The year is only half over — but it’s never too early to start rounding up the strongest tracks of 2014
Halfway through 2014, there’s already an embarrassment of riches in the realm of music — from blockbuster pop singles to epic indie ballads, ace songs from artists both new and established have provided the year with an exceptional soundtrack.
Here, TIME contributors Lily Rothman, Nolan Feeney, Megan Gibson, Jamieson Cox, Melissa Locker and Sam Lansky pick the 25 best songs of the year — so far.
Ariana Grande, “Problem”
A delirious, skronking sax loop and an assist from rising Australian MC Iggy Azalea helped make this single, the first from Grande’s upcoming second full-length, a prime candidate for the esteemed title of Song of the Summer. Guest features and gassy brass aside, her vocals are the key: sweet, soaring, and unabashedly exuberant. -Jamieson Cox