1. Impulse-Driven Breakup Song: Black Widow (2014) vs. Get Out (Leave) (2004)
The tone of both these songs feels amazingly fresh — as if the breakup-inducing action just happened 30 minutes ago, prompting a rage that is at once lyrically present, yet more importantly, enormously profitable.
JoJo was 14 at the time this song was released, which might explain why it’s not as terrifying as the Iggy Azaela/Rita Ora combo — in which, the two suggest some devious plot to (kill?) a dude who apparently just wants out of what’s obviously a toxic relationship.
Edge: Black Widow
2. Post-Innocence Pop Star: Britney Spears (2004) vs. Taylor Swift (2014)
By 2004, Britney had solidified the transformation from perpetual teenage virgin-like figure to someone who, to quote the Britney-esque pop star from Bojack Horseman, “has sex, and does sexy things with sexy people.”
Taylor’s transformation has been slightly different — she’s more moved from “shy and innocent girl next door” to “person who dates famous people and crushes headlines on E! News,” but both T-Swift and Spears have shared tremendous parallels — both were championed (and got huge) off of an image which radiated a form of purity, are now/were at the stage where they’re going through some mega-star rebranding.
If this amazing article is of any indication, Taylor has managed the transformation of the past few years incredibly well. We’ll see what her soon-to-be-released album does (it’s not really fair to make this judgement just yet, as 1989 won’t be out for another month), but it’ll take quite a lot to outdo Britney Spears; one of the greatest singers of all time, and an angel if there ever was one on this earth.
Edge: Britney Spears*
3. Song Of The Summer: Rude (2014) vs. Turn Me On (2004)
I’m sure there are people who genuinely love the song Rude, but I think for a lot of people it’s gone somewhat like this:
- Hear it on the radio.
- Hear it on the radio 40 million more times.
- Have it stuck in your head 3+ hours of every day.
- Sing the line “Why you gotta be so rude?” whilst getting lunch with a friend.
- Get chastised by your friend, who had just gotten over getting the song out of their head.
Kevin Lyttle doesn’t even need an argument.
Edge: Turn Me On
4. PeakLilJon: Get Low (2004) vs. Turn Down For What (2014)
This is a real toughie. Get Low was the thing that catapulted Lil Jon to the level we enjoy him at today, but Turn Down For What probably is more representative of PeakLilJon — it’s got a great catch phrase, no one really knows what it means, and I don’t think anyone has any idea how it got so popular:
Also, Get Low feels like much more of an actual song, which definitely isn’t a quality necessary to achieve PeakLilJon.
Edge: Turn Down For What
5. Slightly Emo-ish Song Perfect For A Teen Drama: The Reason (2004) vs. Boom Clap (2014)
This isn’t so much a battle of The Reason vs. Boom Clap as it is a battle between The OC and The Fault In Our Stars. Having not experienced the world of John Green, this one is certainly tough to judge. That said, the songs certainly have slightly distinct feels: Boom Clap is wildly optimistic — as if it knows the world is kind of terrible, but despite that, is looking on the bright side and not taking no for an answer — while The Reason seems rooted in the idea that people are flawed, but that’s OK as long as we strive to be better (and sulk in an attractive fashion).
Hoobastank is in the nostalgia sweet-spot right now — it’s old enough for people who used to hate the song to associate it with more positive memories, and therefore, totally adjust their attitude towards Hoobastank. Since Boom Clap hasn’t yet experienced that transformation yet, it’s a bit unfair to base this judgement solely on that aspect.
6. Really Good Singer Who’s Makin’ All The Hits: Sam Smith (2014) vs. Usher (2004)
I didn’t know anything about Sam Smith until earlier this year, but the dude has a voice that reminds you that music is supposed to be a magical, spiritually transcendent medium. Usher had a killer 2004 (he was nominated for 8 Grammys and won 3), but I’ve been writing this whole article while listening to the acoustic version Latch.
Usher definitely deserves this, but for now he’s a one seed who fell valiantly to a Tom Izzo coached squad in the Sweet 16.
Edge: Sam Smith (2014)
7. Fierce, Established Female Pop Star: Arianna Grande (2014) vs. Alicia Keys (2004)
Ariana Grande currently has 2 songs in the Spotify top 5, and appears to be in internet headlines every other day. Granted I never click on them because I’m too busy finding out the heartbreaking thing that happens to this couple after they discover something in their backyard, but it appears that (a. Ariana Grande is having a year, and (b. last year’s time spent at the top of the charts wasn’t a fluke.
2004 Alicia Keys wasn’t quite the constant trending topic that Grande has become (to be fair, this is partly the times), but this was the year where she took her career to the next level. She won a Grammy for I Ain’t Got You — which charted on Billboard as the 3rd most popular song of 2004 — and released the wildly popular My Boo with the aforementioned Usher. Arguably, it was during this time that she truly became Alicia Keys — a name that, if you say aloud, seems to hold a lot more gravitas than Arianna Grande.
Grande is most certainly rising, but the undefinable nature of the Alicia Keys Factor gives her the edge here.
Edge: Alicia Keys (2004)
OVERALL EDGE: Looks like we’ve got a dead heat. That said, Drake wasn’t even mentioned here, and he’s about as big a secret weapon as the legendary Pablo Sanchez.