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and...

1. TOVE LO - Queen of The Clouds


A YEAR IN REVIEW: 2014's 'Live From New York'

Saturday, December 13, 2014

It can't be just me who feels like this year flew by, right? I did something crazy this year and actually put together a 'Best Of' list. You might be thinking -- that's insane! Melismatic never does 'Best Of's' (anymore).  Nope, that changes now. You're welcome in advance.

Before we get to that, let's take a look back at all of the fantastic shows I was lucky enough to see this year...not including the superb Broadway shows that are 'Matilda', 'Once', 'Newsies', 'Hedwig & the Angry Inch', 'Beautiful: the Carole King Musical', 'Motown', 'Side Show' and the soon to be included 'Into The Woods'. 


TOTAL ARTISTS SEEN IN 2014: 
Forty-One (decent,  huh?)






















#blessed, amirite?

BEAUTY BREAK: Getting Pretty'd Up for the Holidays with One Direction Makeup

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Nope, you did not read that title incorrectly. Are you ready to get glam this holiday season with

Harry, Zayn, Niall, Louis, & Liam?

The good folks over at Markwins (who also house affordable but effective cosmetics lines like Physicians Formula and Wet n Wild) have recently joined forces with the music scene's biggest boy band (of the moment, at least), creating a new line of cosmetics just in time for the holiday season dubbed Makeup by One Direction. I've had the chance to sample some of the line and would like to share my thoughts with you.

Markwins has sent me three selections of this rather large cosmetics line offering: Electroglam Mascara, Rock Me Nail Varnish, and Liquilights Glow Lip Gloss.

Each type of cosmetic came in a set of three, that retail for around $17 a piece. All of the items came to me in pretty luxe packaging, featuring a brick background, with a plastic overlay that features the One Direction band logo and embossed autographs (heyyy!) by each of the boys. Sorry Directioners, no photos of the boys are featured on the packaging I received (womp womp).

First up, the Electroglam Mascara. According to the packaging, you can use the mascara on your hair or on your eyes, if you're really daring. The three colors are: Does He Know? (bright hot pink), Why Don't We Go There (blue), and Story Of My Life (highlighter yellow).

Personally, my initial thought was that these shades are a little too bright for me to put on my eyelashes. But because I'm doing this review for you all -- and for science -- I tried all three mascaras on both my hair and my eyelashes. I was surprisingly most partial to the yellow, as it really showed up best. My hair is naturally very dark and also very curly, so colored hair mascara just doesn't work for me in general. My suggestion if you'd like to use these in your hair -- comb it through your ends for a fun pop of color.

Next, the Rock Me Nail Varnish (you know it's legit 1D merch because it use British colloquialism of "nail varnish" -- here in the States we just say "nail polish").  The shades of polish included in the kit are: Happily (a dark blue seen to the left -- however, it did take about four coats to have real coverage), Moments (a cool-toned hot pink), and Diana (a silver-based glitter bomb full of different sizes of silver glitter -- some of which are holographic). The kit also includes three bonus loose glitter pots: Kicks ("snow cone" blue glitter), Not Afraid (pink glitter), and Star (a gorgeous pinky purple iridescent glitter that I'm wearing as easy nail art to the left -- yes, it's that dense).

The packaging for the polishes is much akin to the butter LONDON polishes (although slightly smaller. On the black cap is the familiar brick embossing that is on the outer packaging.

My favorite part of the nail kit was obviously the glitter -- it was quite easy to apply and, in particular, the Star glitter is so ridiculously beautiful.

Finally, my personal favorite of the samples I received, the LiquiLights Glow Lip Gloss. The shades I received are: Taken (a cool-toned hot pink gloss with lots of shimmer), Kiss You (a coral-y, creamsicle shimmer shade), and Through The Dark (a warm red with, again, lots of shimmer).

The glosses are surprisingly not too sticky and come in some great packaging. The color payoff is pretty substantial (especially for a gloss). You can wear them alone a nice wash of color and sparkle, or layer it over a similar shade of lipstick for more pow. They all have a bit of a sugar-y scent to them too which is enjoyable --  but by far the best scented (and my favorite color) is the pretty pink shade (Taken).

TOP:Through The Night. MIDDLE: Kiss You. BOTTOM: Taken.

