There have been some truly amazing albums released throughout the past year and I have decided to compile a list of my Top 20 albums (sorry, Top 10 was too impossible to choose so I had to make it 20)
It was quite tricky deciding who made the cut… there have been a few albums which really disappointed me despite a handful of stand-out tracks… and also albums which I know should be on here but I just didn’t listen to them enough to give them proper judgement (sorry Tristan Prettyman, your new EP sounded amazing from one listen….)
I think that I’ve made the right choices, so without further ado…. Here are my top recommendations for 2014 – make sure to check them all out J
20. Tori Amos – Unrepentant Geraldines
Once upon a time, Tori Amos would have made the top of my list without question…. Unfortunately she has lost a lot of the spark that made me fall in love with her on recent albums. However, Tori’s lesser offerings still wipe the floor with a hell of a lot of other artists so I figured it was only right she made the list. Unrepentant Geraldines is a lot more gentle and subtle than her older material, but it is full to the brim of gorgeous melodies and lush, intricate arrangements. Her lyrics contain strong, feminist messages such as the issue of women losing their worth in society as they age. There are also some beautiful love songs that will send shivers down your spine and a wonderful duet with her daughter Natasha. A mesmerising and enchanting listen.
- Wild Way
19. f(x) – Red Light
I have been listening to so much K-Pop recently as it’s a market I am currently attempting to write for… In the process I have become a huge fan of many Asian girl-bands, including the amazing f(x). They are super sassy with huge melodic pop songs that pack a real punch. The songs on Red Light range from dark and urban to sweet and summery. It’s infectiously good fun.
- Red Light
- Paper Heart
18. Ryan Adams – Self-Titled
I only have one other album by Ryan Adams, but everything I’ve heard from him in the past I have loved so I decided to give his new album a whirl this year. I have read reviews from fans saying it’s not as strong as his older material… perhaps it’s because I’m a fairly new fan but I truly love this album! It’s effortlessly cool with great rocky hooks and emotive lyrics you can put your own interpretation to. Ryan is obviously a master of his craft and this album makes me want to check out his back catalogue ASAP.
- Gimme Something Good
- Stay With Me
17. 2NE1 – Crush
My second and final K-Pop entry of the list…. 2NE1 are another super cool, sassy girl band who were recently used on the Microsoft advert, gaining them some promotion in the West. Crush is a short album at only ten songs, but it’s full of attitude and awesome hooks. There are also enough English bits for me to sing along to as I’m dancing around like a crazy person, which ultimately meant they won out to their rivals f(x). It’s so much cooler and catchier than many US/UK girl band offerings, and as well as the upbeat dance, there are also some great urban ballads that are impossible not to love.
- Come Back Home
16. Lucy Hale – Road Between
Lucy Hale is the actress who plays Aria on Pretty Little Liars, and since I love her to death on that show I thought I’d try her album. I wasn’t sure what to expect because actress-to-singer albums tend to be a bit of a car-crash in all honesty… But I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised with this and it grew on me a hell of a lot. Lucy’s vocals do leave a lot to be desired which is why the album didn’t get a higher ranking from me (she sounds a bit bored and nasal throughout), BUT the songs are really lovely with truly clever lyrics and hooky melodies. There is even a really lovely track about self-confidence for girls which is an important message for her audience. I think perhaps Lucy’s voice isn’t the greatest fit for country music, which is a real shame because the material is top-notch. Don’t be put off though, after a while I got used to the vocals and I find I never skip her songs when they come up on my Ipod.
- Nervous Girls
- From The Backseat
- You Sound Good To Me
15. Ingrid Michaelson – Lights Out
I am a massive fan of Ingrid Michaelson and I had high expectations for her new album. I’m not sure it quite met those expectations entirely, which is why it didn’t make my Top 10… However, there are more than enough magnificent tracks to be included somewhere on this list. For me personally, there were just a few too many samey sounding ballads and not enough stand-out tracks. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some truly beautiful songs on Lights Out – the duet with her husband Greg Laswell is hauntingly gorgeous and Home brings tears to my eyes. My favourite moments though are the upbeat tracks which showcase Ingrid at her strongest and smartest. Perhaps not my favourite Ingrid album of all time, but still a damn fine album.
