Each year we all read hundreds of end-of-year lists, but how well do they hold up in retrospect? Five years ago, we published 11 Great Things From 2014: Much has changed in the latter half of the decade – including the death of excellent steaming service Rdio – so what became of our choices?
Note: This article is completely spoiler-free.
Elbow – The Take Off and Landing of Everything
2014: “A hark back to the Elbow of old…wonderfully understated but intensively emotive”
After the unexpected commercial success of ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’, and more disjointed and morbid follow-up ‘Build A Rocket Boys!’, Elbow returned with their most complete album in years. Quietly uplifting, it’s now largely forgotten amongst the hits: only ‘Fly Boy Blue / Lunette’ and ‘My Sad Captains’ regularly make the live sets these days – the latter of which is still regarded as amongst their best work. Now back with their eighth studio album, the band are still one of the nation’s most loved indie bands.
Jamie T – Carry on the Grudge
2014: “echoes of the young reckless troublemaker…a more mature, honed sound”
It seems almost surreal to remember just how undercover Jamie T had gone after the rescheduled ‘Kings and Queens” tour in early 2010, and subsequent glorious headlining set on the John Peel Stage at Glastonbury Festival that year. For nearly four years there were no concrete sightings of him – almost unheard of in the Internet age – and many people were worried for his whereabouts. Suddenly in 2014 he returned with low-key single ‘Don’t You Find’, soon followed by this album, which is widely regarded as one of the great musical comebacks in recent memory. 2016’s follow-up ‘Trick’ didn’t quite hit the same heights, but was still proof that some things are worth waiting for.
Clean Bandit – Rather Be ft. Jess Glynne
2014: “Equally at home on wedding dancefloors to those of dirty nightclubs”
Unfortunately this was an all too common story of an excellent song just being completely oversaturated. From nightclubs to kids’ parties to game shows, it was played relentlessly everywhere, which for the band culminated in a desperately poor TV advert which neither Clean Bandit, or indeed Microsoft’s Cortana, ever recovered from.
The Bridge (BBC)
2014: “Beautifully shot, well paced and with two fiercely strong actors”
What a journey viewers of Danish Nordic Noir drama Bron/Broen (The Bridge) went through, which eventually lasted four seasons. Consistently great throughout, The Bridge equalled its peer Forbrydelsen (The Killing) as one of the best of the genre. Sofia Helen’s portrayal of the disjointed and emotionally awkward Saga Norén is one of the greats of the last decade, and created a character that will live long in the memory. A must-watch if you haven’t already.
True Detective (Sky Atlantic)
2014: “on the edge of your seat throughout, purely from the tension, imagery and characterisations”
Unfortunately it transpired that while season one of True Detective remains one of the seminal pieces of television from the decade, it was a trick that couldn’t be repeated, with the follow-up, starring Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams, and Vince Vaughn, failing to ignite audiences in the same way. While a third season garnered better reviews, it wasn’t enough to save the premise, undermining what could have been one of the great one-off dramas.
Scrotal Recall (4OD)
2014: “a surprisingly touching and humourous love story, told in a very distinctive way”
Cancelled by Channel 4 after only six episodes, writer Tom Edge’s terribly titled drama – it’s hard to believe the same person that wrote this emotional rollercoaster actually fought for that name – was given an unlikely resurrection from Netflix, who repackaged and relaunched a second season as a Netflix Original in 2016. Now renamed as the infinitely better ‘Lovesick’, it was wrapped up with a third and final series two years later. With a wonderful ensemble cast lead by Antonia Thomas and Johnny Flynn, it remains one of the platform’s best coming-of-age romantic comedy dramas.
The Lego Movie (IMDB)
2014: “Truly uplifting and entertaining, it’s reminiscent of the early Pixar films in its unbounded spirit”
Still remembered as a classic film, and, as is always the way these days, made such a huge amount of money that we’ve now seen it spawn into a massive franchise. From several sequels, spin-off films, video games, short movies, and the obvious children’s toys tie-in, the behemoth shows no signs of stopping any time soon.
Boom Beach (iOS App Store)
2014: “totally accessible and addictive from the off.”
Still very much alive, but with a dwindling community, Boom Beach tried many tricks over the years to stay addictive, but unfortunately fell victim to its own success. Once people maxed out their bases, there really wasn’t much to do – multiple player modes and monthly ‘Dr T’ special islands added some interest, but a large number of players have moved on. Not that it mattered to parent company Supercell, who at their peak were rumoured to be making over $2.4 million a day for this and their other games including Clash of Clans.
Focus Timer (Mac App Store)
2014: “It will help your productivity no end, particularly during writing or other creative tasks”
While Focus Timer certainly didn’t make any particular strides in the hugely oversaturated mainstream market, it’s still a handy Mac app and readily available in the App Store, although it seems to have been developer Nikita Zubkov’s and company Mojo Bytes’ only output to date.
Tweetbot 3 (iOS App Store)
2014: “a UI that gives you all the tools you need but never gets in your way”
The third version of Tapbot’s Tweetbot was arguably the high point of the app’s history, pioneering Dark Mode as well as many other features that pushed Twitter to its limits. Unfortunately the success of these third-party apps was their own undoing, as Twitter – once a home to friendly, and, largely geeky debate – desperately attempted to monetise through various dark patterns, not least clamping down on their API access for developers. As it stands today, this has stripped apps like Tweetbot of even basic features such as push notifications, streaming timelines, activity and stats, and unbelievably the Apple Watch app. All of which leaves it looking beautiful, but only a supplement to the official Twitter app – no longer a replacement.
2014: “strangely voyeuristic, but extremely gripping”
Serial’s first series was such a huge hit that it spawned not just many replica podcasts, but a whole genre, and relaunched ‘real crime’ into the mainstream. Serial itself though failed to find that perfect story again, with the long-awaited second season’s tale of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl falling flat with listeners. Season Three went even more left-field with a series of shorter depictions of the American criminal-justice system, during which most listeners simply switched off.