Welcome back everyone! Today the countdown continues with songs 50-41 of the 101 Biggest Hits of 2014! If this is your first time checking in on the countdown, please read this for the process by which I ranked the songs you are about to see! Without further ado, let’s pick up where we left off with song #50!
#50: The Man by Aloe Blacc
Peak: #8 2014 Weeks on Chart: 19 Points: 1552
Aloe Blacc broke through anonymously last year, lending his vocals to Avicii’s global hit “Wake Me Up.” This year though, he proved that he was able to produce a hit single all to his own, pushing “The Man” all the way to the Top 10. Used in almost every imaginable sports setting, as well as an oft-viewed Beats by Dre commercial, “The Man” utilized its commercial popularity to secure airplay throughout the first few months of the year. Aloe Blacc also took advantage of a recent trend in pop music: interpolating the lyrics of earlier popular songs in crafting a new hook. In the case of “The Man,” the chorus begins with the infamous opening lines of the chorus to Elton John’s classic “Your Song.”
#49: Classic by MKTO
Peak: #14 2014 Weeks on Chart: 27 Points: 1610
“Classic” is a rare example of a song that I heard on the radio well before I saw it pop up on the Hot 100. Towards the end of summer 2013, my local hits station played MKTO’s debut single a few times, but I didn’t think too much of it. But then in spring of this year, it made its debut and I suddenly remembered why it sounded so familiar. Blending a 1970s feel with very modern production, “Classic” sounded nearly every bit as retro as its lyrical content would suggest. The song rode consistent radio airplay all the way into the Top 20 over the summer, and remained in the upper regions of the chart for the entirety of the season.
#48: Royals by Lorde
Peak: #4 (#1 in 2013) 2014 Weeks on Chart: 20 Points: 1621
Just like “Wrecking Ball,” “Royals” saw its chart run spliced into two halves due to its August debut on the Hot 100. Despite starting its run atop the chart in October, it somehow found itself still inside the Top 5 once 2014 began, which helped it remain on the Hot 100 all the way into May. What makes this longevity impressive is the fact that Lorde is not a one-hit wonder. While “Royals” was still enjoying a healthy and gradual denouement off the chart, the almost-equally successful “Team” was hitting the Top 10 in its own right. It’s very rare to see an artist’s first two singles co-exist for a long time together (e.g. when Katy Perry broke out in 2008, “I Kissed A Girl” was quickly replaced by “Hot N Cold”).
#47: A Sky Full Of Stars by Coldplay
Peak: #10 2014 Weeks on Chart: 26 Points: 1627
Gaining their first Top 10 single since “Viva La Vida” was arguably the biggest hit of 2008, Coldplay saw their return to the radio with the wildly successful “A Sky Full Of Stars.” One of the few uptempo tracks on the otherwise somber Ghost Stories album, “Sky” features uncredited production from Avicii, which grants the song its infectiously danceable post-chorus romp. The chart run of “A Sky Full Of Stars” is an interesting journey worth noting as well. After reaching #10 in just its second week on the chart thanks to digital sales, it quickly plummeted, and was in jeopardy of leaving the chart within a month of its debut. But slowly but surely, radio airplay brought it back from the dead, re-reaching the Top 20 nearly five months later.
#46: Wiggle by Jason Derulo f/Snoop Dogg
Peak: #5 2014 Weeks on Chart: 21 Points: 1631
Easily one of 2014’s silliest songs, “Wiggle” feels as if it was born as an idea to follow-up the massive success of “Talk Dirty.” Luckily for Mr. Derulo, that’s exactly how it played out, giving him consecutive Top 5 singles for the first time since 2009. Featuring the quotable line “you know what to do with that big fat butt” as well as yet another non sequitur drop, “Wiggle” became one of those summer hits that you couldn’t quite remove from your head. Throw in Snoop Dogg on an intentionally humorous verse and it’s no wonder that “Wiggle” was easily able to reach #5 and give Derulo his fifth Top 40 single off his Talk Dirty album.
#45: Shake It Off by Taylor Swift
Peak: #1 (for 4 weeks) 2014 Weeks on Chart: 17 Points: 1669
We’re over halfway into the countdown and we’ve finally reached our first song to have spent time at #1 this year. Now I know what you’re thinking: how on Earth isn’t “Shake It Off” much higher on this countdown? You’d be right to mention its unavoidability these past few months, and its importance to the year of pop music as a whole. But remember, my points system rewards longevity as much as it acknowledges peak position. And its late August debut simply gave it too little time to make a push for the year-end Top 25. However, Swift’s infectious pop anthem managed to spend all its 2014 weeks inside the Top 10 (including becoming the first song to debut at #1 since “Harlem Shake”), which helped it secure enough points to fly onto the countdown anyway.
#44: Burn by Ellie Goulding
Peak: #13 2014 Weeks on Chart: 21 Points: 1680
For those of you who thought it’d be hard for Ellie Goulding to ever have another hit on the same level as “Lights,” she proved you wrong with the equally-everlasting “Burn,” which split its time evenly between 2013 and 2014. Since “Lights” was technically recorded in 2009, “Burn” represented a full four years of passage and musical growth for Goulding, who once again utilized strong production values to bring us yet another inescapable pop smash destined to become a radio darling. I saw plenty of commercials in the past year use “Burn” as background music, and it spent more than a dozen weeks inside the teens on the Hot 100 at the beginning of the year.
#43: Don’t by Ed Sheeran
Peak: #9 2014 Weeks on Chart: 27 Points: 1691
Another interesting juxtaposition of the countdown: it’s widely believed that “Don’t” was written as a breakup track about Ed Sheeran’s relationship with Ellie Goulding. Brimming with anger, “Don’t” crackled with verbose energy, making it one of my favorite listens of the year. Featuring an interesting beat sampling from Lucy Pearl’s “Don’t Mess With My Man,” Sheeran rode this uptempo rant all the way to becoming his first Top 10 single. Its success has been recently surpassed by current single “Thinking Out Loud,” but “Don’t” continues to find itself in the Top 20 at the time of publication, and will likely become the biggest point-getter in the Brit’s young career.
#42: Drunk In Love by Beyoncé f/Jay-Z
Peak: #2 2014 Weeks on Chart: 20 Points: 1698
As the first immediate beneficiary of Beyoncé’s surprise album release, “Drunk In Love” debuted highly in the first calendar week of 2014, and quickly became the young year’s first big hit. Brimming with sexual energy and featuring a verse from her husband Jay-Z, “Drunk In Love” seemed to be written with the club in mind, and it became Beyoncé’s highest-charting effort since “Single Ladies” in 2008. Rolling Stone named it the Best Song of 2014, a ranking I dispute on multiple grounds (the main one being its December 2013 release). I can safely bet that it’s also the first song to mention surfboards since the Beach Boys’ heyday, but you can check on that for me.
#41: Na Na by Trey Songz
Peak: #21 2014 Weeks on Chart: 28 Points: 1702
If you were looking for an Exhibit A for the power that DJ Mustard held in 2014, look no further than “Na Na,” an early-year single for Trey Songz which defied all of my expectations. Not only did it peak all the way up at #21, but it spent a staggering seven months on the chart, refusing to follow every chart convention and dwindle. There’s not really much I can say about the song: it’s a fairly standard R&B/pop crossover interspersed with Mustard’s trademark background chants. But that was enough to elevate “Na Na” to the upper regions of the Hot 100 and give Mr. Songz his first legitimate hit since his twin successes in 2010 with “Say Aah” and “Bottoms Up.”
Only 40 songs remain unrevealed on the 101 Biggest Hits of 2014! Be sure to check tomorrow for songs 40-31 on the countdown as we get closer and closer to crowning a definitive Song of 2014!