- Girls Chase Boys
- Time Machine
14. Iggy Azalea – The New Classic
Now let’s get one thing straight. I am not a fan of rap. I am not a fan of hip-hop. I never listen to that genre, ever. So why the hell do I love Iggy Azalea so much?! I have no idea, but I fricking love this album!! Iggy just oozes cool with every note and her raps are so clever and interesting. I love her attitude, I love the way she phrases things and I love all the hooks and concepts of her songs. She is a total bad-ass and I can’t get enough!! So many great tracks on this album, it will have you rolling the car windows down and singing along at the top of your lungs.
- Fuck Love
13. Marion Raven – Songs From A Blackbird
Marion Raven is one half of the Norwegian girl band M2M – a band I adored in my youth. She has been solo for many years now but rarely releases new material. This new album was highly anticipated by her fans and it’s so unique and original. Marion has channelled a retro, 70’s vibe with the writing and production, giving it a smooth and vintage kind of sound. It’s so lovely and refreshing to hear and the songs wash over you like a cool, musical wave. It’s quite middle of the road but I absolutely love it. For fans of mature, sophisticated songwriting.
- The Minute
12. Shakira – Self-Titled
I was really surprised when Shakira released a new album which had more of a country, singer-songwriter feel than her previous work. I think it was a fantastic new direction to go in and the album’s stripped-back songs are some of the best Shakira has released in years. There is a really reflective vibe to this album, but it is still very much pop at its core. Every track is so hooky and her signature quirky lyrics are on top form. I also love the duet with Blake Shelton, and the big epic numbers such as Empire. A strong album and this year’s biggest surprise.
- The One Thing
11. The Veronicas – Self-Titled
The Aussie twin sisters are back with a vengeance! This album is a pop masterpiece with a whole range of tracks from storming upbeat numbers to beautiful ballads. Their lyrics and song themes are so quirky and original, and the melodies twist and turn in cool ways you never quite expect. There are lots of influences here from Civil Wars blues to Beatles-esque little ditties. I love how experimental The Veronicas are and how much they are always pushing themselves forward with new ideas.
- If You Love Someone
- Born Bob Dylan
10. Miranda Lambert – Platinum
I don’t know much of country superstar Miranda Lambert’s back catalogue, but after hearing a few of her newer tracks on the radio at work I wanted to check her out. I’m so glad I took a chance on Platinum because it’s an incredibly strong album filled with wonderful storytelling, witty lyrics and powerful melodies. Miranda has an amazing voice and she switches effortlessly between hilarious, sassy numbers and heart-wrenching ballads. It’s an album that’s big, blonde and brilliant.
- Little Red Wagon
9. Colbie Caillat – Gypsy Heart
Colbie released this album in two parts over the year and I almost missed the fact the whole album was out! As a result I think I am more in love with the Side A section of the album (ie. the first five songs) but when the other tracks were finally released, they were equally as great. Colbie’s voice is as silky smooth and gorgeous as ever, and her melodic songs leave you feeling totally uplifted. There are some big pop moments here as well as more gentle numbers such as Try, with the important message of self-acceptance. I love everything Colbie has ever released and this album is another triumph in her catalogue of wonderful music.
- If You Love Me Let Me Go
8. Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Wanderlust
At the start of this year, Sophie released a new album which was unlike anything she had previously recorded. Wanderlust is a sophisticated, singer/songwriter album with acoustic, orchestral arrangements and poetic, symbolic imagery. In my opinion, it is the greatest thing that Miss Bextor has ever done in her career. Her vocals sound lush and engaging, and the classy songwriting is expert. Young Blood is quite simply one of the most beautiful songs ever written, and as well as the lovely ballads/mid-tempo tracks, there are some brilliant upbeat moments which give the whole album a great dynamic. Listening to Wanderlust is like walking through a wonderous dream that you don’t want to wake up from.
- Young Blood
- 13 Little Dolls
- Love Is A Camera
7. Ariana Grande – My Everything
I am a huge fan of little Miss Ari – her vocals are beyond amazing and this album showcases them fabulously. The tracks are a great mix of pop and RnB, with endless amounts of hooks and catchy little moments. The single releases are some of the best of the year (Bang Bang anyone?! What a CHOOOOON!!!) and the album tracks have amazing melodies that keep you on your toes. I am not usually into urban pop, but My Everything has made me a convert.
