There may not have been a new sound that dominated 2014, but there were certainly plenty of new twists on the familiar. Here's a look at the year's best songs:
1. BEYONCÉ FEATURING NICKI MINAJ, 'FLAWLESS (REMIX)' (Columbia): In the frenzy to quote Beyoncé's first statement about ElevatorGate, the fact that this was a great song mostly got lost. While so many "reputable" journalistic outlets busied themselves with (completely wrong) proclamations about the imminent collapse of the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Carter, Bey simply smiled knowingly, Instagrammed some well-chosen happy family photos and built this impressive remix with Nicki Minaj. They woke up like this! They woke up like this!
2. MIRANDA LAMBERT, 'BATHROOM SINK' (RCA Nashville): In a year filled with esteem anthems, Lambert offers the one that sounds most honest and rocks hardest.
3. MARY J. BLIGE, 'THERAPY' (Capitol): With help from Sam Smith, Blige upends a gospel spiritual to create a soulful ode to the healing powers of therapy that will immediately have you singing along.
4. FUTURE ISLANDS, 'SEASONS (WAITING ON YOU)' (4AD): Singer Samuel T. Herring's performance on "Letterman" wouldn't have gone viral if the song wasn't so majestic, if the idea of Herring's Elton John-esque croon over swooshing synth pop didn't play out oh-so-perfectly.
5. KATE TEMPEST, 'THE BEIGENESS' (Big Dada): The British rapper/poet packs so much story, so much insight into her rhymes that it takes multiple listenings to unpack it all, especially when you keep falling into the deep, deep groove.
6. D'ANGELO AND THE VANGUARD, 'THE CHARADE' (RCA): The sweet harmonies and the sunny funk mask the cold, hard reality that D throws down in a simple couplet about American race relations: "All we wanted was a chance to talk, 'stead we only got outlined in chalk."
7. MEGHAN TRAINOR, 'ALL ABOUT THAT BASS' (Epic): Every inch of this is perfect, from the bottom to the top.
8. TAYLOR SWIFT, 'BLANK SPACE' (Big Machine): Tay twists her pal Lorde's "Royals" vibe and the persona the tabloids have crafted for her to create a fun showcase for her sense of humor and her ability to build an indestructible chorus.
9. SBTRKT FEAT. EZRA KOENIG, 'NEW DORP, NEW YORK' (XL): Brazen EDM that stretches the boundaries of musical storytelling and political imagery while maintaining a great dance groove and making Vampire Weekend's Koenig sound even more charming than usual.
10. TAKING BACK SUNDAY, 'STOOD A CHANCE' (Hopeless): Three minutes or so of jump-around-and-scream, guitar-driven fun and a passing worry about being "fat and happy, straight to hell."
HONORABLE MENTION: Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars, "Uptown Funk" (RCA); Lykke Li, "Love Me Like I'm Not Made of Stone" (Atlantic); Mariah Carey feat. Wale, "You Don't Know What to Do" (Interscope); Spoon, "They Want My Soul" (Loma Vista/Republic); La Roux, "Kiss and Not Tell" (Interscope); Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne, "Rather Be" (Atlantic); RAC feat. Matthew Koma, "Cheap Sunglasses" (Interscope); Cloud Nothings, "I'm Not a Part of Me" (Carpark); Tinashe feat. Schoolboy Q, "2 On" (RCA); Gerard Way, "Action Cat" (Reprise)