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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Top 50 Singles of 2014: 5-1

5. 5 Seconds Of Summer - She Looks So Perfect

Quite simply, it's the perfect pop song. It also happens to be the highest ranked English-language track on the countdown. Of all the singles that were successful in the West this year, this bombastic, fizzy anthem was the one I kept going back to. That chorus is one-in-a-million. Bottled lightning.

4. Josef Johansson - Blickar Kan Mörda

I wish that more people were familiar with this song. Through his work this year, Josef Johansson has become the Swedish artist I'm most anticipating. The song itself reminds me of something Darin would put out, yet it's got a quirky edge that compliments the surging, addictive production and hook.

3. Akdong Musician - 200%

There are so many ideas and surprises hidden in this bubbly mix of pop, folk and hip-hop. It's like pulling open a nesting doll. Some tracks settle for one or two strong hooks. In 200%, every strum of the guitar and vocal adlib are hooky, which makes the song a little hard to click on first listen. But, it's also what makes it the pop song that keeps giving the more you listen to it.

2. B1A4 - Lonely 

Its soaring melody and icy hip-hop beat might seem fairly simple at first, but it's the little turns in leader Jinyoung's songwriting that make this midtempo ballad stand out. The accented high notes in the chorus, the key change at the end, the way the rap winds through the song so seemlessly, the hints of trumpet buried in the mix, and the final, repeated refrain of the title. It's utterly affecting, and much more emotional than you'd expect it to be as it steadily builds to its explosive climax. Honestly, it's probably the best ballad I've heard in years, without really being a ballad at all. I had it placed at the top spot several times.

1. Infinite - Back 

The best pop songs have a standout moment. The absolute best have more than one. Back is like one perfect moment right after the other. That first, dramatic beat drop after the climbing balladry that opens the track -- the aggressive dance breakdown after the first chorus, cut by distorted guitar -- the seemingly disparate orchestral suite underpinning not only the middle eight but the entire song. Somehow, it manages to sound exactly like K-Pop yet nothing like K-Pop at the same time. Infinite has always been known for their powerful vocals, but you can feel the energy and desperation dripping from every note in Back. The track itself is an ambitious gamble with song structure that pays off to almost jaw-dropping effect. It's just ballsy... the kind of thing mainstream groups rarely attempt. In fact, the song is so good that it made me go back and reconsider everything else the guys have done, and put Infinite at the very top of my K-Pop obsession.

Don't forget, if you'd like to listen to the Top 50 Singles Countdown in full, download the audio version!

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