Monday, January 5, 2015

The Best Albums of 2014

2014 is definitely over and honestly, THANK GOD! With the passing of a new year, it is time to see who will succeed last year's album of the year by Charli XCX. For a while, it looked like she could have unseated herself and broken an NSOTP record, but her new album is so good we had to relegate it to 2015 as it would have been unfair to the other acts. Luckily, there is plenty of pop to go around! Here are the best albums of 2014 with reasons why they're great and my personal favorite on each one, because contrary to what people say regarding their children, I can pick favorites. So let's get to it.


Honorable mentions go to Calvin Harris (the pop moments are great but the EDM parts are shit)

Nick Jonas (music was good, campaign was good, straight guy appealing to the gays is never a bad thing)

Gorgon City (deep house is always better with a top line )

David Guetta (best collabs on an album but overall forgettable)

and Tiesto (this was not the year for dance music)


33. Paloma Faith - A Perfect Contradiction

Paloma Faith albums are always a cause for celebration but this one is officially her second best. It's 50% amazing if you like your Winehouses and Duffys.
Favorite Song: "Impossible Heart" - Memo to Paloma: Make a disco album!

32. Kylie Minogue - Kiss Me Once

The saddest thing to happen to pop is to not have an amazing Kylie Minogue album. Not that the songs were bad, but with Kiss Me Once, the campaign was a mess, the song selection didn't make sense and nobody could be bothered to take her seriously. Regardless, Kylie moments abound on the album and for a second, the world is a happier place.
Favorite Song: "If Only" - A Kylie masterpiece that makes lovers cry every time

31. Kyla La Grange - Cut Your Teeth

Who the hell is Kyla La Grange you ask? She has made an avant-garde, minimal electropop album that hypnotizes you with each listen. Definitely a grower, but well worth it.
Favorite Song: "Cut Your Teeth" - Imagine if Miley Cyrus did this? The world would implode.

30. Cher Lloyd - Sorry I'm Late

Resident grunter Cher Lloyd proved she was a force to reckon with. Without the acoustic songs, this could have been in the top 20. It looks like Cher will benefit from the 3rd album genius period that Lady Gaga also experienced.
Favorite Song: "Killin' It" - This Tove Lo co-write could really be single of the year if Cher released it.

29. Alexandra Stan - Unlocked

Mrs. Saxobeat turned Japanese popstar, Alexandra Stan released her second album very quietly (except in Japan where everyone loved her) but this was a great step towards moving on from her horn heavy debut. Just keep on going Ms. Stan.
Favorite Song: "Dance" - Still has saxophones but used for good instead of evil. Sorry Jason Derulo.

28. Ariana Grande - My Everything

The best part about Ariana Grande as a popstar is that she has no idea what she is doing. Her first album was lovely but you could have given it to any Mariah loving teenager. The new album makes a bit more sense as to what Ariana "the artiste" truly is. Maybe album 3 will be her moment to shine.
Favorite Song: "Break Your Heart Right Back" - What happens when your boyfriend cheats on you with a man? Write a song about it. (This also happens to be the premise of my own debut album) (Haha jk lol)

27. Leighton Meester - Heartstrings

The original and true Queen B Leighton Meester has finally made her debut album and though we may have thought it would be a EDM sirenfest, Leighton swerved left and made a hazy dreamy psychedelic album that is perfect for a lazy afternoon.
Favorite Song: "Heartstrings" - One of those romantic songs that is perfect for a late night cuddle.

26. Banks - Goddess

Alternative R&B was all the rage in 2014 but no one really mastered it's dark nature and noir pop element as well as Banks. Sublime, nocturnal, and everything you could want from the Mutya Keisha Siobhan album. 2nd prize for this kind of album goes to FKA twigs but next time, think of the pop children?
Favorite Song: "Warm Water" - Her first song that really made me take notice and still a favorite jam for the post-club comedown.

25. Zara Larsson - 1

In a year without a Rihanna or Robyn album, somewhere in the fjords of Sweden teenage popstar Zara Larsson managed to make an album that sounds like both of the pop sensations combined. Really great work!
Favorite Song: "Rooftop" - It is a song about a person dying at a barbecue in September. Brilliant!

24. Sia - 1000 Forms Of Fear

Considering Sia has written for almost every major popstar on the planet, you would expect a major album that hones in on her signature brand of intimate lyrics and insane vocals. That is what she has given us. The only reason it isn't higher is because her signature also happens to be ballads, and we at NSOTP can only handle a 1:4 ratio of those on albums. Sorry, not sorry.
Favorite Song: "Fire Meets Gasoline" - The perfect follow up to "Chandelier" and imagine the video! The arsonist anthem!

23. Neon Jungle - Welcome To The Jungle

My new favorite girl band Neon Jungle delivered a great debut. I went pretty in depth here but if all goes as planned, this could be the girls' Sound Of the Underground and by album 3, they will have reached pop deity status.
Favorite Song: "Trouble" - This was a hard one to choose but it's what made us fall in love with them to begin with.

