After several years of choosing increasingly obnoxious and divisive no.1s, there was nothing that could trump Timber, Pound The Alarm and Swagger Jagger in the “is she actually trolling us?” (no, they really were my favourites) stakes this year. I was tempted to go with Shake It Off, as it does feel like the song of the year, considering how well it was received by everyone from casual chart pop consumers to uber-analytical music journalists. However, there was another song that grabbed me and stuck with me in a different way, which I think deserves the spotlight today even more. For the first time in many years, my no.1 is not an upbeat, sassy or celebratory party song, perfectly constructed to make us all dance and smile. It’s clever and powerful in an entirely different way.
Taylor Swift – Out of the Woods
Released: 14th October (USA)
Writers: Taylor Swift, Jack Antonoff
Best bits: 1. Remember when you hit the brakes too soon? Twenty stitches in the hospital room
2. Are we in the clear yet? In the clear yet? Good!
3. But the monsters turned out to be just trees, when the sun came up, you were lookin’ at may-ay-ay
It’s debatable whether Out of the Woods is actually a single at all, as it doesn’t have a video and hasn’t “gone to radio,” but according to my rules it is eligible, because it charted somewhere in the world (nine countries, to be precise). I hope it will get its chance to fully shine in 2015. It fulfilled its purpose in creating a huge buzz for 1989 and tipping us off that the album had much more to offer than Shake It Off suggested, but Out of the Woods deserves to be more than bait. It deserves a video, an awards show performance, blanket radio play and a few weeks at no.1… at the very least!
Out of the Woods isn’t one of 1989’s Ryan Tedder co-writes, but you could have been mistaken, thanks to its highly repetitive chorus (typical of a Tedder tune). The chorus is itself misleading – there’s so little to it, that on first listen you might think of Out of the Woods as a simple song. But it’s the verses that make it special, intricately constructed and filled with little details (lyrical and musical) that reveal themselves over time. And as you get caught up in the story of the song, the chorus transforms from repetitive to anthemic. The emotion behind it becomes clear, and even though the song is conveying something much more complex than the average top 40 hit, you feel like you know exactly what Taylor was going through.
So, the countdown of my top 25 is complete! Let me know what you think of my choices in the comments box below, or tweet me @Poptastic. If you’re wondering which singles just missed out, or would like to hear all these songs (and 75 more) in order of excellence, look out for my full top 100 being revealed this afternoon.