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Skepta – ‘That’s Not Me’ (feat. JME)

Musically, ‘That’s Not Me’ is unquestionably the best grime track of the year. Forget ‘On A Level’, forget ‘Couple of Stacks’, and PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE forget ‘To Me To You (Bruv)’.

‘That’s Not Me’ gave Skepta an avenue to bring himself back to the scene with a revitalised image completely in sync with the track. He did away with his Gucci/Louis Vuitton wardrobe and donned a Sports Direct t-shirt and finished the look off with proper roadman attire. He came with an arsenal of references to the Golden Age of grime.

It’s the perfect representation of the grime scene as it is now – a self-referential revitalisation complete with classic Megadrive-beat-em-up synths that took grime from hardly serious to seriously hard.

Nathan Butler @PeakFiDem

Bring Me The Horizon – ‘Drown’

‘Drown’ left many fans shocked by the lack of heaviness on the track. However, it proved the diversity of the band and their ability to try something new. Their previous three albums have all been stylistically different, but still epic. Whilst this track did seem to have more of a pop element to it, it managed to keep the Bring Me The Horizon style but the most notable aspect is Oli’s vocal ability. Oli, best known for his screaming and growling, showed a softer side to his voice. The band performed this song at Wembley arena and it certainly had the audience jumping with excitement. Even though this song is a stand-alone track, it shows that BMTH’s next album is definitely one to look out for.

Chloe Rose Eaton @chloeroseeaton

Porter Robinson – ‘Lionhearted’

It’s already been called “the hottest record in the world” by Zane Lowe. ‘Lionhearted’ by electronic music producer Porter Robinson is an uplifting dance track that will definitely have you tapping your feet. The track is a collaboration with Swedish indie pop band, Urban Cone, bringing a fresher vibe to the table. Robinson successfully brings out the adrenaline with this banger, however contrasting with the rest of Worlds’ much more chill and ethereal feel with M83 inspired tracks such as “Sea of Voices”. ‘Lionhearted’ features Urban Cone’s vocals alongside various catchy synth arpeggios and piano chords and has the most excellent dynamics with both build-ups and breakdowns. The lyrics include themes of passion and optimism: “you won’t take away our will to fight”. The progressiveness of this thrilling and upbeat track works extremely well and it is no wonder why it has been named hottest record in the world.

Rosalyn Boder @rozzzle

Lykke Li – ‘Love Me Like I’m Not Made Of Stone’

2014 is undoubtedly going to be defined as the year of the pop banger, both in the mainstream and leftfield. However, despite the unfathomable amounts of euphoria available in the ‘Fancy’s and ‘Hey QT’s of the musical landscape , one of the year’s standout tracks came from  a 28 year old Swede going through the worst heartbreak of her life.

‘Love Me Like I’m Not Made Of Stone’ swaps Lykke Li‘s usually airy chamber pop for a sombrely strummed acoustic guitar, creating a musical backing that sounds as alone as she clearly does. Full attention is given to her vocal, and as she continues to plead, her voice noticeably breaks, signalling her own heart being ripped out. It’s far from the purest vocal you’ll have heard all year, but it’s certainly the most evocative emotionally.

Connor Cass @connorcass

Chiodos – ‘Duct Tape’

‘Duct Tape’ is an innovative track that brings a change of sound to Chiodos’ newest record Devil. The lyrics whisper the worries of self-doubt over a haunting symphony of strings and bells. Emotion is packed into every word and comes across in an ‘in-your-face’ way to convey the feelings in a single heart-wrenching moment. The agony and loathing of oneself is so sincere, forced upon the listener with wrenching vocals. A steady beat propels the song into a constant swirl of passion that draws anyone listening into the dark whirlpool of sensation. It’s evocative pull and ease of compulsion, is why ‘Duct Tape’ is one of the finest songs of the year.

Kaitlyn Ulrich @k_ulrich23

Exacta – ‘Home’

‘Home’ by Exacta is the perfect example of what a tech house track should be like. Powerful, bass-y and still somewhat mysterious, ‘Home’ will not only thrill you (especially when heard at 2am in the middle of a rave) but it will leave you wanting much more.

Released on Hot Since 82’s compilation album Knee Deep In Sound, it’s quite clear why it was deemed worthy enough to be included with the wonderful mixture of songs on the album.

Combining subtle sound effects, hard gritty synths and a groovy beat, ‘Home’ is the track that the tech house community can be proud of for 2014.

