Welcome back everyone! Tonight the countdown continues with songs 20-11 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! Every song counts now, so without further ado, let’s pick up where we left off with song #20!
#20: Habits (Stay High) by Tove Lo
Peak: #3 2014 Weeks on Chart: 29 Points: 2125
With Avicii clocking in at #21, this makes two Swedish artists in a row on the countdown. Tove Lo (pronounced “too-vuh loo” I’m told) had one of the biggest sleeper hits of the year with “Habits,” an eerie blend of indie and pop which found its way on the radio despite its rather overtly hedonistic lyrics. Helping the cause was an even weirder remix by Hippie Sabotage which distorted her vocals into Chipmunk territory, and found its way into a variety of sports-themed Vines throughout the year. “Habits” still sits inside the Top 20 at the time of publication, and Tove Lo just scored her second Top 40 single as a featured artists on Alesso’s “Heroes (We Could Be).”
#19: Latch by Disclosure f/Sam Smith
Peak: #7 2014 Weeks on Chart: 33 Points: 2195
Functioning both as the biggest sleeper hit of the year and as the weirdest Top 10 single in recent memory, Disclosure’s breakthrough hit certainly followed no conventions. A thumping club track in 6/8 time, “Latch” features Sam Smith’s hypnotic vocals, and a beat which immediately brings to mind images of a dark and sweaty club. Released back in 2012, it finally debuted in March at #100 and fell off the chart, before re-entering a few weeks later at #100. This began a long march up the chart, culminating in its long-awaited entry into the Top 10 over the summer. Another interesting bit of trivia regarding the young duo: their song “When A Fire Starts To Burn” was named the 5th best track of 2013 by Rolling Stone magazine.
#18: Team by Lorde
Peak: #6 2014 Weeks on Chart: 26 Points: 2233
You wouldn’t be faulted for making the instant assumption that Lorde would become a one-hit wonder after “Royals” came out of nowhere to be one of 2013’s biggest hits. But the New Zealand teenager went right back to work, releasing “Team” while “Royals” still ruled the chart. It caught on just as fast, flying into the Top 10 right before 2014 began. It reached its peak of #6 in January, and stuck around through the end of June, giving her two consecutive singles with 40+ weeks on the Hot 100. In fact, “Team” ended up higher on this countdown than “Royals” did last year, assuring that she will never be regarded as a one-trick pony.
#17: Problem by Ariana Grande f/Iggy Azalea
Peak: #2 2014 Weeks on Chart: 25 Points: 2238
A historically good formula for Hot 100 success is to take two current pop stars and have them work together. From there, release their collaboration at the beginning of the summer and watch the sparks fly. Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea worked those instructions to perfection with “Problem,” one of 2014’s most infectious pop smashes. Featuring a maddeningly catchy saxophone hook and all the Big Sean whispering your ears can handle, “Problem” exploded onto the Hot 100 in May at #3 (the second-highest debut of the year). It got stuck in the runner-up position behind Iggy’s own “Fancy” for nearly two months, but that didn’t stop “Problem” from carving out its own slice of 2014 memorability.
#16: Best Day Of My Life by American Authors
Peak: #11 2014 Weeks on Chart: 31 Points: 2295
The highest-ranked song on this countdown to not have reached the Top 10, “Best Day Of My Life” continued a recent trend of indie-pop crossovers representing some of the biggest Hot 100 hits. As the first (and still only) chart visit for American Authors, this upbeat track sounded like a re-working of Imagine Dragons’ “It’s Time” (right down to the finger-picking intro), but listeners regarded it even more favorably, bringing it right to the doorstep of the Top 10 this winter. No word yet on whether they’ll turn into one-hit wonders, but the rest of their debut album feels more stooped in indie and folk, so their priorities seem to lie outside Hot 100 success.
