Diandra’s 2014 in Music
Music Go Music is a group whose music I enjoy without shame, no matter how cheesy their lyrics get. They’re a throwback to the ABBA era, and while I might not be into all of their new work because of my hate for most ‘80’s sounds, some of the ‘70’s/’80’s blend is…tolerable, like in Inferno [clip]. Nite After Nite  is a gentle entry to their sound. From there, I suggest these tracks I have on constant repeat: Tell Me How It Feels , Tuff Turf , the unabashed Shine Down Forever , and dramatic Part of Me .
I’ve continued to watch Ylvis after finding out that there was more to their comedy besides The Fox , and they opened this year of I kveld med Ylvis with a hilarious parody of autotuned country and instructional videos with Trucker’s Hitch [MV]. Their humor doesn’t always land–see the discussions over the Turkey-set Balkan Beat Box-reworking Mr. Toot. Yet watch the one-take video for the nonsensical Yoghurt:
— a delightful fit for the song (which was followed by another dairy-themed, Stargate-produced tune: Intolerant ).
Returning to Norwegian comedy, I include Kollektivet in a year-end music post once again  because of musical-themed sketches like The New Saxophone , in which they parody Stargate and the ubiquitous musical influence of Pitbull. As for actual songs, they made many an earworm but the most enduring is Skulle bara fisa , a Swedish song about wanting to fart (but having poop in your fart). You don’t have to understand Norwegian to see how they make fun of hipsters in Grøtete Vokal (Gratuitous Vocals) , but it’s great to find out that the lyrics to one of their “songs” is actually a recipe for waffles.
If you want new spins on Serious Classical Music, progressive jazz group The Bad Plus released their version of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, which happened to be the only album I managed to buy in 2014. It can be odd, but it rewards extended listening in certain passages. While they posted Sacrificial Dance on YouTube, I think you’d get a better idea of the project by listening to this earlier live recording:
Dutch group I Compani took opera down a ‘20’s/‘30’s jazz (and sometimes tango) route with Verdi 2.00. I wish I could hear more of the album online than from the few clips and album previews. You’ve never heard Dies Irae like this.
Another favorite from 2013, Blitz the Ambassador, released a full-length album in 2014, and the track that stood out to me was All Around the World feat. Marcelo D2 [Bandcamp].
I have to thank Amy  for reminding me about Calle 13’s new album! Cuando Los Pies Besan El Piso [YouTube] is my favorite track because of how it mixes traditional rhythms and electronic elements with funny yet strangely uplifting lyrics. I want to drum along to it all the time. Now on their own label, Residente and Vistante have put forth some some strong anthems, even though I might not agree with everything in El Aguante [MV] and MultiViral [MV], though the latter’s video gained some power by filming on location in Palestinian territory.
More furious in her sound and politics is Ana Tijoux, who collaborated with rapper Shadia Mansour and other Palestinians for the track and video Somos Sur.
Tijoux states that Somos Sur is about the importance of resistance, not only in Chile, but around the world.  Tijoux’s other songs might get airplay on mainstream channels via ESPN, Breaking Bad, and Broad City; but her focus remains radical, as displayed in Antipatriarca . Vengo is also the first album in which she used live backing instruments and voices instead of samples, including indigenous male chanting in Rio Abajo .
Slate article on the song in English here.
Shiina Ringo is one of my all-time favorites, and she released two albums in 2014. From her “self-covers” Re-Import (逆輸入 ～港湾局～) album, I blasted out loud her big band version of Shuen no Onna (主演の女) [Xiami], a song she wrote for Puffy AmiYumi (original version here). Then from Hi Izuru Tokoro (日出処) , I enjoyed how she belts out on Arikitari na Onna [MV], which contrasts the song above in sound and title meaning.
I end this, just like in 2013, with Cristobal Tapia de Veer’s distinctive electronic score for the sadly concluded Channel 4 drama Utopia. The second series began with Bambino Criminale , and tracks like Life Out of Balance  and Bambino Illuminatus  show how de Veer expands upon the musical themes he set during the first series with new sound palette tools like jack’n’-the-boxes and organs. Everything builds up to To You All Kids Will Come (Metamorphosis Complete). Before slowly transitioning to a final variant on the theme tune, the first five minutes and thirty seconds of this track is a masterwork of moody undertones and ethereal choir.