RAY RAHMAN (EDITORIAL ASSISTANT)
Japandroids, “Younger Us”: The whole Japandroids album is stuffed with explosive guitar anthems, but this is the rare song that can make me feel nostalgic, excited, irrelevant, invincible, old, and young all at once — and make me like it.
Frank Ocean, “Forrest Gump”: Channel Orange in general has been on repeat all year, and this track doubly so. That’s right: this song’s been running on my mind, boy.
Cloud Nothings, “No Future/No Past”: Sometimes a breakup song needs to be angry and spittle-y, not sad and sappy. Like this time.
Nicki Minaj, “Beez in the Trap”: She really is so cold. Beware of anyone ratchet enough to s— on not just some of your life, but the whole thing.
Sleigh Bells, “Comeback Kid”: Melissa’s review of Reign of Terror pretty much nailed it; it’s like a dreamy cheerleader chewing on a gob of metallic bubblegum, and she saved an extra stick just for you.
Ke$ha, “Die Young”: Because I have ears.
Kanye West, Jay-Z, and Big Sean, “Clique”: Big Sean sounds like he’s having a bouncy blast, Jay reiterates his untouchable flow for those who might’ve forgotten, and Kanye somehow balances blaring braggadocio with a tender confession of his own suicidal tendencies. All without losing a beat.
Ellie Goulding, “Anything Could Happen”: It took me a while to get into it, but now I can’t stop. There’s something Robyn-y about it to me, which is always a plus.
GRADY SMITH (EDITORIAL ASSISTANT)
One Direction, “Up All Night”: There’s no song I played more while on the treadmill this year.
Taylor Swift, “All Too Well”: Markovitz knows my tastes all too well! [See Adam's picks above.]
Imagine Dragons, “It’s Time”: I fell for the plucky mandolin in The Perks of Being a Wallflower trailer (and because I loved the stompy live version), but stayed because Night Visions was a nifty pop-rock fusion.
Mumford & Sons, “Hopeless Wanderer”: Maybe I’m a product of millennial aimlessness, or maybe I just really love driving drumbeats, but Mumford is their rockiest — and most engaging — on this track from Babel.
Florida Georgia Line, “Cruise”: This was the most irresistible country hook of the year.
Haley Reinhart, “Hit the Ground Runnin'”: Because I wanted this to be her single so, so bad.
The Avett Brothers, “February Seven”: I know this prob won’t make the list, because it’s a random track off this album, but I just love it. “There’s no fortune at the end of the road that has no end” is one of my fave lyrics of the year!
Nicole Westbrook, “It’s Thanksgiving”: Yep, I love it. Legitimately. I even know the entire rap.
Neon Trees, “Everybody Talks”: Cool shimmery rock song that was actually a pop song. Hence, I loved it!
Phillip Phillips, “Home”: The Americana movement went mainstream (yay!), and American Idol got a big credibility boost (yay!).
Kip Moore, “Where You Are Tonight”: The country star that I think should have won Best New Artist at the CMAs (yet wasn’t even nominated) released a great album in the Spiring. This Springsteeny slow-burner deserves a national audience.
Flo Rida ft. Sia, “Wild Ones”: I can’t help it! I love an upbeat Flo Rida jam. Plus, this introduced to the strange, belty goose-lady that is Sia.
TIM STACK (SENIOR WRITER)
I listened to/watched the video to “Call Me Maybe” potentially 100 times, mostly because I was obsessed with Ashley Tisdale’s lip-synching and cheerleader dance moves.
I also can’t stop watching/listening to the Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta duet because the raw chemistry and natural aging occurring between them is just so charming.
CLARK COLLIS (SENIOR WRITER)
This year I spent a disturbingly large amount of time listening to Jack White ask love to murder his own mother on “Love Interruption” from Blunderbuss. And I spent an equally worrying duration listening to Drive By Truckers frontman Patterson Hood ask how a lover could leave him “after the damage I’ve done” on “After the Damage” from his excellent solo album Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance. In summation: Who has the number of a good therapist?
John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John exceed your wildest expectations with Christmas music video
Jack White slams Lady Gaga in Esquire UK: ‘All image with no meaning’ — UPDATE: White clarifies his comments in a formal statement
Beyonce prepping new music for Super Bowl, says The-Dream