#15: Timber by Pitbull f/Ke$ha
Peak: #1 (for 3 weeks) 2014 Weeks on Chart: 29 Points: 2403
Love him or hate him, Pitbull is the master of crafting irresistible pop hits by featuring the biggest artists and rapping over some darn catchy beats. Released in between albums, “Timber” was a standalone single featuring Ke$ha, who hadn’t had a real hit single since 2012’s “Die Young.” From the very first time I heard that harmonica intro, I knew that Mr. 305 had a major hit on his hands, and “Timber” quickly shot up the charts. It became Pitbull’s second (and Ke$ha’s third) #1 single in January, and then stuck around into July to put it right up there with “Give Me Everything” and “Tik Tok” as their most notable hits to date.
#14: Let It Go by Idina Menzel
Peak: #5 2014 Weeks on Chart: 30 Points: 2439
It’s been quite a long time since an Oscar-winning song has performed exceedingly well on the Hot 100. In fact, prior to Idina Menzel’s unexpected chart triumph “Let It Go,” the last Oscar winner to become a Top 5 single was Eminem’s #1 hit “Lose Yourself” in 2002. An empowering balladic anthem which actually fundamentally changed the screenplay of Frozen, “Let It Go” became one of the year’s most frequent sing-alongs (to either the joy or chagrin of most people). The Frozen soundtrack became one of the most successful of all-time, selling more copies than any other album of any kind in 2014 and spawning no fewer than five songs which found their way onto the Hot 100 this year.
#13: Loyal by Chris Brown f/Lil Wayne & Tyga
Peak: #9 2014 Weeks on Chart: 36 Points: 2446
I’m a bit ashamed to admit that one of my biggest guilty pleasures of 2014 was “Loyal,” Chris Brown’s first Top 10 single since 2012’s “Don’t Wake Me Up” and his 13th overall. Utilizing one of the catchiest beats of the year, “Loyal” spawned the lyrical hook which would enter its way into the colloquium of culture much like Drake’s coining of “yolo” in “The Motto.” Helped by not one but two official alternate versions which swapped Tyga out for either French Montana or Too $hort, there were many ways this year for listeners to enjoy “Loyal,” and that helped to make it the longest-lasting single of his career. Hard to believe that Chris Brown is still only 25 years old, considering that he has been a huge pop star since “Run It!” in 2005.
#12: Chandelier by Sia
Peak: #8 2014 Weeks on Chart: 32 Points: 2494
As I mentioned on the blurb about “Latch,” 2014 was a year which allowed many quirky singles to find massive mainstream success. Add Sia’s “Chandelier” to that list, the first time the Australian singer entered the Hot 100 as lead artist. Although her vocals featured prominently on “Wild Ones” and “Titanium,” “Chandelier” allowed us to see the full scope of her artistry. Featuring the year’s creepiest (yet oddly hypnotic) music video, “Chandelier” started subtly before building into a pulse-pounding chorus which soared above nearly anything else on pop radio. Billboard named it the best song of 2014, and I’d be hard-pressed to find any argument against this powerhouse track.
#11: Am I Wrong by Nico & Vinz
Peak: #4 2014 Weeks on Chart: 31 Points: 2564
Hailing from Norway, duo Nico & Vinz continued the Scandinavian successes on the Hot 100 this year. Securing the country’s first Top 10 hit since A-ha’s anthemic “Take On Me” 30 years earlier, “Am I Wrong” blended pop sensibilities with a distinctly African flair, with the same fusion and feel as Paul Simon’s 1986 album Graceland. I don’t have access to radio data, but I’d bet my money that “Am I Wrong” was the most-played song on the airwaves this summer, as I heard it often on a variety of stations. Unlike most songs that get over-played though, I never lost my love of this infectious track, probably because it sounded fundamentally unique and separated from nearly every other song on the radio this year.
Well, we’re almost there! Tomorrow will be the last installation in the 101 Biggest Hits of 2014! It has been a blast writing these daily articles, and I am extremely appreciative for all the loyal readers who have made this countdown a great experience. I’ll see you here tomorrow for the unveiling of songs 10 through 1!