22. The Saturdays - Finest Selection: The Greatest Hits

The best greatest hits album since the Girls Aloud one. Just another reminder The Saturdays were worthy successors to the "best girl group on the planet" title. Unfortunately, greatest hits albums lose points for not bringing that much new music. Luckily, the new music on this one is FUCKING RIDICULOUS.
Favorite Song: "What Are You Waiting For?" - THREE CHORUSES!!!!!!

21. Lana Del Rey - Ultraviolence

Was this the Lana Del Rey album we all wanted? No. Was this anti-pop masterpiece a lovely piece of psychedelic rock that shows Lana's progression as an artiste? DEAR GOD YASSSSS.
Favorite Song: "Shades Of Cool" - One of the better orchestral pop ballads released this year.

20. Yelle - Complètement Fou

Why can't other international popstars make albums like Yelle? Why not just sing in your native tongue, teach young people a new language, and make amazing pop music? We love Yelle very much and we hope they never stop making music.
Favorite Song: "Complètement Fou" - This is what happens when people sit down, stop with their whole "I'm a serious musician" bullshit, and make great pop music. Jessie J, take note.

19. Tinashe - Aquarius

One of the most pleasant surprises of the year was Tinashe's ascent to the pop stratosphere. Her long-awaited debut album takes all the best bits from bedroom funtime songs and adds a slight twist make it perfect for 2014. I am sure that if you ask someone, they will have had sex to one of her songs. The highest honor, you will surely agree.
Favorite Song: "2 On" - Leave it to Tinashe to come up with her own saying for getting crunk.

18. Foxes - Glorious

This was the first real record of 2014 I was properly obsessed with. The perfect debut album for Foxes that tells all her stories with that unique brand of organic pop that was not destined for mainstream success but somehow found it. Foxes can officially call herself an NSOTP favorite.
Favorite Song: "Let Go For Tonight" - This euphoric piano-crashing waterfall of a single was absolutely fantastic.

17. 5 Seconds Of Summer - 5 Seconds Of Summer

I never wanted to like 5 Seconds Of Summer. Sometimes I have to take a second to think whether life is worth living if I like 5 Seconds Of Summer. Then I listen to their album, the only album involving guitars and drums only that I have ever liked, and think it is worth living.
Favorite Song: "Don't Stop" - This is what a boy band rock group should sound like, but more importantly what popstars should sound like.

16. Mapei - Hey Hey

When you think of Swedish pop, Mapei's strange assortment of tribal influences is not what you might expect. But after one listen, Mapei's debut album is definitely the biggest surprise of 2014. I really need to book a trip to Sweden.
Favorite Song: "Change" - The only song on the album that captures all of Mapei's sound in about 4 minutes.

15. Various artists (but mostly Lorde) - The Hunger Games Soundtrack

Lorde continues to make me happy to be part of her generation of pop lovers. When assembling the roster for this epic borefest of a film, Lorde knew that there was a certain darkness she had to capture that matched not only the movie, but also 2014 as a whole. Though the pop moments are sometimes hidden, this will go down as this decade's greatest film soundtrack.
Favorite Song: "Scream My Name" - Of course the Tove Lo song is the best on the album. #2014

14. One Direction - FOUR

Somehow One Direction made their best album after 4 years. This is what boy bands of the 2010's should always sound like. Since this vacancy will be open in 2015 (when 1D will most likely break up), it looks like Rixton will be the premiere boy band unless those bloody idiots in Stereo Kicks get their shit together.
Favorite Song: "Clouds" - Brilliant euphoric headrushy and the perfect legacy to leave behind.

13. The Veronicas - The Veronicas

When we all heard about the Gwen Stefani and Fergie comebacks this year, it seemed as though 2007 was making a all us too excited for words. Unfortunately, their return wasn't exactly what we were all hoping for. Then The Veronicas came back and showed the world how it's really done.
Favorite Song: "Did You Miss Me (I'm A Veronica)" The most self-reflective piece of music of the year. We missed you both quite a lot.

12. Erasure - The Violet Flame

Everything Richard X touches turns to gold. That includes the new Erasure album. We hope that Monarchy and Pet Shop Boys will continue this trend of amazing electropop albums for the future.
Favorite Song: "Elevation" - This may not be my favorite song by tomorrow but it's hard to choose when the album is so cohesive and every song complements each other perfectly.

11. Betty Who - Take Me When You Go

Betty Who is everything a popstar should be. She is personable, funny, possesses a great accent, worldly, and has a unique sound that makes her get compared to great popstars so people start listening to her, then realize that she doesn't sound like anyone else and you become really obsessed. It looks like any year she releases an album, Betty will have an album of the year.
Favorite Song: "All Of You" - I like that it sounds like Betty singing on a Madeon song. Now I'm comparing aren't I?

10. Ella Henderson - Chapter One

Ella Henderson took her ridiculous exit from the X Factor with grace and decided to say "Fuck off" to the UK and came back with such a huge single that Leona Lewis is dancing on a dead Christmas tree in anger. Her first album takes all the best parts of every X Factor album to make an insanely amazing album. It comes out in the US on January 13. Buy It.
Favorite Song: "Rockets" - It's big. It's loud. It's wild. The greatest album track of the year.

