I love making best of lists every year. It’s not easy work though. I do love catching up on music I’ve missed and discovering new artists while I compose my list. I usually have a lot of trouble narrowing it down to 10 though so this year I’ve decided to do a top 20.
So as to not make this a gigantic post, I’ll run through the back half then concentrate on the to 10.
It was a great year for music, pop music especially, so my list is pretty pop heavy!
Without further Adieu, 20 – 11:
20) Betty Who – Take Me When You Go
The album Katy Perry wishes she could make is one of the best pop albums of the year you’ve probably never heard.
19) Amy Ray – Goodnight Tender
A modern day country classic from one of the most captivating voices in music.
18) William Fitzsimmons – Lions
A wonderful entry in a catalog of great songs.
17) Nicki Minaj – The Pinkprint
An intensely personal and refreshing release from an artist that constantly surprises.
16) Jenny Lewis – The Voyager
Jenny is amazing. I love her. That’s all.
15) Sia – 1000 Forms of Fear
Sia returns with a great collection of pop gems that showcase her truly unique vocal prowess.
14) A Great Big World – Is There Anybody Out There?
Probably the most underrated album of the year. Super fun record full of great tracks. There are plenty of people out there and they should all be listening.
13) Damien Rice – My Favorite Faded Fantasy
He’s back and he’s nailed another great record.
12) Haerts – Haerts
An accidental discovery, a wonderful band you’ll fall for just as quick as I did.
11) Ed Sheeran – X
Ed Sheeran’s second album shows no sign of any sophomore slump. A talented artist with a stellar record. Love this guy.
A note on the top ten. I normally have a rule that I only include full length albums. I made an exception this year though, well two exceptions, as the EPs included are exceptional and definitely represent some of the best songs of the year. With that, here are my top ten albums of 2014! (PS click the album covers if you want to buy them from amazon!)
– 10 –
Ellis Paul – Chasing Beauty
A prime example of exceptional folk music from a man who’s been creating wonderful songs since he started. Chasing Beauty is another example of his indelible talents and might be one of his most accessible albums yet. Gorgeous, emotional, and the perfect entry into the artistry that is Ellis Paul.
– 9 –
FKA twigs – LP 1
Utterly unique and completely original, FKA twigs debut LP is a drug for the ears. This album is pretty much unlike anything else this year and solidifies her as a force to be reckoned with in numerous genres. Keep an eye out.
– 8 –
Jonatha Brooke – My Mother Has 4 Noses
After her mothers passing after battling Cancer and Dementia, Jonatha Brooke turned her experiences into a beautiful one woman show entitled My Mother Has 4 Noses. This is a deeply personal and emotionally rich album that will remain with you days after hearing it. Jonatha’s voice is as strong as ever and her lyrics are beautiful and haunting. This is a masterwork from one of the best singer/songwriters in the game.
– 7 –
Nick Thomas – Shadowars
Probably most known as the lead singer of The Spill Canvas, Nick Thomas has struck out on his own with his crowd-funded solo debut Shadowars. He’s done so with gusto as Shadowars is a great way for him to kick off his solo career. The album features Thomas’ stellar songwriting skills and is sure to satisfy fans of his earlier works with the band, while still being fresh. Nick Thomas has taken the risk of stepping out on his own and this collection of songs prove he’s got the chops to make it. He’s definitely one to watch.
– 6 –
Jay Brannan – Always Then & Now
Jay Brannan for my money is one of the best around right now and he is back with a new album of all new original songs. 12 tracks beginning to end great. A new Jay Brannan album for me is an event. I love his music and this album is another in a catalogue of exceptional work. Amazing, relatable, heartfelt, sharp songwriting with a silky sweet voice, Jay Brannan’s Always Then & Now is folk perfection.
Anthony Starble – We Need To Be Loved
This is the first of two eps on this list. With just a few songs, including the devastating Oh Father, Anthony Starble manages to evoke an emotional connection that most artists can’t do with full length releases. From his incredible voice to his brilliant lyrics, Anthony Starble is a tour-de-force artist that simply cannot be ignored. We Need To Be Loved is four songs of such perfection that you’d think it was crafted by a thirty year industry vet. He’ll get there yet believe me. Buy this EP immediately.
– 4 –
Perfume Genius – Too Bright
A first time discovery and an instant fan. Too Bright is a wonderful gem that I would not have ever heard (probably) if not for making this list. A true talent, with deep songs and a unique sound. It’s great when hearing one album is enough to make one want to get everything that artist has done. Which is exactly what I did.
– 3 –
Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s – Slingshot To Heaven
Another incredible release from one of my absolute favorite bands. This is an album for any time. I can put it on and immediately fall under its spell. It’s a beautiful, playful, and addicting release that has Richard Edwards and Co at their best. Acoustic guitars, Edwards’ amazing voice, and some truly great lyrics easily make this one of the best albums of the year, and one of the bands best.
– 2 –
Troye Sivan – TRXYE
The second EP and final EP on the list comes from YouTube sensation Troye Sivan. This EP was huge. It charted world wide, instantly topped iTunes, and even hit number 5 on the Billboard Top 200. All that aside, it’s a spectacular album and one I have had on constant repeat since it’s release in August (it’s a constant battle between this and the #1 album). Five absolutely perfect songs, including one inspired by The Fault in Our Stars, make TRXYE a stunning major label debut for Sivan. I absolutely love this record. I love every song, I listen to it constantly. Troye is a sure talent with a big future ahead of him and with a massive audience courtesy of his YouTube channel, he’s sure to have much well deserved success.
– 1 –
Taylor Swift – 1989
This should come as absolutely no surprise. I’ve talked about it constantly and if you see me with my iPod going it’s a safe bet to guess I am listening to this album (or TRXYE). Taylor Swift’s first full on pop album is a collection of pure pop bliss from start to finish. It’s impossible to pick a favorite song because it changes every time I hear the album. It’s pure perfection. At times fun and dark, sweet and sharp, 1989 is Taylor Swift at her best and a natural evolution that she has been working towards for years. Taylor is dominating pop music just as hard as she dominated country and 1989 will probably net her several more hits and awards to add to her shelves. Without question, this for me is the years best. I can’t wait to see what Taylor gives us next.
That’s it guys. My favorites of the year in Music. I still have some movies to get through so that is a couple weeks out probably. I do have a game of the year that I’ll be posting in a few days. Until then, Happy New Year! What were some of your favorite albums this year?? Let me know in the comments and tell me what you think of the list!
Garon Cockrell is the Founder and Editor of Pop Culture Beast and host of The Pop Culture Beast Show. He founded the site over seven years ago to have a place on the internet to write about the things he loved. Since then, Garon has become a best-selling author (Demonic and Other Tales), an award winning screenwriter (Best Screenplay 2013 Motor City Nightmares Film Festival), and a cast member on the top rated podcast, Never Not Funny.