- Bang Bang
- Only 1
6. Cher Lloyd – Sorry I’m Late
Love her or hate her, you cannot deny that Cher Lloyd’s Sorry I’m Late is an AMAZING pop album. Every song blows you away with hook after hook. It’s big, brash, fun and full of attitude. There is even a gorgeous tender moment in the ballad Goodnight for Cher’s father, showing her softer side. This album has something for everyone and is the perfect soundtrack for driving around and having a car-party.
- I Wish
- Bind Your Love
5. Christina Perri – Head Or Heart
Head Or Heart is Christina’s second album and the follow up to her truly beautiful debut that made me fall in love with her songwriting in the first place. I love second albums from artists because it’s the real test of whether they have longevity or not… and I think it’s safe to say from this offering that Christina will be here for a very long time to come. The songs range from tender, acoustic ballads to upbeat, driving numbers that lift your soul. Her lyrics and her vocal delivery are full of passion and meaning. This is a very heartfelt album that will resonate with many people, especially those in need of something inspirational. I also completely ADORE her duet with Ed Sheeran, what a perfect collaboration!
- Burning Gold
- Be My Forever
4. Sheryl Crow – Feels Like Home
This album is a bit of a cheaty one because I’m pretty sure it was released in US in 2013…. But UK got it at the very start of this year, so I’m counting it… and my God, it’s a GREAT album!! I don’t know why Sheryl hasn’t released country tracks sooner! Her voice is perfect for the genre and sounds as fantastic as ever. The songwriting is brilliant – so hooky and full of amazing concepts that make country music so great. It’s very easy to listen to and has a good balance of rocky, driving tracks and gorgeous ballads. I hope Sheryl stays in this vein of music for a while because I am loving it – and on a side note, I saw her live for the first time this year and she was phenomenal!!
- Best Of Times
- Nobody’s Business
3. Lily Allen – Sheezus
Lily is truly the Queen of UK Pop and I was seriously impressed with the release of Sheezus this year. Her lyrical timing is like no one else in the industry and as with all her albums, every song is riddled with clever observations and satirical insight. She sings about everything from sexist double standards to internet trolls, and at points I literally laughed out loud in the middle of the street when I was listening for the first time! The production sounds great, and the melodies are so well crafted that it makes me insanely jealous for not having written them myself. The one down side about Sheezus is that the whole campaign surrounding it has been a little bit lacklustre, with poor promotion and boring music videos… it feels like Lily’s heart hasn’t been in it as much as previous albums, which is a shame because the material is just wonderful!!
- L8 Cmmr
- Hard Out Here
- Our Time
2. Ed Sheeran – X
As you can probably tell from this list, I am not really into male musicians. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I tend to lean toward music I relate to, or feel I could write/sing myself and as a result it tends to be pretty female-centric. Well, the one exception to that rule is the amazing Mr. Sheeran because his songs inspire me in ways you can’t even imagine, and I relate to his lyrics more than any other male songwriter. X is a true masterpiece of an album with gut-wrenching melodies and beautiful, poetic imagery. I think it far surpasses his debut album and has made me a massive fan for life. His love songs are achingly beautiful and his hate songs are even better (Don’t … WHAT a revenge song!!!!) He is a true master of his craft and I would kill to meet him one day and tell him how much he has inspired me as a musican.
- All Of The Stars
1. Taylor Swift – 1989
OK, it’s no surprise that this made the top of my list. This is the album that topped EVERYONE’S lists this year. And quite rightly so. It’s a STORMER of a pop album with amazing songs, production and an ingenious campaign behind it. Taylor is such a smart businesswoman and releasing a massive pop album is the best thing she could have done at this point in her career. I was dying for it and she did not disappoint!! Every song grabs you by the ears and refuses to let go. Her lyrics and melodies are perfection and every song tells an amazing story. It’s the kind of album that you can never skip one song from when they pop up on your Ipod. You start screaming out “OH MY GOD, I LOVE THIS ONE!!” about all of them. Even pop-haters love it. It’s brilliant. The end.
- Shake It Off
- Blank Space
- All You Had To Do Was Stay
So there we have it, those are all my favourites of the year! I hope you enjoyed my list and possibly discovered some new artists to check out. If you are at all interested in EVERYTHING I listened to in 2014, please check out my Pinterest board that I update obsessively:
Hope you all had a great year – can’t wait to hear all the new releases of 2015, woohoo!!
Written by Becky – Send her a tweet here: @beckyjerams
((All images taken from Google Image Search))