RIFF REWIND 2014: Sia, Hozier, Lindsey Stirling and Lil B


Meet Hozier. That’s “Ho-zee-ehr” to you. Probably. Photo: Abby Williamson.

You know how they say time goes faster and blurs together as you get older? Apparently, they’re right, because that was absolutely the case here.

There are a few songs from this list that I could’ve sworn came out last year, but actually came out four years ago. I can tell you exactly what grade I was in when ’90s songs came out, but you put “Uptown Funk” in front of me and I’m like, “I dunno, a year and a half ago?”

Spoiler alert, by the way.

Anyway, here are five songs that came out in 2014 and not 2016 or 2017. Trust me, I checked.

Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars — “Uptown Funk”

Sorry for spoiling this one earlier.

I have no idea why more artists don’t record ’70s funk songs anymore. I realize it’s not easy to do well but look how much people loved “Uptown Funk!” It made Bruno Mars a star even though it’s not even his song.

That’s right, it’s not a Bruno Mars song. That bland-looking white guy inexplicably in the background of half the shots of the video? That’s Mark Ronson, and it’s his song. Really. I double-checked. I don’t get it either but props to him; it’s a great song.

Lindsey Stirling — “Roundtable Rival”

Noted idiot Piers Morgan once said to Lindsey Stirling, “You’re not untalented, but you’re not good enough to get away with flying through the air and trying to play the violin at the same time.”

In a lifetime of saying incorrect things, that may be the least correct. She’s at least that talented. For example, she successfully pulled off an instrumental violin rock song with a bass drop, and somehow made an Old-West-themed video for it work. That’s more impressive than anything Piers Morgan has done in his entire life except, arguably, continuing to stay relevant.

Sia — “Chandelier”

Let’s face it: Sia is pretty weird. Her videos are weird, her performances are weird, the whole character is just… weird. She’s got the wigs, she shows up on Survivor finales all the time; it’s all pretty unconventional.

Fortunately, she’s an artist, and for artists, weird and talented tend to go together. And she’s extremely talented.

Hozier — “Take Me to Church”

One of the strangest side effects of American Idol and its ilk is that it’s bred an entire genre of songs that seem designed to be audition songs on singing competition shows. “Take Me To Church” is an excellent example. It’s a good song, but a significant chunk of its enduring popularity is that it’s simple enough to chop down to a 40-second audition while being complex enough to show range.

I wonder, do musicians and producers have that in mind? I’m sure labels do. It’s a guaranteed sales spike once a year when someone performs it on The Voice or whatever. But do the artists, themselves? Or is it a niche you have to be lucky enough to fall into, like stock movie trailer song?

[Gokhman note: The following may seem like a dumb statement, but it’s redeemed by the final sentence]. Also, how does one pronounce Hozier’s name? Is it hoser, like the Canadian insult? Ho-zee-er? Ho-zee-ay, with the French flair? I actually spent time researching it and even he doesn’t seem to know, he pronounces his own name differently in various interviews.

Lil B — “No Black Person Is Ugly”

That’s right, I put Lil B on the top five instead of Run the Jewels.

There are two reasons for this: First, I don’t know if it’s the most powerful song of the decade like the video title insists, but it’s an uncharacteristically heartfelt song from an artist whose style is usually more winkingly ironic. People focus so much on Lil B’s persona and social media presence that they miss how genuinely talented he is. It’s a really good track with a really good message from a really good musician.

Second, and perhaps most importantly, I don’t want to risk getting cursed by the Based God. I don’t even try to play basketball, but if he can keep James Harden from winning a championship maybe he can keep me from winning a Pulitzer. Best to just play it safe.


Honorable Mentions

St. Vincent — “Prince Johnny”
Meghan Trainor — “All About That Bass”
Run the Jewels — “Close Your Eyes”
Nicki Minaj — “Anaconda”
Charli XCX — “Boom Clap”

Follow editor Daniel J. Willis at Twitter.com/BayAreaData

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