Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX
This is definitely something for the club kids. Over a banging hip-hop beat, the fearless raptress drops slick rhymes extolling the good life with no shortage of attitude. Though the hook is a slight slice of pop confection, it's catchiness is precisely the point of its radio-ready appeal. [B]
This celebrated singer-songwriter, who has penned hit tunes for the likes of Christina Aguilera, soars on this powerhouse ballad spiked with yearning and regret. It's a spirited performance that does justice to a beautifully written song. [B+]
"Stay With Me"
It isn't difficult to understand why this simplistically gorgeous tune has spawned so many cover version — some more successful than others. (Ahem, Romain Virgo.) The British crooner, just announced as MTV's Best Artist of 2014, imbues the song's hauntingly poetic lyrics with such sincerity and heart-tugging emotion one might just cave in and take him up on his earnest request. [A-]
"Shake It Off"
Grammy voters sure love them some T-Swift. A decidedly electro-infused kiss-off to the haters and detractors, this lead-off track (from her latest album, 1989) packs enough bubblegum pop and danceability to satisfy her diehard fan-base (read: the tween-girl set). The rest of us, however, are holding out for something stronger. [B]
"All About That Bass"
On this insistently funky dance-floor jam, the plus-sized songstress declares, "I'm bringing booty back" before launching into lyrics that celebrate body image and self-esteem — and having a good ole time. It's an infectious romp, to be sure, powered by Trainor's assured delivery and a cheeky pop-gloss appeal. [B+]
"Take Me To Church"
Here's a song that provokes, enlightens and stays with you — a haunting, defiant anthem centred on humanity and daring to be different. The Irish troubadour's smooth vocals and effortless musicality impress, as he drives home the tune's sobering message. [A]