I was at a basement club in New York's Chinatown on a recent Saturday night when I finally figured it out. After working for half an hour to calm down some esoteric techno dancing, the DJ, who appeared to be in her late 20s or early 30s, abruptly changed the mood and recalled Miley Cyrus and Mike WiLL Made -It's. swaggering (and controversial) “23”. The crowd noticeably revived. She followed up with Ke$ha's “Blow,” though it was an even brighter, more celebratory remix of the song, and spotted a deep Nicki Minaj sample from her. Pink print days. “Oh my God, I forgot these songs existed!” I shouted to my friend. That’s when I realized that 2014 was really here again.
Since the first months of confinement, culture has predicted a return to the mainstream in 2014. The articles have been written, TikTok trends were explained, style guides were published, but for the most part, the nostalgic hype felt like a budding fad that was largely contained online — until now. I'm not sure when the change happened – maybe it was when the clock finally pushed us to 2024, which officially makes it 10 years since that painful year – but 2014 is finally spilling onto the streets and on the dance floor. Our first clue should have been when pop culture's canary in the coal mine, Kylie Jenner, recently returned to her King Kylie days with a head of bubblegum pink hair. Now I'm dancing to that era again in the hip clubs of New York.
And for that reason, we at NYLON decided to create the ultimate playlist of 2014. If you need a refresher, the year 2014 we're referring to when we talk about this era is a loose amalgamation of culture where everyone (read: millennials) was reposting “artistic” black and white photos on Tumblr, sporting “soft grunge” and finding ourselves through some of the most depressing and uplifting music to ever be released. It was during this era that the dark and horny anthems of Lana Del Rey, the waif-pop of Sky Ferreira and the rebellious belts of Lorde reigned supreme. On the other side of the spectrum, the bright, misfit indie pop of Vampire Weekend, Passion Pit and Arctic Monkeys also topped the charts. Drake was in his brooding but triumphant days (although he still is) and SZA had just released her debut album. Z. All the coolest alternative villains were listening to up and coming artists like Kelela, FKA twigs, and Blood Orange.
NYLON's playlist spans that spectrum and, in our opinion, is the most comprehensive musical overview of this era, no matter what subculture or brooding clique you belong to. Take your hair dye and press it below.