Last but certainly not least, following the Top 50 Singles of 2014 and the Top 10 EP’s of 2014, it is now that time to take a look back at some of the best, most noteworthy album releases in the past year and then rank them on their greatness. This year we received major releases from some of the biggest artists in the game, welcomed back veterans, and were surprised by a flock of newcomers ready to change the game. As always, this is just a reflection of my own personal taste so don’t come for my wig. Let me know what you think and feel free to comment below with your own list!
50. Jessie J – Sweet Talker
49. Kris Allen – Horizons
48. Blake Lewis – Portrait of a Chameleon
47. Paloma Faith – A Perfect Contradiction
46. Lily Allen – Sheezus
45. Cher Lloyd – Sorry I’m Late
44. Shakira – Shakira
43. Jennifer Hudson – JHUD
42. Gorgon City – Sirens
41. Calvin Harris – Motion
40. Iggy Azalea – The New Classic
39. Flight Facilities – Down To Earth
38. The Veronicas – The Veronicas
37. Chris Brown – X
36. Kelis – FOOD
35. Basement Jaxx – Junto
34. Foxes – Glorious
33. Kimbra – The Golden Echo
32. Skrillex – Recess
31. Coldplay – Ghost Stories
30. Maroon 5 – V
29. Bleachers – Strange Desire
28. Clean Bandit – New Eyes
27. Jennifer Lopez – A.K.A
26. Broods – Evergreen
25. Kiesza – Sound Of A Woman
24. FKA Twigs – LP1
23. La Roux – Trouble In Paradise
22. Betty Who – Take Me When You Go
21. Charli XCX – Sucker
20. Danity Kane – DK3
19. Nick Jonas – Nick Jonas
18. Nicki Minaj – The Pinkprint
17. Ariana Grande – My Everything
16. Sia – 1000 Forms Of Fear
15. Mariah Carey – Me. I Am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse
14. Kylie Minogue – Kiss Me Once
13. Ed Sheeran – x
12. Lykke Li – I Never Learn
11. Jhené Aiko – Souled Out
10. Mary J. Blige – The London Sessions: After slaying our lives with her surprising Disclosure collaboration “F For You” earlier this year, Mary packed her bags and booked a trip to London to record with the likes of Sam Smith, Naughty Boy, Emeli Sande, James Napier and more. Featuring a range of stomping house jams and soaring piano ballads, The London Sessions is a record that proves why Mary is still one of the world’s most skilled vocalists. It’s the perfect marriage of new disco-diva Mary and her signature hip-hop-soul sound. Highlights: “Therapy“, “Nobody But You“, “Whole Damn Year“, and “Follow“.
BUY Mary J. Blige’s thirteenth studio album The London Sessions on iTunes now!
9. Sam Smith – In The Lonely Hour: This British crooner has pipes of gold, and in 2014, he showed us all that he knows exactly how to use them. While production on his debut offering feels relatively safe throughout, it’s Sam‘s lyrics of confession, pain and unfulfillable love where the LP really shines. What’s more, despite Sam‘s sexual orientation (yes, he’s a mo), the album and its themes remain painfully universal through and through. At just 22-years-old, he’s already accomplished so much and it’s pretty clear that he has a long career ahead of him. Highlights: “Stay With Me“, “I’m Not The Only One“, and “Lay Me Down“.
BUY Sam Smith’s debut studio album In the Lonely Hour (Deluxe Version) on iTunes now!
8. Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence: (Original Review) In a world of high-gloss pop-stars who are always singing about self-empowerment and being the strongest “bad-bitches” in the world, there is something oddly comforting about hearing someone like Lana Del Rey talk about emotions deemed too controversial, too subversive for mainstream success. She may have ditched the hip-hop beats of her debut, but Lana still manages to transport us into her dark and mysterious alternate universe. She is still playing her character, if not a slightly more grown version of her from two years ago, and the world is still clearly obsessed. Highlights: “West Coast“, “Brooklyn Baby“, and “Ultraviolence“.
BUY Lana Del Rey’s third studio album Ultraviolence (Deluxe Version) on iTunes now!
7. Azealia Banks – Broke With Expensive Taste: There was a point where everyone thought this album would never see the light of day, but thankfully (two years later…), the Twitter beef queen pulled a Beyonce and finally released her forever delayed debut LP and its easily one of the better records of 2014. Dripping in confidence and class, and serving plenty of heat, brilliance, and personality, Broke With Expensive Taste more than proved why so many are still rooting for this fierce songstress. Highlights: “Chasing Time“, “212“, “Gimme A Chance“, “Nude Beach A-Go-Go“, and “Soda“.
BUY Azealia Banks’ debut studio album Broke With Expensive Taste on iTunes now!
