40. “Ghost” – Ella Henderson
Soulful pop with extraordinary lyricism and evocative folk song lyrics.
39. “Smile” – Avril Lavigne
Guileless pop punk hedonism, from the queen of that.
38. “Only Girl (In the World)” – Rihanna
Rihanna’s darker impulses bubble under the surface, but this is a happy return to more traditionally cheery song making.
37. “Shake It Out” – Florence + The Machine
Art rock anthem for the restart of a life, a desperate self-exorcism before dawn.
36. “Disparate Youth” – Santigold
Generational call to arms delivered in a flurry of musical styles.
35. “Princess of China” – Coldplay featuring Rihanna
Rihanna’s wailing is an undeniable force, and the rest of the song is alternative synthpop perfection.
34. “I Wanna Get Better” – Bleachers
Best “inspirational” song I’ve heard in years. All about taking an arms-open-in-a-convertible approach to living.
33. “I Dreamed a Dream” – Anne Hathaway
Okay, this part of the Les Mis phenomenon I get. Powerfully emotional song of loss and hopelessness.
32. “Ready or Not” – Britt Nicole featuring Lecrae
Electrifying hooks, EDM stuttering, and a positively assertive attitude make this song a joy.
31. “Dance Apocalyptic” – Janelle Monáe
Galvanizing piece of creative destruction just before the zombies get here.