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Song of the Year: “High By The Beach”

Lana Del Rey hypnotizes her listeners again with “High By The Beach”

Choosing a single song for “Song of the Year” was the toughest category to do. So many songs this year were great. It seemed impossible to cut it down to one song. But after a lot of back and forth, I decided that Lana Del Rey’s song, “High By The Beach” is worthy of that trophy.
I’ve devoted most of the other categories to the most proper female pop artists. Lana Del Rey can’t necessarily be labeled a pop starlet by any means. But “High By The Beach” is possibly as mainstream pop as we will get from her. So after juggling a few songs, I chose the song from the one we most likely won’t see very often on any “pop songs” lists.

Promotional shot for Lana Del Rey’s “High By The Beach”
“High By The Beach” opens with a haunting melody that immediately changes the environment of your mindset. And when the light-trap beats are introduced in the chorus it catches you off guard and permanently commits you to the remainder of the song. Many songs are effortless and follow you as you continue living your life. But this song grabs your attention and transports you to the scene that it’s living in; controlling you. It’s rare that a song can do that. It’s familiar territory for Lana Del Rey, considering it’s kind of “her thing.” So that’s one reason that this song excels in a place other pop songs fail.
The music video for “High By The Beach” was equally tantalizing and captivating. The video is not obvious of its purpose when it begins. It follows Lana Del Rey through a beach house as she seems to be avoiding something. It ends up being a paparazzi taking pictures from a helicopter. This gave the video a scene with a wind effect that surely had Beyonce dialing every contact, in jealousy, to try and recreate later. And then with a fantasy finale, she grabs a huge sci-fi gun to shoot down the helicopter.

Another promotional shot for Lana Del Rey’s “High By The Beach”
The song has the right amount of pretentiousness while still being a win for the girls of pop music. Lana Del Rey continues to mesmerize the music industry with her unique music and vocals. For that, I picked “High By The Beach” for The Pop Pyro’s “Song of the Year.”

The Pop Pyro’s pick for “Song of the Year”

Other Top-Picked Songs This Year:

More Top-Picked songs from The Pop Pyro

In No Order:

  • Demi Lovato – “Cool For The Summer” Easily this summer’s anthem. Demi killed it.
  • Zedd ft. Selena Gomez – “I Want You To Know” Selena had a great second half of the year, but she had one of Spring’s best tracks.
  • JoJo – “Save My Soul” The only ballad on top of the list, and rightfully so. JoJo is one of the best balladeers of the girls in pop music.
  • Marina and the Diamonds – “Blue” The pre-chorus to this song, “give me love; give me dreams…” is the best of the year.
  • Rihanna – “Bitch Better Have My Money” If you don’t sing along to this song when it’s played, you’re a robot. Anthem.
  • Selena Gomez – “Good For You” Selena was just doing a lot of great things this year.

Other mention-ables (I can’t Stop):

Madonna“Joan of Arc” and “Ghosttown”
Tamar Braxton“Angels & Demons” and “KING”
Hilary Duff“Confetti” and “Sparks”
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Music Video of the Year: “Sparks”

When fans demand that a music video get its proper treatment, that must mean something.

I ran this by a few friends before posting and their unanimous reactions were, “Is this an April Fool’s joke?”
It’s not, and I’m completely serious, but hear me out… To me, a music video’s first job is to create the visual counterpart to a song. With that said, just like a musical playlist or album, I want my music VIDEOS to easily blend in succession of each other. Have you ever made a playlist of music videos and when a 6-minute video plays it completely breaks the mood and you’ve had to get up and fast forward the video three minutes to reach the performance segment of the videos. Yeah, I’m not entirely excited to live like that, okay? What I love about Hilary Duff’s “Sparks” video is that you can play it in between “Toxic” and “Womanizer” and all three videos smoothly play together.

Cover photo for Hilary Duff’s single “Sparks”
My favorite thing about “Sparks” is that it is a visually appetizing video from start to finish. This video is a complete sugar-induced stomach ache of candy colors and visual geometrics. Hilary Duff looks the best she’s ever looked in a music video. Her video is completely pointless leaving out any need to follow a “story” or some kind of difficult imagery to take away from the song itself. It’s the direct companion piece for the music that adds the visual (delightfully over-) stimulation to the greatness that is “Sparks.”

One of the amazing, and simple, monochromatic retro shots from Hilary Duff’s music video for “Sparks”
Another fascinating thing about this video, and probably the first thought my friends had when they asked if this was a joke, is that this video was actually immediately panned by everyone. Fans complained and expressed their hatred of its original cut that included scenes of Hilary Duff going on Tinder dates. I hated it too. So fans DEMANDED the Tinder scenes be removed to reveal the full-potential and perfection that lied behind those terrible pedestrian clips of her at the bowling alley. To me, if her performance shots were just as bland as the tinder clips, the video would never had fans rallying for the tinder-less version. It has to take a lot of humility in admitting that the fans, for once, have a song’s best interest at heart. Removing the Tinder clips to reveal a truly passively/effortlessly-overstimulating (can that be a thing?) music video proves that they really don’t need all the overly ambitious “distractions” that weighs them down. Thank you for listening to the fans, Hilary Duff!!!

Close-up shot of Hilary Duff in her music video for “Sparks”
Just like any other huge Hilary Duff fan, I loved her beachy and chill singles (“Chasing the Sun” and “All About You”) from 2014 that had her singing scaled-back tunes. But Hilary is a bonafide pop superstar, and veteran at this point. Fans have confidence that she can produce pop-perfect singles. Fast forward to this year and she reemerges with an exciting dance pop song, “Sparks.” The song is amazing! And when she posted a wig-snatching and colorful 10-second clip of the (tinder-less) video on her Facebook leading up to its premiere, fans (and myself) were expecting greatness when the song premiered. We’ve gotta follow our first-gut feeling and for “Sparks” (even though it was clouded with criticism upon release) it was that this video is absolutely amazing, stunning and fun in all aspects. The video is GREAT; Perfect in my opinion.
For it being fantastically aimless and ambitiously colorful and sparkly, I picked Hilary Duff’s “Sparks” as The Pop Pyro’s “Music Video of the Year.”

The Pop Pyro’s pick for “Music Video of the Year”

Other Top-Picked Music Videos This Year:

Four more of The Pop Pyro’s picks for videos of the year.

In No Order:

  • Demi Lovato’s “Cool For the Summer” This is Demi’s best video, period. Probably the only contender to replace “Sparks” as my favorite video this year.
  • Ariana Grande’s “Focus” She really worked that high-kick and lavender hair. When she released this video it was one of the more exciting nights this year.
  • MARINA AND THE DIAMONDS“Froot” This song is unique in itself and the noir-style it’s filmed in created a fantasy for me that I really appreciated while watching. And can we all just applaud all of her glamour-shots?
  • Madonna’s“Ghosttown” This is probably the best cinematic-style music video out this year. It helps that this song is one of the most underrated songs of the year. Madonna’s video is exceptional.