However, if you don't like shimmery things, this is not for you. When trying these suckers out, even when the color/gloss starts to fade off, my lips were still lined with glitter. 

Per the description, these glosses are also UV-reactive and "change color" under UV light (aka "blacklight"). 

This line is available for purchase right now and the lip gloss set in particular would make for a great gift for any 1D-obsessed gal or guy on your holiday list. For more on the complete Makeup By One Direction line, check out https://www.facebook.com/MakeupbyOneDirection. My thanks to Markwins and BrandBacker for the opportunity to try out this these cute products!

*Sponsored Post, powered by BrandBacker.

HEAR THIS: Mark & Bruno Shoot for "Uptown Funk"

Sunday, November 16, 2014

I'm well aware that the fab new single "Uptown Funk" is the lead offering from producer wunderkind Mark Ronson's upcoming fourth album project, Uptown Special. However, he can give Mr. Bruno Mars all the credit due for me having any interest in this project at all.

I'm no Ronson Hater -- it's hard to be a fan of modern music and not feel the weight of Ronson's production brilliance (Amy Winehouse, Adele, Christina Aguilera, Solange, even Bruno himself). But for me, I personally feel like Bruno Mars can do no wrong (and the weight for Album #3 is truly killing me).

"Uptown Funk" plays to Bruno's vocal strengths and relishes in the style that Ronson is so gifted at crafting -- a throwback feel to times long before everything was Auto-Tuned, Four on the Floor. The layered handclaps, guitar, and vocal bass takes everything right back to the 70's. The Commodores, Earth Wind & Fire, KC & the Sunshine Band, awwww, yes honey! "Funk" in the title is no accident.



2015 is a breath away but this remains to be a late entry to one of the best songs released in 2014. I'm saying, though.

BACK IN THE DAY: Retro Rewind in the Q4 Time Machine

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Those of you who know me know I'm a bit of a Chart Nerd. Today, in the vein of a Back In The Day meets my old What's Going On columns of yore, we're going to take a trip in the DeLorean (if you don't get that reference, you're too young for me) and see how music (and the Hot 100) has changed in the past twenty years. Let me know what you think of this format in the comments -- I'm really enjoying it.
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TWENTY YEARS AGO
1994 - Dance Hits & True R&B Strength

10. Craig Mack - "Flava In Your Ear"
9. Janet Jackson - "You Want This / 70's Love Groove"
8. Immature - "Never Lie"
7. Brandy - "I Wanna Be Down"
6. Madonna - "Secret"
5. Bon Jovi - "Always"
4. Real McCoy - "Another Night"
3. Sheryl Crow - "All I Wanna Do"
2. Ini Kamoze - "Here Comes the Hotstepper"
1. Boyz II Men - "I'll Make Love To You"

Twenty years should feel like an eon ago, but when you also followup that statement with the year 1994, it's pretty hard to believe the two equate to the same thing. I was seven years old and there was so much fantastic dancey R&B on the radio. Janet Jackson's iconic janet. album, now 21 years old and among the first I ever bought, continued to spawn hits, "You Want This" being one of the lesser remembered among the era of "If" and "Again". Brandy burst onto the scene with her first song ever, "I Wanna Be Down". Boyz II Men were slaying everyone with yet another beautiful, timeless ballad.

In the midst of this, Sheryl Crow was also in the midst of making her first mark on the industry, promoting "All I Wanna Do" off her debut album, Tuesday Night Music Club. Heavyweights Madonna and Bon Jovi were releasing ace ballads that would continue to hold up through the test of time. 

Remember Real McCoy? "Another Night" was the namesake for their debut album for this German dance group and also contained radio staples in "Come And Get Your Love" and "Run Away". 


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FIFTEEN YEARS AGO
1999 - Pop Staples

10. Len - Steal My Sunshine
9. Jessica Simpson - I Wanna Love You Forever
8. Whitney Houston - My Love Is Your Love
7. TLC - Unpretty
6. Puff Daddy - Satisfy You (feat. R. Kelly)
5. Mariah Carey - Heartbreaker (feat. Jay-Z)
4. Marc Anthony - I Need To Know
3. Lou Bega - Mambo #5 (A Little Bit Of...)
2. Brian McKnight - Back At One
1. Santana - Smooth (feat. Rob Thomas)

Ahhh, 1999. It was the time most pop afficionados recall to be the last big music boom -- CDs were still being purchased (and in mass quantities), MP3s were still a somewhat foriegn concept, and there was a new teenaged popstar being hustled out to the masses every week. As for me, I was in the seventh grade and the key demographic for the teen pop fluff that was so utterly popular during this time.

