By: Scott Harvey, Columnist
With the likes of Jason Derulo and Pitbull dominating the airwaves during the summer, it may have seemed like a hopeless few months for pop music. This, however, is anything but true. There were a plethora of great songs this year that didn’t get the kind of attention they deserved from pop radio. Here are 7 of the best:
1. Ryn Weaver – OctaHate. Not just the best song of the summer, but maybe the best song you will hear all year, OctaHate comes courtesy of Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos, pop diva Charli XCX, and up and coming producer Cashmere Cat. Let’s not forget newcomer Weaver, who sinks her teeth into the track’s spare percussion, resembling many of the songs of Lorde, and rousing chorus. It’s hard to imagine why this wasn’t a smash hit.
2. Maddie and Tae – Girl in a Country Song. The country song that finally says what I have been waiting years for a country song to say, Maddie and Tae’s snarky single is a dead-on critique of the rampant sexism present in the songs of “bro country” artists like Luke Bryan, and a flat-out great country song in and of itself.
3. The Wind and the Wave – With Your Two Hands. Blending elements of folk, rock, country, and blues, The Wind and the Wave’s debut album “From the Wreckage” is one of the most underappreciated records of the year. Its centerpiece is the rollicking “With Your Two Hands,” a foot-stomping anthem with some Mumford-esque guitar picking and spot-on harmonies from principal members Patricia Lynn and Dwight Baker.
4. Echosmith – Come Together. Their debut single “Cool Kids” flew up the charts, but Echosmith’s best song is the bouncy “Come Together,” which explodes out of the gate with its peppy synths and towering chorus. The song’s best asset is the breathy vocals of lead singer Sydney Sierota who sounds like the second coming of Hayley Williams with her infectious energy.
5. In the Valley Below – Peaches. “Peaches,” the lead single from California duo, In the Valley Below, sounds like Fleetwood Mac discovering the synthesizer. Its classic harmonies and folky sound give way to a hooky chorus that makes this one of the most enjoyable earworms of the summer.
6. Lana Del Rey – West Coast. By now, Lana Del Rey is a familiar figure among followers of pop music, but her sophomore album “Ultraviolence” came and went with a whimper with “West Coast” the only single to chart, albeit for only 2 weeks. It is a shame because Del Rey sounds as mesmerizing as ever. On “West Coast,” her instantly recognizable voice meshes exquisitely with the sort of kicky, desert rock sound that made up much of the Arctic Monkey’s 2013 smash “AM” (Indeed, “Ultraviolence” was produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys).
7. Chromeo – Jealous (I Ain’t With It). Maybe the world just was not ready for the return of disco. That is the only reason I can think of as to why Chromeo’s “Jealous” was not tearing up the charts. Had its figure-snapping hook and falsetto vocals come from, say, Justin Timberlake, it would have been a bonafide hit. You do not know what you are missing if you don’t listen to this one.