Okay, deep breaths, it's fine - we're making up for it this year with albums and songs and all is well.
As per tradition, I didn't get to hear most of this until the past few days. The disclaimer is basically as expected - there's a TON on my written-out list of possibilities that I didn't get to hear, and may very well deserve a spot on this list. However, you've got to go with what hits you right and moves you best, and these albums broke through the chaos to invade these ears.
Can we also take a moment to reflect on surprise album releases? JoJo, Mya, Presidents of the United States, Kylie Minogue, Natalie Merchant, and The Offspring all put out new full lengths this year, and I am slightly in shock. Yet, gotta admit, it's good to know people are sticking to it and creating. It's more than I can say, so kudos to them all.
And now, with that nod, let's hit the Honorable Mentions first. Because I'm an indecisive jerk, here's 15 of them in artist alphabetical order:
10. Hozier - Hozier
For one of this years biggest artists, we're delivered a really interesting album - and I mean that all in the best way possible. "Take Me To Church" is an incredibly unique song, and the album completely lives up to the expectations the song has set.
While I stilll don't completely understand everything Hozier is dishing out, I like the attempts a lot, and it keeps me interested in what's happening next. I think this is not only a contender for the Best New Artist of 2014 category, but a refreshing turn for music in general that we can all appreciate on some level.
9. Jack White - Lazaretto
Okay, admittedly, this is one of those "must go on list even if it's just based on a very quick brush-by listen" album. Too much respect for Jack White goes into the decision. He gets a pass.
Plus, the quick overview of the album proves that, musically, this is just as good as anything else he's ever done. It's the same Jack sound of the previous years, with an addictive-ly strange sound that just gets your feet going. While I hate over-hyping absolutely anyone, I get it in this case, and will always and forever be a proud fan and supporter.
8. Original Broadway Cast - Hedwig and the Angry Inch
I swear I'm not just posting this to see Neil Patrick Harris lick glitter from his lips once again.
This is legitimately a wonderful re-recording with the new cast, and Neil did not disappoint on stage either. The energy of the live show absolutely shines through on this album in every way. It's a pleasure to relive this insanity. The show deserved everything this year, and rightfully sits as one of the best soundtracks in quite some time.
7. Various Artists - Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix, Vol. 1
I don't know if this is fair, given that there's not really any original new music on this album. However, props and points to the compilers for creating a literally awesome mix. Every song on here fits so well, and I haven't even seen the movie itself yet.
Now, I don't know that releasing a cassette version was necessarily smart - not many people have the means to even play it. But, good job on the clever side of things!
6. Rachele Lynae - Rachele Lynae
Shameless friend promotion? Maybe a little.
But in all seriousness, this girl put out one of the albums that I could not keep out of my stereo this year. It's a rocking mix of new country tunes, and I've been told by everyone who's listened to it that they've found at least one song they love on it - with every answer being different, there's really something for everyone.
I stand by this being a collection of great music, and one of the best things to come out this year by far.
5. Eric Church - The Outsiders
Eric Church gives a nice throwback sound to country music without getting too hokey. He maintains a great edge to everything he writes, and keeps so much of it relatable while using very personal lyrics. Basically, what I'm saying it, Eric Church could very well be the king of rock country right now and no one realizes it.
If I could just kick back and drive down a dusty road, this is the only soundtrack that I would need. Living in a city kind of kills that hope, but at least sitting behind the computer I can imagine and hope for it.
4. OneRepublic - Native
Every time I heard a new song from this album this year, I fell in love even more. OneRepublic has basically ruled my Pandora this year, and it's been awesome. The lyrics and musical compositions have been off the charts. I think I'm maybe only lost on 3-4 songs looking down the track list - I can sing every other one of them to myself without prompting of the music itself.
OneRepublic is making a big impact on music, even if they're not necessarily getting the crazy recognition some others are receiving.
3. Miranda Lambert - Platinum
Come on, y'all know Miranda can do absolutely no wrong in my eyes. She's a powerhouse singer who is at a point where she can put everything from a silly hokey back woods track to a hard-hitting rock song to a tune that'll sweetly bring you back to your roots and what matters in the world on one album. Don't believe me? Seriously, take a listen. It's a wide-ranging mix of songs, but at the end of it they all make sense together.
An equivalent in country as Beyonce is in R&B (okay, I may be exaggerating, but cut me some slack). Miranda Lambert continues this year to bypass her competition by miles.
2. Ed Sheeran - X
Did you know that the actual title of this is "Multiply"? I had no idea until reading something about it. I think in Billboard. Somewhere.
Songs on here have grown on me steadily over the year, with many of the listening moments coming out of my newfound love for my Ed Sheeran pandora station. Yes, "Thinking Out Loud" dominated my plays on Spotify, but even the random snippets throughout the album were worthwhile.
A sophomore album is always tough, but I love that the sound is steady. Ed's first set of singles from "+" ("Plus") were soft, but the other tracks had an incredible reggae feel and fun sound. This time, he hit the world with that hidden sound right out of the box with the first two singles, but reminded us just how lovely a scruffy hairs ginger he is with the latest one.
1. Meghan Trainor - Title (EP)
Before you yell at me, trust me, it was a tough decision to place an EP at the top, above all of these full lengths... but every single song on this is an absolute winner, and I feel like the upcoming full length that will be released in a couple of weeks will live up to that standard.
Meghan burst onto the scene with the song that made us all feel damn good about ourselves and our bodies, and she's got an empowering collection here. She's a girl who's speaking to all girls now in the same way Katy Perry did with "One of the Boys," and it's been too long since then. I admire her lyrics, and can't help but bop to her beats. Her songs have been on many a playlist this year, and this set of tracks deserves the top spot for it.