The Top 10 contained not one but two "one hit wonders" (Len, Lou Bega), although many would be keen to also toss Marc Anthony into that fold (at least in terms of his mainstream catalog). America was knee-deep in the 'Latin Explosion' as it was dubbed with Anthony's debut English song, the dancey "Mambo #5" (although it should be said that Lou Bega is actually German), and the iconic Santana and Rob Thomas keeping it "Smooth" at #1.

Familiar heavyweights abounded. Mariah Carey sexed it up with "Heartbreaker" (with Jay-Z by her side -- pre-Beyonce and pre-mainstream acceptance and embrace, it would be ten more years before Miley Cyrus is name checking him in her own hit). Whitney Houston's "My Love Is Your Love" was written by Wyclef Jean, produced by Darkchild, and was from arguably her last great effort in the album of the same name. TLC's "Unpretty" was off the heels of the groundbreaking "No Scrubs". "Back At One" was essentially Brian McKnight's final "big" hit despite making an indelible mark on mainstream R&B (and many mainstream male pop artists including Justin Timberlake).  And Diddy (back then known as Puff Daddy) was the biggest rapper in the game.

The Teen Pop I was so partial to is also present here. While Christina Aguilera's debut "Genie In A Bottle" and Britney Spears' early hit "(You Drive Me) Crazy" would land just outside the Top 10 at this point in time, the Bronze Blonde Bombshell -- Jessica Simpson -- tried her hand with her debut single "I Wanna Love You Forever". It wouldn't be for a few more albums (and a reality show where she confuses chicken with tuna) that she'd really gain a footing from outside the two aforementioned's shadow.


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TEN YEARS AGO
2004 - Party Rap is King

10. Eminem - "Just Lose It"
9. Ja Rule - "Wonderful (feat. R. Kelly & Ashanti)"
8. Trick Daddy - "Let's Go (feat. Lil Jon & Twista)"
7. Maroon 5 - "She Will Be Loved"
6. Kelly Clarkson - "Breakaway"
5. Ciara - "Goodies (feat. Petey Pablo)"
4. Nelly - "Over & Over (feat. Tim McGraw)"
3. Destiny's Child - "Lose My Breath"
2. Snoop Dogg - "Drop It Like Its Hot (feat. Pharrell)"
1. Usher - "My Boo (feat. Alicia Keys)"

By 2004, it was clear that the majority of mainstream hip hop was no longer about talking about real world issues but more about making you dance (while using choice vocabulary). At this time in 2004, I had entered my senior year of high school.

Much of the "hip hop" (term used loosely, I suppose) that littered the top ten was at the hands of familiar faces. Undoubtedly, the three biggest artists of the time were Eminem, Ja Rule and Nelly -- all three having huge successful runs despite their styles of rap being starkly different. "Drop It Like Its Hot" marked the true "return" of OG Snoop Dogg and the world was officially introduced to a young Pharrell Williams who showed us "these ice creams" with a rap verse in this now iconic jam that was produced by his production group The Neptunes. Who would have thought ten years later we'd all be jamming to him singing instead on G I R L?

I remember giving Nelly a lot of props for "Over and Over", a departure from his usual works that featured country star Tim McGraw. The song received mixed reviews, mostly because Nelly himself was singing (interesting juxtaposition when you compare him to Pharrell -- the difference being Pharrell can really sing). Nelly tried to replicate this weird bit of magic somewhat recently when he jumped on a remix of Florida Georgia Line's breakthrough hit "Cruise".

Trick Daddy's "Let's Go" was a dark horse and mostly gained spins due to its heavy reliance on the Ozzy Osbourne song it sampled ("Crazy Train"). You might recall this was during the height of fame for The Osbournes reality show on MTV.