9. Azealia Banks - Broke With Expensive Taste

SHE DID IT. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Azealia Banks is the best rapper in the game and if this album had come out in 2012, it would have been instant album of the year. Hopefully, Ms. Banks can close this chapter in her life (and her Twitter account for a while) and make a proper album that will be 10x more amazing.
Favorite Song: "Miss Amor" - This could have been a single. In the same sense "I Love It" could have been a single. In that Azealia should release it as a single.

8. iamamiwhoami - Blue

Before Beyonce came and thought she had revolutionized the pop world with that surprise album last year, Swedish visionary iamamiwhoami had been creating films to compliment her unique brand of icy electropop for 4 years. Three albums in and Blue finally sees the collective embracing the pop side of their art and each video is a masterpiece.
Favorite Song: "hunting for pearls" - When songs are this good, it's ok to be above 5 minutes of amazing.

7. La Roux - Trouble In Paradise

La Roux has a uncanny talent for creating incredibly cohesive albums that take you to a whole other world of pop happiness. Her first album was a neo-techno rave planet where everything was shiny and chrome. Trouble In Paradise is a tropical resort planet that is just as shiny but provides a nice warm atmosphere to most of the dark nocturnal records of the year.
Favorite song: "Cruel Sexuality" - This album definitely has the greatest album titles of the past 5 years

6. Queen Of Hearts - Cocoon

Now THIS was a Beyonce styled surprise that I could get behind. Queen Of Hearts was the type of underground pop songstress that had the potential to knock our socks off for a while. This debut album takes all of her potential and channels it into a perfectly executed signature sound with no dud tracks. This was what Kylie in 2014 should have sounded like but I am very glad The Queen made it instead.
Favorite Song: "Heartbeat" - If a song is called Heartbeat, then it is automatically amazing.

5. Jessie Ware - Tough Love

Known for her ridiculous outfits and meat dresses…, Jessie Ware knows her way around a serene pop album. The first single was a little too "I'm a pop song too precious to be understood" but the whole album makes you want to cry out of happiness and sadness at the same time. Every song is just so beautiful.
Favorite Song: "You & I (Forever)" - The hopeless romantic's anthem. The video makes me bawl everytime I watch.

4. Bright Light Bright Light - Life Is Easy

Bright Light Bright Light has created the first perfect album of the year. Normally we only get about 2 a year so this is pretty exciting. It's an album of love, life, moving on, looking back and looking forward. General human experiences, but that's what pop is about. Making things that seem normal very special. With that, I'll end by saying Bright Light Bright Light is my favorite male popstar.
Favorite Song: "There Are No Miracles" - So many parts of the song give me goosebumps. It is also being released as a single in 2015, making it currently THE BEST SONG OF 2015!!!

3. Ronika - Selectadisc

I have spoken at length about how much I adore Ronika but it has to be said again: her signature brand of forward thinking retropop takes me to the era of music that makes wish I was born back in the day. Every track on Selectadisc has Ronika's fingerprints all over it and we can imagine looking back in 5 years and saying this record was one of humanity's greatest achievements during the 2010's.
Favorite Songs: "What's In Your Bag" - The bounciest and most fun song on the album that just makes you happy. Isn't that all we really want in life?

2. Tove Lo - Queen Of The Clouds

Every year there is one new popstar that somehow works their way into my heart. This year that honor goes to Tove Lo. She was responsible for one of the best songs of last year, which then became the biggest surprise hit of this year, one of the best songs of this year, writing credits for some of the other albums of this year, the best concert I have been to this year, and has become one of the most enigmatic popstars on the planet. The album itself is a modern masterpiece and continues Sweden's string of ridiculously fantastic pop albums. Congratulations Tove Lo for being NSOTP's artist of the year!!!
Favorite Song: "Timebomb" - My anger that this song was not released as a single will never be appeased. Clearly, the best song created in 2014.

1. Taylor Swift - 1989

I hate being predictable here, and I was thinking Tove Lo or Ronika might make a better album of the year. Then I received the Taylor Swift album for Christmas and have listened to it twice a day in full since. People may hate on Tay Tay but when good pop music comes around, it's time to just shut up and enjoy. That's what Taylor has done this year.

1989 is a something of an amalgamation of Max Martin's production, Taylor's lyrics, and the sound of 2014 with a nod to some classic pop moments throughout history. However, the reason that 1989 is album of the year is that every song is memorable, has a key moment that blows your mind, and resonates deep in your soul in ways you didn't think were possible. These were the requirements that brought Charli XCX her album of the year and some things in pop are constant.

From the pen click in "Blank Space" to the James Dean eyes of "Style", moving furniture so we could dance in "Out Of The Woods" to the ridiculous Boys & Boys & Girls & Girls in "Welcome To New York" to the quiet realizations in "You Are In Love" and the high pitched STAY in "All You Had To Do Was Stay", Taylor Swift provides snapshots of moments in our lives that we hold precious and brings it to the forefront with amazing music. This album more than deserves to be album of the year and hopefully 2015 brings us something just as good or better than 1989.

Favorite Song: "New Romantics" - This is a bonus track. How could you make such an amazing song a bonus track? When the rest of the songs are just as amazing, that's when.


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