2014’s Best Pop Singles: Idolator Editors Pick 20 Favorites
5. Lana Del Rey, “West Coast”
After the success of 2012’s Born To Die, Lana Del Rey came back with a more stripped-down image and sound this year. “West Coast,” released in April, was the first insight to Ultraviolence, and it was a dramatic departure from Del Rey’s usually orchestral production — thanks to the Dan Auerbach’s gritty guitar flicks, rusty synths and jagged percussion.
Many enjoyed the change, as the song debuted within the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100. Rather than relying on her soft upper register, Del Rey mesmerizes the listener with brooding, low vocals and a mysterious edge that would make Quentin Tarantino proud. The surf-rock nature of the tune seemed to be a promising insight to the Coney Island Queen’s latest project, but nothing else on the album sounded quite like “West Coast.” At least we still have the song as our soundtrack for endless summers to come. — BIANCA GRACIE
4. Nick Jonas, “Jealous”
Let’s not mince words: Everybody wanted to fuck Nick Jonas in 2014. The finally solo JoBro launched the campaign for his self-titled album modestly enough with lead single “Chains” over the summer, but it wasn’t until he began stripping off his clothes left and right for photo shoots that everyone stopped what they were doing and paid attention. Well, there was that and the fact that follow-up single “Jealous” is one of the best pop songs to come along in years.
Jonas plays the part of green-eyed lover on this chipper synth-pop gem, fully understanding that his better half is a total guy magnet, but unable to turn a blind eye to the situation. Sexy and emotional? What more could we ask for in a pop star pin-up? — ROBBIE DAW
3. Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX, “Fancy”
Iggy Azalea’s army of haters choose to believe that she is an overnight sensation, who owes her success to good looks and even better luck. They happily overlook the fact that the stunning Australian was on the mixtape grind for years — like every other budding rapper — before catching lightning in a bottle with “Fancy.”
A near-perfect mix of hip hop sass and pop hooks, the Charli-XCX-featuring chart-topper was a breath of fresh air on radio over the summer with its cheeky lyrics and long-overdue female twist on the ever-popular brag anthem. That beat is fire, the chorus is undeniable and Iggy proved, once and for all, that rap is universal. — MIKE WASS
2. Sia, “Chandelier”
You heard it, you watched the video, and you probably saw and heard a bunch of covers, too— both parody and in earnest. Sia’s “Chandelier” was an inescapable part of pop culture in 2014, and rightfully so: The soaring cautionary tale is a perfect blend of Sia’s unbelievable knack for crafting some of the pop world’s best hooks with her honest, heart wrenching brand of storytelling. The result is a smart yet undeniably catchy collision of vocal acrobatics (can anyone pull off that chorus better than Sia?) and teary-eyed warnings about party girls going a bit too hard.
Plus, the accompanying visual, featuring a mesmerizing, weird dance routine by Dance Moms starlet Maddie Ziegler, might just be the year’s most memorable moment in pop videos. — BRADLEY STERN
1. Clean Bandit featuring Jess Glynne, “Rather Be”
In a year when retro dance sounds dominated and overseas acts ruled American radio, it seems fitting that a quartet from the UK would mix house with classical music, add in vocals from a soulful new talent and come up with the perfect recipe for pop magic.
“Rather Be” blew up gradually, first in Clean Bandit’s home country last winter, then across Europe and, eventually, in the ready and willing United States, where the string-laden dance track cracked the Top 10. The song became so big that featured vocalist Jess Glynne flew over from England for the band’s Jimmy Kimmel Live performance and even recorded another single with the foursome, the equally-irresistible “Real Love.”
The charm of “Rather Be” is that it avoids some of the darker areas of deep house, and goes straight for the jugular with irresistible melodies and Glynne’s powerhouse vocals. The song occupies that space where anything seemed to go in 2014 — often with successful results — and, really, there’s no place we’d rather be. — ROBBIE DAW
Are any of your favorite songs of the year on our list? Let us know below!