I was in a basement club in New York City’s Chinatown on a recent Saturday night when it finally hit me. After milling about for half-an-hour to cool if a little esoteric techno dance cuts, the DJ, who looked to be in her late 20s or early 30s, abruptly switched the mood and cued up Miley Cyrus’ and Mike WiLL Made-It’s swaggering (and controversial) “23.” The crowd tangibly resuscitated. She followed it up with Ke$ha’s “Blow,” albeit an even more shiny, party-fied remix of the song, and cued up a Nicki Minaj deepcut from her Pinkprint days. “Oh my God I forgot these songs existed!” I screamed to my friend. That’s when it dawned on me: 2014 is actually, really back.
Since the earliest months of lockdown, the culture has been predicting 2014 return to the mainstream. The articles were written, TikTok trends explained, style guides posted, but for the most part the nostalgic hype felt like a wanna-be fad that was largely contained online — until now. I’m not sure when the shift exactly happened — maybe it was when the clock finally pushed us into 2024, making it officially 10 years since that harrowed year — but 2014 is finally spilling into the streets, and onto the dancefloor. Our first clue should’ve been when pop culture’s canary in the coal mine, Kylie Jenner, recently re-embraced her King Kylie era with a head of bubblegum pink hair. Now, I’m dancing to that era again in NYC’s fashion-adjacent clubs.
And because of that, we at NYLON decided to put together the ultimate 2014 throwback playlist. If you’re in need of a refresher, the 2014 we’re referring to when we talk about this era is a loose amalgamation of the culture when everyone (read: millennials) was reblogging black and white “artsy” photos on Tumblr, wearing “soft grunge,” and finding ourselves through some of the most depressing, exhilarating, music that’s been released. This was when the dark, horny anthems of Lana Del Rey, the waif-pop of Sky Ferreira, and the rebellious belts of Lorde reigned supreme. On the otherside of the spectrum, bright, misfit indie-pop from Vampire Weekend, Passion Pit, and Arctic Monkeys, were also topping the charts. Drake was in his moody but triumphant era (though, he always is), and SZA had just released first album Z. All of the coolest alt baddies were listening to burgeoning artists like Kelela, FKA twigs, and Blood Orange.
NYLON’s playlist covers this entire spectum and, we feel, serves as the most comprehensive musical overview of that time no matter what brooding subculture or clique you fell into. Grab your hair dye and tap in, below.