Maroon 5 and Ciara were rookies back then, both promoting their debut albums. Meanwhile, Destiny's Child returned to the game as a trio following Beyonce's runaway solo success with her Dangerously In Love album. The Usher and Alicia Keys duet was a tacked on addition to his brilliant and ridiculously successful Confessions album, that drew comparisons to Michael Jackson for the amount of hit singles it spawned.


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FIVE YEARS AGO
2009 - Girl Power + The Rise of Production Houses

10. Beyonce - "Sweet Dreams"
9. Rihanna - "Russian Roulette"
8. Britney Spears - "3"
7. Lady Gaga - "Paparazzi"
6. Miley Cyrus - "Party In The U.S.A."
5. Jay Sean - "Down (feat. Lil Wayne)"
4. Iyaz - "Replay"
3. Jason DeRulo - "Whatcha Say"
2. Jay-Z & Alicia Keys - "Empire State of Mind"
1. Owl City - "Fireflies"

2009 marked the end of one era for me and the beginning of another. I had graduated from college that May and my one year anniversary of living in New York City was looming. This blog was also celebrating its one year anniversary!

Clearly its true what they say about trends coming back into vogue every ten years -- while 2009 wasn't quite as utterly poppy as 1999 turned out to be, it didn't do too badly for itself. Half of the songs in the Top 10 were by female pop powerhouse brands that continue to have hits (although in some cases, more minor ones) to this day.

Following the Pre-Grammy Fight Heard Round The World, "Russian Roulette" marked the beginning of a darker, tougher Rihanna and the true beginning of her image change post-Good Girl Gone Bad that made her a star. Lady Gaga was still spinning hits from her debut set while Miley Cyrus made one last big pop bow (with a song co-written by a pre-fame Jessie J) before making twerking a word on everyone's lips. Interesting that she sings "And a Britney song was on!" as Britney sits just below her at #8.

It was also the era of the Franchise Producer. While Max Martin and the Cheiron gang were carrying the torch with Britney's "3" (and Martin continues to to this day), 2009 saw the rise of RedOne ("Paparazzi"), Dr. Luke ("Party In The U.S.A.") and Beluga Heights/J.R Rotem ("Replay", "Whatcha Say"). 


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CURRENT DAY
2014 - International, Multi-Genre Mainstream

10. Hozier - "Take Me To Church"
9. Ed Sheeran - "Don't"
8. Bobby Shmurda - "Hot Boy"
7. Jeremih - "Don't Tell 'Em (feat. YG)"
6. Iggy Azalea - "Black Widow (feat. Rita Ora)"
5. Jessie J - "Bang Bang (feat. Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj)"
4. Maroon 5 - "Animals"
3. Tove Lo - "Habits (Stay High)"
2. Megan Trainer - "All About That Bass"
1. Taylor Swift - "Shake It Off"


While it's arguable that 2009 marked a true pop boom, the scales in 2014's mainstream pop music landscape have shifted to be a party where everyone's invited. The current Top 10 can be noted for relying more on the ladies. It features five female popstars (Rita Ora, Jessie J, Tove Lo, Megan Trainor, and arguably Taylor Swift) and a teen pop starlet (Ariana Grande), along with not one but two female rappers, undoubtedly the two biggest in the game for this current generation (Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea).

In addition to being female heavy, the current American landscape is wrought with international acts taking up the majority of the space. Irish alt-rocker Hozier, Brits Ed Sheeran and the aforementioned Jessie J, Australian Iggy Azalea, and Swedish pop-upstart Tove Lo account for almost half of the artists represented.

Maroon 5 who appear here at #4 remain to be the only act that also had relevancy not just five years ago but ten years ago. Five of the acts in the current Top 10 can be considered "rookies", promoting songs on their debut album (Hozier, Bobby Shmurda, Tove Lo, Megan Trainer, and Iggy Azalea).

While still relevant five years ago, it's unclear to tell when was the true Era of Taylor Swift -- her record-breaking sales have always been impressive since her rise with "Teardrops On My Guitar" all those years ago. Her change-over to pop should be nothing new, she's been emulating Shania Twain long before Red hit shelves. "Shake It Off" is an interesting jam because not only does she poke fun at herself (for once) which I respect, it also has shades of Toni Basil's "Hey Mickey" (and Rihanna's "Umbrella").




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