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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 19, 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 51
BEST OF MUSIC 2014: ALBUMS AND SINGLES
Arts & Entertainment
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BEST OF MUSIC 2014: ALBUMS AND SINGLES

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

When compiling any best-of list, the hardest part for me is ranking them in order because my daily mood swings call for a slight adjustment. That said, however, from the hundreds of albums and singles released in 2014, these were the cream of the crop according to my ears, in ranking order.

ALBUMS

1. 1989 - Taylor Swift
Though she's mega successful, and that doesn't sit well with indie hipsters, the fact is Swift is talented and clever and continues to grow from album to album. 1989 is a sophisticated leap from country-pop to mainstream pop with lyrically catchy mid-tempo songs and admirable ballads that dare us to hate them - hence, we can't get enough.

2. Too Bright - Perfume Genius
The unordinarily named Perfume Genius delivered a truly extraordinary experience with his third full-length recording that featured the fearless track Queen. Too Bright is brilliantly awkward, true to the Seattle artist's style, aside from being complex, daring, and so remarkably different than anything else put out this year.

3. LP1 - FKA twigs
Undoubtedly, UK-based performer FKA twigs released one of 2014's most creative records. Best described as an R&B Bjork, the musician-producer wowed audiences with Two Weeks and Pendulum.

4. Morning Phase - Beck
Not that Beck Hansen has put out a bad album; it's just been years since he put out something brilliant along the lines of Odelay and Sea Change. Folk-driven with hints of the Laurel Canyon hippie days, it's a refreshing comeback from the acclaimed singer-songwriter.

5. St. Vincent - St. Vincent
Multi-instrumentalist and forward-thinker Annie Clark, better known as St. Vincent, finally got wide recognition for her ambitious self-titled 2014 recording. If you listen to Rattlesnake or Digital Witness, you'll understand why she's competing against Arcade Fire and Jack White for Best Alternative Album (57th Grammy Awards).

6. Run the Jewels 2 - Run the Jewels
Is it me, or is rap music getting worse? Fortunately, Run the Jewels (El-P, Killer Mike) gave the genre a credible boost with their sophomore offering that included two smashes, Blockbuster Night, Part 1 and Oh My Darling Don't Cry.

7. Platinum - Miranda Lambert
Country music's coolest chick strikes again with a smartly composed batch of songs that are bold, sassy, and of course, girl-powered. I love my apron, but I ain't your mama from the track Little Red Wagon is one of many great lines the native Texan unleashes on this barnburner.

8. My Everything - Ariana Grande
Despite her Twitter feud with Bette Midler and bratty persona that we'll chalk up to inexperience, Grande is a force to be reckoned with. Her boisterous pipes are right up there with Aguilera, and songs like Break Free and Problem are perfect ear-candy for those with a pop sweet tooth.

9. Ghost Stories - Coldplay
A less polished effort from Chris Martin and co. that took many by surprise. Magic is one of the group's finest singles.

10. Our Love - Caribou
Experimental, trippy, luscious electro-pop from the Canadian solo artist. Silver is a slow dance party all by itself.

SINGLES

1. Chandelier - Sia
Stunning all-around from the lyrics to the vocals, this Grammy nominee for Record and Song of the Year was inescapable. No matter how many times it was played, it stood head and shoulders above the pack in 2014.

2. West Coast - Lana Del Rey
When this leadoff cut from Del Rey's Ultraviolence CD switches tempos between the verse and chorus, it sounds almost like two completely different songs.

3. Shake It Off - Taylor Swift
With its infectious chorus, recurring horns, and danceable beat, how can anyone say no to this?

4. Red Eyes - The War on Drugs
Sounding a bit like a young Bob Dylan or early Tom Petty, this Philly alternative band's second single from Lost in the Dream is too good to resist.

5. Stay With Me - Sam Smith
Smith was 2014's true breakout artist and this stirring hit single is hugely responsible for that.

6. Come Get It Bae - Pharrell Williams
He wears a lot of hats, literally. But after many years doing everything from producing to designing clothes to guest vocals, Williams is most lethal when he's at the mic doing his own thing.

7. Yellow Flicker Beat - Lorde
Sure, that little number by Jennifer Lawrence for The Hunger Games is terrific. But this dramatic piece, from the same soundtrack, is even better.

8. My Silver Lining - First Aid Kit
Not quite as gorgeous as Emmylou, off their previous album, but this newer First Aid Kit single is still worthy of year-end kudos.

9. Hurt You - Toni Braxton & Babyface
This is what happens when two well-accredited R&B performers come together. A classy, smooth ballad about infidelity and forgiveness that just melted in my ears.

10. Lazaretto - Jack White
You never quite know what to expect from White, but chances are it'll blow you away. Case in point: this ditty.

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BEST OF MUSIC 2014: ALBUMS AND SINGLES
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BEST OF MUSIC 2014: HOTTEST ARTISTS OF THE YEAR
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Best of Music 2014: Featured Artist Interview - An SGN exclusive interview with Jason Mraz
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BEST OF MUSIC 2014: LIVE PERFORMANCES
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WORST MUSIC OF 2014
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Christmastown: A Holiday Noir is lots of fun!
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You make me feel so young, SSO
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The Heavy and The Light are excellent
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The GREATness continues with The Great Society
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2014 HOLIDAY CALENDAR
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Northwest News
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LETTERS
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Cryptically fascinating Imitation an intimate examination of self
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It's a hard-knock life for this reimagined Annie
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Been there, can't go back again
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