10. Dan Croll – “From Nowhere” (Baarsden Remix) (2013)
A leftover from last year’s GTA V soundtrack, this song is perfect for those times where you want to slow things down and chill a bit. With relaxing and echoey verses coming together with a bouncy drop in the middle, it takes a tone that’s pretty unusual in dance music, but welcome all the same.
9. The Naked and Famous – “Young Blood” (2010)
When those synths start up there’s an immense level of impending drama I feel, and I love it. This is a song about looking back on your younger days and essentially saying to enjoy them while you can, and that things will work out even if they don’t seem like it, and it’s a message that really rings true I find. Couple that with the amazing melody that is deliberate and slow then this song is made to be savoured and enjoyed.
8. Clean Bandit – “Rather Be” (feat. Jess Glynne)
Probably the hit of the year chart-wise, “Rather Be” really set out Clean Bandit’s stall as one of the freshest and most exciting acts of 2014 with the magnificent voice of Jess Glynne adding to it beautifully. It’s got a universal appeal that not many pop songs can do nowadays, with the soul and classical elements combined with the powerful and sing-along chorus to give everyone something they can enjoy. It’s hard not to love it.
7. David Guetta & Showtek feat. Vassy – “Bad”
While I’d question David Guetta’s influence on what is almost unmistakably entirely a Showtek song, this has probably the best electro house drop of any song this year – crashing through the ground with the big room style that you’d expect. The catchy high-pitched vocals of Vassy just add to the suspense as you wait for the action, and make it an absolute masterpiece of high-octane dance music.
6. CHVRCHES – “Tether” (2013)
There’s no other song I know that’s as much a tale of two halves as “Tether”, with its slow and quiet verses and its’ simple chanting chorus giving way to an absolutely incredible explosion of synths. The emotion and melody of the first half, a song about feeling attached to something that has run its course, are amplified massively in the second half as the same mantra of “I’m feeling capable of / seeing the end” feels far more like a final and emphatic epiphany when drowned out by the screeching and soaring going on behind it – giving a massive release. Always great to listen to, it’s perhaps CHVRCHES’ most well-crafted song.
5. Oliver Heldens – “Gecko (Overdrive)”
Great as an original demo track, but even better with the vocals over it, this tune is a great fusion of the different parts of dance music at the fore today. The way the chorus layers itself a bit off-centre with the industrial beat in the background adds a bit of character and emotion to the song that other poppy dance songs rarely manage so well.
4. Wankelmut & Emma Louise – “My Head is a Jungle” (MK Remix)
To enjoy this song to the fullest, it’s got to be the full 8 minute plus version that you go for. Building from the slow pounding bass and evolving throughout into the dance spectacular that it is always manages to impress, as it shows its different styles, different feelings and different beats the whole way through. Emma Louise’s slow and ethereal vocals make the song’s heart shine through even with the great drum and piano beats going on around it. It’s as close to an opera of dance music as you’ll ever find.
3. Sub Focus – “Tidal Wave” (feat. Alpines) (2012)
An absolute tour de force of a song, “Tidal Wave” is packed full of emotion and feeling whilst being able to give something that’s danceable and even some drum and bass too. Alpines’ singer Catherine Pockson provides beautiful vocals for this jilted love song, which towers over the straining synths and beats that sound as though they’re tearing each other apart. The first drop is pure sadness but the second adds the energy, with the same emotion layered over some tempered drum and bass giving the song another dimension and taking it to another level.
2. Say Lou Lou – “Julian” (The Chainsmokers Remix) (2013)
A song that is absolutely perfect for all occasions, “Julian” is my favourite dance song of the year. It’s simple the whole way through, with the delicate vocals being accompanied by a melody that just makes everything seem happier. The drop to the song is golden too, being easy enough to listen to when you want something that bit quieter and loud enough to have at a party as well. It’s got both a delightful light summery feel to it and a winter warmer vibe as well. There are not many songs that cover so many bases and still end up sounding so good, but “Julian” manages to do it with style.
1. CHVRCHES – “The Mother We Share” (2013)
A masterpiece from start to finish, it’s been my song of the year from day one and one of my favourites of all-time. From the very start, with the echoing vocals of Lauren Mayberry being cut with the dreamy synth to them fading out again it’s pop heaven. Mayberry’s beautiful voice over the uplifting melody just works so well, and when it all goes quiet in the middle it just serves to make things even more satisfying when it all comes back.
With lyrics that are pretty dark as well, it’s even more testament to the song that it manages to sugar-coat them so well and to make it seem so happy. It’s an absolutely faultless song and that’s why it’s my favourite song of 2014.
So there is my top 40 for the year! Here’s a Spotify playlist featuring as many of the songs as possible, with the honourable mentions as well:
Feel free to suggest songs that I’ve missed or where you would rank the ones from my list in the comments below.