Joseph Skingsley @RetroJoseph

Saint Pepsi – ‘Fiona Coyne’

There’s nothing to not like about ‘Fiona Coyne’. From the magical video which follows a lonely chap and his disco ball best buddy (or partner perhaps? They were cuddled up in bed pretty close there…) on a quest to get some action to the track’s bubbly bounce, it’s just a good time. While currently in a state of limbo in regards to his moniker (corporations, man) ‘Fiona Coyne’ marks a giant leap from Ryan DeRobertis being just another vaporwave producer to something far more interesting. Built up from liquid disco guitars, chunky bass and a joyous horn section, this thing is packed with breezy hooks.

James Barlow @BassOddity

Tinashe – ‘2 On (ft. Schoolboy Q)’

Whilst DJ Mustard had long been gearing up to monopolise club hip-hop after the success of his inescapable hits with Tyga, Kid Ink and Ty Dolla $ign, it wasn’t until the dawn of 2014 that one of his productions was spearheaded by a female lead artist. Pairing with an exuberant artist fresh from inking a solo record deal with Sony, the resultant track ‘2 On’ served not only as Tinashe‘s lucrative launchpad into the limelight, but also as one of the most sonically dynamic and musically valuable songs of the year. Essentially a masterclass in delivering a turn up anthem without becoming self-parodical, Tinashe demonstrated how to ace a more minimal approach to the contemporary club banger – and yet still impress with a series of slick vocal runs and mesmerising hooks.

Joshua Pauley @PutUp0rShutUp

Tove Lo – ‘Out Of Mind’

Swedish artist Tove Lo, who brought you ‘Habits (Stay High)’ back in April, also released the song, ‘Out Of Mind’. This song explores the hard, hitting, hysterical emotions of an intense break-up, each verse is like a build up for the chorus. The instrumentation itself adds to the continuing build-up of verses, soft beats and rhythmic patterns throughout the track. As the chorus hits, Tove Lo’s vocals hit the peak, her overpowering voice and sensuality clearly take over. The underlying message shows this song can be for anyone who has experienced heartbreak, moving on and other related issues due to love. She’s definitely an artist to watch.

Gabrielle Marsden @GabbiMarsden

The Wytches – ‘Wire Frame Mattress’

2014 has been and incredible year for The Wytches – not only have they played at various festivals across the globe including SXSW, but the release of ‘Wire Frame Mattress’ has propelled them to the forefront of underground indie music. The band describe themselves as “surf doom” and ‘Wire Frame Mattress’ backs this up perfectly. The song is an assault on all of your senses leaving you wanting more and more. It has a slight surf feel, but with dingy guitar effects over which frontman Kristian Bell cries and screams his heart out The Wytches have an extremely unique sound which at the moment is currently matched by nobody.

Tom Staniszewski @What_Tom_Said_

Appleby – ‘Spit On Me’

Appleby‘s debut track is both disgusting and touching.  ‘Spit On Me’ debates the value of self-worth with some simple but incredibly effective lyricism,  building towards a climax in which control is somewhat shakily regained. It sounds less like a work of fiction and more of a day to day thought process, switching from one internal struggle to another. Appleby lays it all out and not all of it is pretty, but it’s still absolutely captivating.

Joe Price @BackwoodsAltar

More Than Life – ‘Do You Remember’

When you think of a song of the year, it’s normally cheerful, however with the release of What’s Left Of Me, one song in particular has captured another duration.

There is no song that can even compare to the absorbing numbness you will get when listening to this track as it’s simple structure breaks off as the track progresses. Broken, worn out screams are preached with passionate yells that in itself conjure a piercing past.

Lyrically the track resembles a heart-felt journey of 2014, packed with broken down paths that have left you beaten, while a shiver creeps up your spine from start to finish.

Isha Shah @L0wRegards

Slash – ‘World On Fire’

Since his debut solo album, Slash has collaborated with Alter Bridge frontman Myles Kennedy who now stands as the full time singer for Slash, also playing with The Conspirators. His first single from his recent album was the self-titled track ‘World On Fire’ – a classic rock n roll track from the legend himself.

It starts off with a killer riff which then grows to a much heavier chord progression. The loud drums add to this impactful sound. Myles Kennedy’s rock star vocals really fit well with sleazy, memorable guitar. ‘World On Fire’ is one of the best tracks of the year because it’s well written, brilliantly produced, catchy and memorable.

Megan McMillan

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