2014’s Best Pop Singles: Idolator Editors Pick 20 Favorites
15. Banks, “Drowning”
BANKS was already known for her haunting tracks, thanks to her 2013 London EP. But her debut album proved the singer could translate that sound to the mainstream field. Take, for instance, the stunning “Drowning.” Taken as the third single from Goddess, the tune is one of the more underrated tracks of the year. (By the way, Goddess is Idolator’s top pick for 2014’s best albums.)
There is no doubt “Drowning” is about a woman scorned, but don’t think the singer is a victim! BANKS forces you to listen to her every word, with vocals so bitter that it almost makes you want to spit in shame. Combine that with seductive percussion, tribal-esque vocal effects, and the result is utterly striking. — BIANCA GRACIE
14. Route 94 featuring Jess Glynne, “My Love”
Route 94 gave house music a modern day anthem with this number. Hypnotic, moody and sexy as hell, “My Love” made the well-deserved transition from 2013 underground club jam in the UK to Annie Mac-championed pop smash in 2014. It also helped establish vocalist Jess Glynne as one of the year’s freshest new music forces.
Hats off to the on-point music video for “My Love,” as well, which depicts one young man’s journey through a dance club and back to the home of his one-night stand. Ah, the thrill of anonymous sex can be so fleeting. “My Love,” however, packs quite a long-lasting sensation. — ROBBIE DAW
13. Selena Gomez, “The Heart Wants What It Wants”
During her seven-year stint at Hollywood Records, Selena Gomez evolved from a perky pop-rocker to an alluring dance diva. She executed both roles admirably and delivered a series of memorable bops — greatest hits package For Youhelpfully curates her underrated discography — but neither genre felt entirely authentic. Happily, she found herself (and her sound) on final Hollywood Records single “The Heart Wants What It Wants.”
Produced by Rock Mafia, the mid-tempo ballad documents Sel’s on-again/off-again love affair with Justin Bieber. At least, that’s one interpretation. The great thing about “The Heart Wants What It Wants” is that the lyrics are general enough to apply to any destructive relationship, while specific enough to lend the song some unexpected grit. If this is the direction Selena is taking on her Interscope debut, Miley and Ariana are about to have some real competition. — MIKE WASS
12. Nico & Vinz, “Am I Wrong”
Nico & Vinz’s “Am I Wrong” was one of the most omnipresent songs of summer this year, and not since the ’80s heyday of a-ha had a Norwegian pop act made such an impact on America’s charts. The sunny duo’s self-confidence anthem shined bright during a 12-month stretch that, quite frankly, was a bit “off” with regards to popular music. And with its African rhythm and the positive nature of lyrics like “am I trippin’ for having a vision? / my prediction: Imma be on top of the world,” the song gave radio listeners something a bit left of center to digest in 2014.
“We invited our friends to listen to all the songs we had and everybody was pointing at ‘Am I Wrong’,” the duo’s Nico Sereba told Idolator in the fall. “They weren’t sure if it was going to work on radio, but they liked the song. The reason why they said that was because it’s so different from anything that’s out there.” — ROBBIE DAW
11. Jessie Ware, “Tough Love”
Who knew tough love could sound so sweet? After teaming up in the studio with Benny Blanco and Two Inch Punch (together known as BenZel), Jessie Ware seemingly pulled off the impossible, one-upping her already fantastic debut with an even richer follow-up in 2014. The haunting title track is a pretty accurate representation of the entire LP, full of sensual electronic ripples, throbbing drums and, of course, Jessie’s spine-tingling vocals. (She shows off the pipes on plenty of the record’s other tracks, but saves the sexy whispers for “Tough Love.”)
If this is Jessie’s definition of tough love, we don’t want her getting soft on us any time soon. — BRADLEY STERN