2014 has been a huge year for music and like many of you we’ve spent the past twelve months sifting through the hottest album releases, starting with Beyonce’s mega-album and culminating with the other wordly music bomb D’Angelo just dropped on the world after 15-years in hibernation.
iTunes saw declining revenues for the second year in the row, but the music industry and its superstars were as strong as ever, blasting out new albums that challenged convention. There were also a host of newcomers that shocked us with their maturity and sound as they tried to knock established artists from the top spots. Want to know our favorite songs and albums of 2014? Take a look below to find out:
The 2014 music year was absolutely dominated by female artists. Beyonce launched a sneak attack with her monstrous pop album BEYONCÉ that was pretty much all I could listen to until Annie Clark dropped her stunning self-titled album ‘St. Vincent‘. Iggy azalea ruled the summer with “Fancy” whether we liked it or not. And then Taylor Swift showed everyone why she’s the new queen of pop by going full 1980’s on her fifth album 1989 that’s still not done breaking records.
The War on Drugs third album, ‘Lost in the Dream‘, was the best indie album of 2014, offering rich guitar riffs, emotional lyrics, and hypnotic electronics. Canadian rockers Alvvays established themselves as one of the year’s hottest newcomer with their self-titled album that sounds like a happier version of Beach House, but with more gorgeous melodies and layers of catchy guitar. Dan Smith made us fall deeper in love with the dance floor by putting out ‘Our Love‘ under his stage name Caribou. The all girl-quartet Warpaint delighted by blasting us with spooky postpunk sounds on their self-titled EP, and Future Islands didn’t disappoint with their beautiful fourth album, ‘Singles‘.
Sam Smith is the front runner for most of this year’s top awards thanks to his album ‘In the Lonely Hour.’ The praise is well deserved, but there were a few other male solo artists that really stood out this year, like Todd Terje’s disco-fused release of ‘It’s Album Time‘ which was one of the funnest discs to dance to in 2014. Mac DeMarco’s ‘Salad Days‘ was also among this year’s best releases with its breezy mellow tunes, and Jack White and Beck both reminded us they’re still rocking with ‘Lazaretto‘ and ‘Morning Phase.’ Then D’Angelo came out of his decade-long self imposed exile to drop the most ambitious sounding album of the decade in ‘Black Messiah‘.
Frozen came out nearly a year ago, but I still can’t get ‘Let it Go‘ out of my head, and judging by how many moms are still uploading videos of toddlers singing along to it, most of the world can’t either. Pharrel Williams had the year’s other huge kid pop song with ‘Happy‘ from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack, and Canadian indie-pop twins Tegan and Sara proved ‘Everything is Awesome‘ with their song for the LEGO movie.
No one in the world of hip hop had a better year than Dr. Dre, who just became rap’s first billionaire, but there were a number of young artist that proved hip-hop still has a bright future. Run the Jewels released arguably the best rap album of 2014 with their gritty and dark ‘Run the Jewels 2‘ LP. J. Cole shocked us with his surprise ‘2014 Forest Hills Drive’ album in December that proves he’s pretty much Nas 2.0 by rapping over 13 tracks without featuring single guest artist to help carry the lyrical load.
Big names like Kanye, Jay Z and Drake went absent this year, but Rick Ross showed why he’s still a boss with his album ‘Mastermind.’ YG revisted gangster rap with his album, ‘My Crazy Life‘, while Schoolboy Q solidified his presence with the stellar release of Oxymoron.
Rock & Roll
Rock isn’t dead, it’s just been hibernating. Royal Blood revisited rock history by recording their self-titled debut LP in single takes without samples or overdubs to bring rock back to its roots.
Recorded in single takes without samples or overdubs, “Royal Blood” revels in rock history rather than trying to ignite a revolution. Spoon’s ‘They Want My Soul‘ and Foo Fighter’s ‘Sonic Highways‘ were two of our favorite rock albums of 2014, proving some bands still get better with age, and Mastodon went ‘Once More ‘Round the Sun‘ in 2014 to keep the flame of heavy metal shining bright.
Ive never cared to watch Leno or Letterman, but Jimmy Fallon got me into the Tonight Show in 2014 by proving he’s a musical genius. The EW music video. The lip sync battles. The Will Ferrel vs Red Hot Chili Peppers drum off. All of it was brilliant and hilarious. Jimmy Fallon killed it on the music scene this year and it didn’t hurt that The Roots are his freestyling backup band, and Justin Timberlake just happens to be his BFF.