There was a creeping feeling among music writers that 2014 was an iffy year for big-deal albums. Yearly specifics aside, arguments asking whether albums are still important at all in the face of Internet disruption continue to rage, with both sides making understandable points. But nobody in their right mind is arguing that songs, the single, sharable unit of music, have suddenly lost their sway.
Lists pretending to objectively capture an entire year in music are increasingly laughable, though. There’s so much music released to the Internet every second that no one can claim exhaustive knowledge of it all. Our attempts to impose order on this sprawl keep getting weirder, more random and further-flung. That’s pretty fun, actually!Here are 40 songs that meant something in 2014. A Spotify playlist (containing all these songs they actually carry) can be listened to here, and each individual song is embedded below.