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Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014 In Pop Culture - Music

This is the continuation of a seven part series that will be ongoing for the rest of the week.  It is going to be a continuation of a feature I like to call "2014 IN POP CULTURE".

All this week, I will be going over picks and pans for the year gone by, and I will be covering a different subject each day until the second of January.

Yesterday, we took a look at the best and worst of movies and film over the past year.  We looked at what films topped the box office, what films won awards, and what films missed the mark.  If you missed that entry, you can always click HERE, or scroll down to the December 27, 2014 entry to read it.

Today's subject for discussion?  We're going to be talking about music!

Yes, 2014 was definitely a year of headline making news in the music industry.  We had a girl switch genres of music to bring in even more fans, we had an entertainer release his first album in thirteen years, and we had a well established rock group release their final album.

And there's quite a lot more to discuss as well, so let us get started.

We will begin with the songs that hit the #1 spot on the Billboard Charts this year.  There was a total of ten singles altogether that became a #1 single in 2014, and each one certainly made an impression on people.  Just looking at the list of songs that topped the charts this year, I can definitely say that I have at least four of them downloaded onto my iPod.  Want to try and guess which ones they are?  Send me a message!

Here are the ten songs that topped the charts in 2014.

The Monster - EMINEM featuring RIHANNA
Timber - PITBULL featuring KESHA
Dark Horse - KATY PERRY featuring JUICY J
Fancy - IGGY AZALEA featuring CHARLI XCX
Rude - MAGIC!
All About That Bass - MEGHAN TRAINOR
Blank Space - TAYLOR SWIFT

I won't talk about all of these songs, but I will make minor footnotes about a few of them...just because I find the info interesting.

Certainly, 2014 was a banner year for Taylor Swift, as was 1989.  After all, 1989 was the year that Swift was born, and it also happens to be the title of her newest album.  It also marks a huge departure for Swift in a way, as this was her first album recorded entirely in the pop genre.  Sure, some country fans cried teardrops on their guitars when Taylor decided to go pop, but other people really liked the singer's new material.  In some ways, it was almost like a rebirth for the singer, whose love life prior to "1989" seemed to be focused on more than her music.  It is unknown whether Taylor will return to her country roots at this time, but given how successful "1989" has been, I can see her sticking with pop for the foreseeable future.

Another singer who has taken the world by storm has been Meghan Trainor.  She may only be 21 years of age, but already, she has had a huge hit with "All About That Bass", a song that encourages full figured women to be proud of their curves and booty.  I will be the first to admit that the song is catchy, upbeat, and certainly provides a better message than a certain song by Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea.

Yeah, the less said about that one, the better.

Of the #1 hits listed up above, I have to say that the song "Rude" by MAGIC! is easily my favourite of the bunch.  I always have been a fan of slow jams with a bit of a reggae beat, and this band from Toronto certainly delivered the goods.  Their debut single made the Top 10 in at least ten different countries, and you can still hear this single being played on radio quite often.  Here's hoping that the group shines even brighter in 2015.  They are definitely a group to watch.

And, of course, we cannot ignore Pharrell Williams.  2014 was a great year for him.  Not only did he do collaborations with Daft Punk (Get Lucky) and Kylie Minogue (I Was Gonna Cancel), but his song "Happy" was the longest charting #1 song of 2014, staying on top for ten weeks total.  The song was originally released as part of the "Despicable Me 2" soundtrack in 2013, but found staying power in 2014.  And, while I will readily admit that the song is quite overplayed, at least I can say with great certainty that I like "Happy" a heck of a lot better than his follow-up single "Come Get It Bae".

(Yeah, I will have more to say about THAT in tomorrow's entry...)

Okay, so now that we have talked about #1 hits from 2014, let us see who won the most coveted awards in music in 2014, shall we?

The 56th Annual Grammy Awards were held in late January 2014, and celebrated the best in music over the 2013 calendar year (you will have to wait until February 8 for the 57th Annual Grammy Awards).  While it would take too long to type out all of the award winners, I will post a few down below.  Did your favourites make the list?

ALBUM OF THE YEAR:  Random Access Memories - DAFT PUNK

Just a couple of notes to list before we go on...

Daft Punk were clearly the big winners of the night.  They took home a whopping FOUR Grammy Awards for their album and the song "Get Lucky".  And to think that my very first experience with them was back in high school when radio stations would play "Around The World" all the time.  Funny how time flies, huh?

