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I'm Not The Only One
CRAIG JENKINS: Nicki’s Pinkprint smash “Anaconda” is deadly clever, a feminist judo flip of one of rap’s most beloved sexual objectification anthems that achieves its goals without even jettisoning the twerking. But the source material is too singular, and “Anaconda’s” use of it, too rote, to take the victory. Point Sam Smith for “I’m Not the Only One” and its grim but stately epiphany about a lover’s infidelity. My Vote: "I’m Not the Only One”
CAITLIN WHITE: Though we've all spent our fair share of time lounging in Sam Smith's In The Lonely Hour and wondering how those we've given everything to could betray us, 2014 was the Year Of The Anaconda. Nicki Minaj's fanged, venomous weird pop rework of Sir Mix-A-Lot's culture-defining ass-worship track body-rolled its way to the center of the conversation. Nicki may have her own moments of heartbreak (See "Pills N Potions," "Bed Of Lies") but "Anaconda" is a song that celebrates female sexuality and boy toys over the monotony of monogamy. Sam? Take notes. My Vote: “Anaconda”
JASON LIPSHUTZ: It’s easy to describe Sam Smith as the male Adele, but aside from their compatible native countries, blue-eyed soul stylings and alarmingly pale skin, the two singers differ in their respective full-length consistency — Adele has two near-immaculate albums, while Smith’s In The Lonely Hour is a rockier songwriting affair. “I’m Not The Only One” features a typically searing vocal take from Smith but a plodding pace, whereas Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” is salacious and electric, especially when Onika goes double-time on the pre-chorus. My Vote: “Anaconda”
JEREMY D. LARSON: Sampling "Baby Got Back" is like sampling "The Chicken Dance,” insofar as both songs are just as likely to be featured in a Vine of your uncle getting handsy at a wedding. ”Anaconda" is a lazy premise by this metric, and almost every other metric: There's no hook to speak of, there’s no drop, it's not as weird as "Come on a Cone,” it's not as fun as "Boss Ass Bitch.” But in the ring with the limp schmaltz of "I'm Not The Only One,” the song is sprung. There's better writing in any given episode of One Life to Live than what Sam Smith blindly wrote down here, and this is the only song that could make "Anaconda" seem like a good pop song for 2014 — that includes "The Chicken Dance.” My Vote: "Anaconda"
HARLEY BROWN: Nicki wins for a few reasons: 1) she samples "Baby Got Back," which evokes sixth grade rec room dances (and nostalgia never goes out of style), and 2) media consumers still value the primacy of the visual (as opposed to the sonic, and the video for "Anaconda" owns the one for "I'm Not the Only One”) It's dulce de leche/carrot cake/Brooklyn blackout, and "Only One" is straight vanilla. My Vote: "Anaconda"
OVERALL WINNER: “Anaconda”