23 Dec 2014, 9:59pm

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My favorite 50(ish) songs of 2014

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If you came here looking for a list that looks like something from KEXP or NPR’s All Songs Considered, you may have come to the wrong place.  This list is devoid of some of their standards, like: St. Vincent, Alt-J, Beck, The New Pornographers and Aphex Twin.  I own a couple of these artist’s 2014 releases on vinyl I like them so much.  So why not include them?  The way I pick 50 is weird and needs to be tuned.  It’s not perfect, but the results are interesting enough to share.

Mid-way through the year, I switched from Rdio to Spotify because a few of my friends convinced me that more people would share good much with me through Spotify and that no-one of importance was using Rdio.  This wasn’t a huge mistake, but I did change some behavior because of it.  I’ve been a member of Google Play Music All Access since they launched, but haven’t been convinced that it’s the right platform.  That is, before they integrated YouTube.  Now I’m convinced.  I will be using Google Play Music for 2015’s work and saying good-bye to Spotify (finally).

As I mentioned, the way I select these songs for the list is to load up my play queue with new releases of bands I know, have heard of, are rated highly by blogs and sites I frequent, or have interesting band-names/album art/titles/etc every Tuesday.  Then I listen to these complete albums and any songs that pop for me for some reason get a second listen and a push to my list of 2014 highlights.  At the end of the year, I’m left with a rather dirty list of songs that I heard in 2014, but may not have actually been released in 2014.  Over the holiday break, I’ll spend hours listening to each song again and adding them to a new playlist that I created to store my 50(ish) picks for the year.  That list ends up being about 1/3 of the original playlist.  The next step is to pare down a bit so I don’t have to look up the release date of over 100 songs.  Then I make sure all songs we released sometime in the last half of the last quarter of 2013 or sometime in 2014.  Then I start to stack rank the songs in order to drop enough to get to 50.  There inevitably comes a point where I cannot drop any additional songs, so it will never be exactly 50.  I also consider two songs from the same artist and album as counting towards one in the list.  The results are then shared on Spotify, copied to YouTube videos (also curated) and then to Google Play Music All Access playlists.

So these rules are totally arbitrary, but it’s fun and easy for me to follow.  Feedback is welcome.  I’m also happy to explain some of my choices.  If enough people care for me to rate the top 10, I’d be happy to spend some more time doing that as well.

Thus, without further ado, here are my choices for the best 50(ish) songs from 2014: