Here’s my list of favorite songs from this past year. I’ve restricted this list to new songs from 2014 and just songs that I used often this year at parties. None of my personal favorites (like Hozier’s “Take Me To Church” or anything off the Prince releases) made the list.
This was a great year for new music, especially because, after a number of years where most of the new dance music was in the 120-130 beats per minute range (what I would call traditional dance music tempo) this year the biggest dance floor fillers came from all over the BPM map. While that makes mixing more challenging, it also makes programming more fun. And dancers feel it. Just like running on a flat surface mile after mile can get tedious, dancing to a similar beat can get monotonous. But with new songs that ranged from the low 100s to over 180 beats per minute, dancers and party-goers were able to change up their dance moves often. And we (the DJs) were able to get more creative with our mixes.
So here we go. In no particular order, let’s celebrate the year that was in new music:
“Happy” by Pharrell Williams – For me the year began with this song and it has stayed in my playlist throughout. It’s got all the traits of a song that will be with us for a long time: up-tempo with an infectious rhythm, positive lyrics and Pharrell’s awesome singing.
“Turn Down For What” – DJ Snake featuring Lil Jon – My first event of 2014 was a holiday party with a lot of 20 year olds. They asked me for this song and it made the dance floor erupt. Since then, it’s been a staple for me. I played it at almost every event in 2014. It’s a low beat song (100 BPMs) but it packs more energy with those amazing crescendos and wall-shaking drops than anything else that came out in 2014.
“Talk Dirty to Me” Jason Derulo – I have to admit the first time I got a request for this I thought they were talking about the Poison song (I am a product of the 80s.) But this song quickly became a regular for me and it worked almost every time I dropped it in.
“All of Me” by John Legend – Simply one of the most beautiful love songs I have ever heard. I feel like this one is going to be a staple for many years to come and probably a popular first dance too. It’s a timeless classic.
“This Is How We Roll” – Florida Georgia Line f. Luke Bryan – I love songs that don’t fit into a specific genre. This is a great sing-along song that’s part country and part hip-hop. I played this one often this year and always got a good reaction.
“Let It Go” by Idina Menzel – Ok, I don’t have kids so I’m not as sick of this song as many parents are. But I have an indelible memory from this past year that helps this song make my list. I was DJing a wedding with our plasma package and there were a number of kids there. So I played this song (with the video on the screens) during salad. The children came out to the dance floor and watched the video and sang along at the top of their lungs and danced around too. It was an awesome moment and one I won’t ever forget. (plus, I feel bad for Idina Menzel that John Travolta mispronounced her name at the Oscars so I had to get this one on my list).
“Stay With Me” – Sam Smith – This is a beautiful ballad with a soaring chorus that almost feels like a church hymn. And that voice! Wow.
“Shake It Off” Taylor Swift – Swift’s new album is called 1989 and she certainly channels that uptempo 80s sound in this song. Whatever dance moves you had for the Toni Basil song “Mickey” will work perfectly for this song. I know some DJs try to avoid this because it’s a bit cheesy but when I see the smiles it puts on people’s faces I say “Haters gonna hate hate hate.”
“Beachin’” – Jake Owen – Being so close to the shore we do our share of beach events and so we’re always looking for a song that fits that theme. When this came out I knew right away it would work. This song is an ode to white sand, tan lines and sipping Coronas. If that doesn’t make you smile, check your pulse.
“All About That Bass” Meghan Trainor – The first time I heard this song I knew it was going to be a big hit and I’d be using it at parties. It’s a fun song with an even funnier video. And any song that empowers women to celebrate their curves is okay with me.
“Fancy” Iggy Azalea featuring Charlie XCX – Who would have guessed that a white rapper from Australia would have one of the biggest hip-hop songs of the year? But that’s the kind of year 2014 was. Hits came from anywhere and everywhere. This one filled my dance floor all year with a chorus that everyone wanted to sing along to.
“Uptown Funk” – Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars – This is a late comer to the list since I only started playing it in December. I think it’ll stick around though and could be one of the biggest songs of 2015. Being a Prince fan, I think they have captured the essence of funk in this song. And like “All About That Bass,” it’s got one of the best videos of the year too.