6. Katy B – Little Red. For her sophomore album, Katy B put together a collection of sophisticated and deeply emotional dance songs that come packed with slick melodies and intelligently written lyricism that easily trump her debut. Sure she isn’t that well known, but she’s more than established herself with Little Red as a force to be reckoned with. This is dance-pop that’s a step ahead of the curve, and she’s showing no signs of slowing down. Her time will come! Highlights: “Aaliyah“, “Crying For No Reason“, “I Like You“, and “Still“.
BUY Katy B’s sophomore album Little Red (Deluxe Version) on iTunes now!
5. Tove Lo – Queen Of The Clouds: In a world where pop music can be more surface than a counter-top, Tove Lo came shining through with her gritty, unrelenting honesty and stellar pop productions, which is incredibly rare to hear on a debut album. It is by no means perfect, but Queen of the Clouds is one of the most refreshing, cohesive, polished, and fully-realized albums I’ve heard this year. The 12-track, lyrically-driven, electro pop album is as ambitious as it is personal. Tove has an incredible career in front of her, and with Queen of the Clouds, she has solidified herself as a member of the elite Swedish pop stars we have all come to revere. Bravo! Highlights: “Talking Body“, “Timebomb“, and “Not On Drugs“.
BUY Tove Lo’s debut studio album Queen of the Clouds (Deluxe Version) on iTunes now!
4. Taylor Swift – 1989: After what feels like forever ago since the release of 2012’s record-breaking Red, 2014 saw Taylor ditching her teenage country roots and embracing her inner pop princess in what has turned out to be one of the strongest pop records of the year with 1989. Featuring production from the likes of Max Martin, Ryan Tedder and Shellback, the album came packed with undeniable melodies, huge perfectly turned choruses, and Taylor‘s winning story-telling lyricism. The songs not only sound big with their wildly enthusiastic melodies and polished-to-perfection productions, they showcase Taylor‘s personality like never before. If you’d told me I’d be completely obsessing over a Tay Tay album a year ago, I’d probably laugh in your face. But lo and behold, Taylor Swift has totally won me over and I’m not ashamed of it at all. Highlights: “Blank Space“, “Style“, “Out of the Woods“, and “Clean“.
BUY Taylor Swift’s fifth studio album 1989 on iTunes now!
3. Jessie Ware – Tough Love: The sophomore slump can sometimes be nearly impossible to avoid, but with Tough Love, Jessie Ware managed to deliver a more than worthy follow-up to her critically acclaimed debut, Devotion. This time around, the soulful diva took on a more refined and ambitious sound, enlisting Benny Blanco, Two Inch Punch and Miguel to complement her strengths. The LP is a record brimming with smooth R&B grooves, intimate electronica, and a whole lot of soul. Jessie‘s more confident than ever here and the fact that she continues to refine within herself is what makes her such a unique and important presence in music. Highlights: “Tough Love“, “You & I (Forever)“, “Say You Love Me“, and “Sweetest Song“.
BUY Jessie Ware’s sophomore album Tough Love (Deluxe Version) on iTunes now!
2. Tinashe – Aquarius: This rising pop princess has surely come a long way; from being a member of a short-lived girl group, to 3 years of mixtape-making, to scoring a major label record deal, to finally dropping her debut album, Aquarius. A savvy, self-assured, and sensual body of work from an artist that took her time to perfect her sound and get it just right. Though she proudly wears her influences—Janet Jackson, Aaliyah, The Weeknd, and any number of Y2K era of R&B belters—on her sleeve. Tinashe‘s many strengths as a songwriter and singer outweigh any possible charges of imitation, and her willingness to apply subtlety, make unexpected choices, and take risks is what reminds us all what a proper pop star should sound like in 2014. Highlights: “Bet“, “2 On” (feat. Schoolboy Q), “How Many Times” (feat. Future), “Pretend” (feat. A$AP Rocky), and “Wildfire“.
BUY Tinashe’s debut studio album Aquarius on iTunes now!
1. Banks – Goddess: Since entering the musical arena earlier this year with her brilliant EP’s Fall Over and London, brooding chanteuse Jillian Banks quickly soared to blogger fame and acclaim with her unique twist of dark, electronic, R&B, atmospheric alt pop sounds. Goddess, is a stellar debut from an artist willingly laying her emotions bare, at times almost embarrassingly so, sounding raw and vengeful when she belts over spacey textures. 2014 supplied us with lots of impressive moody music-makers, Banks managed to rise above the fray with her debut and more than lived up to the hype. Highlights: “Goddess“, “This Is What It Feels Like“, “Drowning“, and “Beggin For Thread“
BUY Banks’ debut studio album Goddess (Deluxe Version) on iTunes now!