The Best Singles of 2014, #8

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8. Tove Lo, “Habits (Stay High)”

There were so many great singles about self-loathing in 2014 – perhaps an indication of how big a downer much of the past year was – and Tove Lo’s single “Habits (Stay High)” was not only one of the better ones, but turned out to be a massive worldwide hit, the highest-charting Swedish single in the US since Ace of Base in 1994. Go figure, but at least it’s good to see the fickle American mainstream embrace some good Scandinavian music for once. And this is a terrific song, Tove Nilsson delving into the ugly side of a break-up, one involving binge-eating and substance abuse: “I get home, I got the munchies, binge on all my Twinkies / Throw up in the tub and I go to sleep / And I drank up all my money, tastin’ kind of lonely.” It’s an unappealing side to reveal in a pop song, but that’s probably why it connected to people so well. She wallows, and her phrasing and the emotion she injects into the song – melodramatic but never over the top – is palpable as the song climaxes: “Stayin’ in my play pretend where the fun ain’t got no end / Can’t go home alone again, need someone to numb the pain.”

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