30 December 2014

My 2014 "The Hell With It! I Get To Make A List, Too!" List

Look, I know a lot of you don't come over the this blog much.  I don't post here much.  You probably are coming here because you saw a link over on Wicked Guilty Pleasures, my lovely music blog.  But I do a list like this most years.  And sometimes, I second-guess myself.  Actually, to open this year's list, I'm going to second guess last year's second guess.

Album of the Year, 2013 Edition - Lorde, Pure Heroine.  I totally didn't give this album a chance, mostly because Track #2 ("400 Lux") bored the hell out of me on first listen.  And second and third, too.  Those who know me well know that my favorite album of all time is House Tornado, the 1988 masterpiece by Throwing Muses.  My first reaction to that album was similar.   But I kept going back to it, over and over.  One by one, each song won me over.  And, as good as Sky Ferreira's Night Time, My Time was, and as much as I cannot deny the brilliance that was the woefully ignored True Romance by Charli XCX, Pure Heroine is the album I keep going back to.

I cannot give Pure Heroine my Best Album of 2013 I Didn't Hear Until 2014 award, because I did hear it.  I could give Lorde's EP The Love Club that award, but 1. it was an EP, so probably not fair (I retroactively grant it 2013 EP of the Year) and 2. it had freakin' Royals.  Too easy. 

Co-Album of the Year, 2014 - Iggy Azalea, The New Classic.  Not Reclassified (which is a fine album, but in my opinion, a reissue).  All the great singles that went unnoticed by Iggy over the past year, all together.  And then "Fancy" happened.  And they were no longer unnoticed.  Which is a good thing, because Iggy has a way with lyrics, and

Co-Album of the Year, 2014 - Angel Olsen, Burn Your Fire For No Witness.  Anyone who doesn't hear glimmers of Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville is either ignorant of that prior work or are just fooling themselves. This entire album, end-to-end, is heartfelt and brilliant. It is criminal that radio - even country radio - ignored this so whole-heartedly.

Albums of the Year, Honorable Mentions:
Charli XCX, Sucker (It was really good, but not as good as the ones above) (might have been up there if she had put "SuperLove" on there like she said she would last September)
Laura Cantrell, No Way There From Here (Simple country album by an artist who is shamefully overlooked)
RAC, Strangers.

Comeback of the Year - Bob Mould, Beauty and Ruin.  I Dü believe this reminds me of Hüsker days. In all seriousness, it was his best effort since Black Sheets of Rain.  He never really went away, but this album just seems like a comeback. True brilliance from a long time favorite.

Most Disappointing Album of the Year - Phantogram, Voices.  It was good, but overproduced.  It should have been great. I am glad this great band got some popular radio airplay.  I wish this would have been the magnum opus that was Eyelid Movies.  I don't want to give the impression that this was a bad album.  I just expected it to be great, and it wasn't.

Single of the Year -The Pierces, "Believe In Me".  Best known for doing the theme song for the TV series Pretty Little Liars, these two sisters released a new album this year.   This song was one I heard on the radio exactly once.  It was on a "new music" type show on NPR.  The harmonies on here are amazing, and it is far more upbeat than "Secrets" (the aforementioned theme song that was also a single of theirs). 

Single of the Year, International Edition - Fine, It's Pink, "Secret Island".  A really new Romanian band, I really hope they take off outside Romania, because they are darkly fantastic.

Single of the Year Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):
Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX, "Fancy" (two greats break through on one single)
Iggy Azalea feat. Rita Ora, "Black Widow"
Iggy Azalea feat. MØ, "Beg For It" (little known fact - Charli XCX co-wrote this song)
Rita Ora, "I Will Never Let You Down" (best thing Calvin Harris ever did)
Lorde, "Tennis Court" (Technically, a 2013 single that charted in the US in 2014.  Dark brilliance)
Tove Lo, "Habits (Stay High)" (Disturbing, but darkly clever)
Disclosure feat. Sam Smith, "Latch" (see "Habits (Stay High)")
Nicki Minaj, "Anaconda" (a sample so good Sir Mix-A-Lot loved it!)
Charli XCX, "Break The Rules" (after "Fancy" & "Boom Clap", a reminder of the depth of talent)
Charli XCX, "Breaking Up" (reminded me of an angrier version of The Waitresses)
Katy Perry, "Birthday" (the song we all forgot).
Jason Derulo, "Trumpets" (admit it - this was a damned clever song)

This next category is a first.  But it is the most deserved award on this whole list.

Worst Single of the Year - Jeremih, "Don't Tell 'Em".  An extremely lazy, very profane hip hop song that lifts its lyrics straight from the classic "Rhythm Is A Dancer" by Snap.  It's an abomination, and an insult to music.  And, when I say the performance was lazy, I mean it - there's no attempt to stay in tune.  And this was a HUGE hit.

Worst Single of the Year, Dishonorable Mentions:
Katy Perry, "This Is How We Do" (she phoned this one in, people. A rare miss)
Calvin Harris, "Summer" (indistinguishable from any other song he's ever performed)
Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj, "Bang Bang" (a lame attempt to blur lines)
Pharrell Williams, "Happy" (clap along if you cheered the week "Fancy" dethroned it)
Bebe Rexha, "I Can't Stop Drinking About You" (never heard it? Consider yourself lucky.  Rips off the aforemetioned "Habits" something fierce)

Artist of the Year - Iggy Azalea.  She owned the year.  And she deserved every bit of attention she got.  She's one of the good ones - she worked hard for what she got (see: "Work").  She lives a quiet life off-stage.  And she has done wonders for the careers of Charli XCX (who is a talented songwriter behind two of Iggy's hits, including the one on which she appears), Rita Ora (who has not been allowed to perform her own single), Ariana Grande, and MØ.  So yeah.  She earned this one. 

Best New Artist - Tove Lo. Surprised?  So was I.  I didn't like "Habits (Stay High)" at first.  But it's clever and sad and upbeat, all at the same time. And "Heroes" was so achingly beautiful, full of pain and despair, while keeping promise.  I think we'll hear great things in the years to come.

Best Album of 2013 That I Didn't Hear Until 2014 - Natalia Kills, Trouble. I had heard "Problem", her fantastic 2013 single, but I had not heard the whole album until this year. It's all good

Best Album of 2010 That I Didn't Really Hear Until 2014 - Marina and the Diamonds, The Family Jewels. Far far different than Electra Heart, it is a very personal affair about Marina's life as it was starting in the music industry.  I first heard it near the end of 2013, but really gave it a good listen in 2014.

What I Am Looking Forward To In 2015:
Froot, the new Marina and the Diamonds album.  It's already pretty much leaked, and it's fantastic.
The new Lorde album.  We've got to have something strong there, if "Yellow Flicker Beat" (her song from the movie The Hunger Games: Mockingjay) is any indication.

That's all I've got this year.  Let's hear what you have to say in the comments.