I suppose one might consider this to be an upset, but newcomer Kacey Musgraves won "Best Country Album", and "Best Country Song" for "Merry Go 'Round".  People she beat out for the award?  Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton, and Tim McGraw!  Congratulations, Kacey!

And, while the jury is mixed on whether Macklemore & Ryan Lewis should have won the award for Best Rap Album, one thing you cannot deny is that they had one of the best performances at the Grammy Awards themselves.  Their performance of "Same Love" was done in front of a group of couples of all shapes, sizes, and orientations exchanging wedding vows at the same time.  It was wonderful, touching, and even had a cameo appearance by Madonna!  While the Grammy Awards are still considered to be a pale shadow of what they used to be like, I will say that they are getting better.

I just wonder who will be the big winners for this year's ceremony?  Nominees include Iggy Azalea, Sia, Sam Smith, Taylor Swift, Meghan Trainor, Ed Sheeran, Pharrell Williams, Ryan Adams, Beck, U2, Beyonce, Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert, and Eric Church among others.  Good luck to all nominees!

Now for some other miscellaneous pieces of information regarding music in general for 2014.

If you had told me five years ago that Tony Bennett would release an album with Lady Gaga, I would never have believed you.  But on September 23, their collaboration "Cheek To Cheek" was released.  And you know what?  It worked beautifully!  The two make a fantastic team, and it definitely shows in their music!  Have a listen up above!  Isn't it great?

Prior to November 11, 2014, Garth Brooks was rather silent on the music front.  His latest album prior to November 11, 2014 was an album called "Scarecrow" - released in November 2001!  So, what did Garth Brooks do in that thirteen year hiatus?  Well, he got divorced from his first wife in December 2001, married country singer Trisha Yearwood in 2005, and did quite a lot of charity work in between.  It is hard to say when the music bug bit him again - maybe it had to do with the performances that he did in Las Vegas as the 2010s began, or maybe it had to do with the televised concert performance that he did to coincide with a gift box set of all of his albums that was released in 2013.  Whatever the case, his first album in thirteen years, "Man Against Machine" was released on November 11, 2014, and he has another album slated for release in 2015.  Love him or not, Brooks is back.

But while Garth Brooks returned to the spotlight, British rock group "Pink Floyd" announced that their fifteenth studio album - "The Endless River" - would be their last.  Released on November 10, 2014, the album became a huge seller right from the starting gate.  Amazon UK reported that the album became their most pre-ordered album of all time!  I can definitely vouch that the store I work at has a really hard time keeping it in stock!

I remember once upon a time when U2 was as popular as Pink Floyd.  "Achtung Baby" remains the first album that I ever bought with my own money, and I have almost the whole "The Joshua Tree" album downloaded onto my iPod.  But in the case of "The Joshua Tree", I paid for the album myself.  Their latest album "Songs of Innocence" was already downloaded onto my iTunes account for free one day.  In fact, the whole album was downloaded onto EVERYONE'S iTunes accounts!  Of course, this move caused people to react with anger more than happiness (though for the record, I did download a couple of the new songs and liked them), and some questioned whether iTunes was really secure if a band from Ireland could leave a whole album in everyone's iTunes account without anyone consenting.  In the end, Bono, the lead singer of U2 admitted that they made a mistake.  It'll be interesting to see if anyone actually bought any physical copies of "Songs of Innocence" though.

For fans of Fleetwood Mac, they were given a great gift.  Longtime member of the band Christine McVie rejoined Fleetwood Mac in March 2014 after departing the group in 1998.  Since then, the band has continued touring.  Good on them!

In May 2014, nearly five years after Michael Jackson's death at age 50, a new album of songs was released under the title "Xscape".  The kick off track, "Love Never Felt So Good" featured Justin Timberlake, and became a Top 10 hit in mid-2014!

And congratulations to Nirvana, Kiss, Peter Gabriel, Linda Ronstadt, and Cat Stevens (or is it Yusuf Islam?) for being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for 2014.  

And continued well wishes go out to Ronstadt, who is currently battling Parkinson's Disease which has left her unable to sing.  Stay strong, Linda! 

And that wraps up 2014 in music.  Stay tuned for next time when we review the fads, games, and toys that people got into during this past year!

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