Here Are the 25 Best Songs of 2014 (So Far)

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TIME

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

Sam Smith, “Stay With Me”

It sounds simple: take the silky smooth vocals of a British crooner, add one slow-burning love song, mix in a backing…

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