The Best Albums Of 2014 (According To The VH1 Crew)

It goes without saying that the music gods were extremely kind to us in 2014. Heck, we got a new album from D’Angelo from goodness sake! In addition to new offerings from pop powerhouses like Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, and Ed Sheeran, the year saw thrilling new artists emerge onto the scene. Sam Smith, Tove Lo, Iggy Azalea and more staked their claim alongside the more seasoned chart vets, releasing albums that are destined to become (*ahem*) new classics. VH1 staffers weighed in on their choices for the best records of the year, so read on to see their picks!

There was a three-way tie for 2014 Staff Favorite, with Sam Smith’s In The Lonely Hour, Hozier’s Hozier, and Jungle’s Jungle all appearing on four lists. Other albums with a strong showing include:

D’Angelo, Black Messiah (3 votes)
Tove Lo, Queen Of The Clouds (3 votes)
Taylor Swift, 1989 (2 votes)
Nicki Minaj, The Pinkprint (2 votes)
J. Cole, 2014 Forest Hills Drive (2 votes)
Jhene Aiko, Souled Out (2 votes)
FKA Twigs, LP1 (2 votes)

But enough about the stats— Let’s get to the music!



, Writer (@rah_li)

1. D’Angelo, Black Messiah
We’d given up on D’Angelo ever releasing another LP. Low and behold, he dropped Black Messiah at year’s end. The holiday season officially became funky as D mixed rock with soul. The album’s protest songs are also perfect for a new era of grassroots mobilization.

2. Thom Yorke, Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes
Without warning, Thom Yorke dropped a solo LP via BitTorrent in September. It didn’t get as much fanfare as say, Beyonce’s surprise album, but let’s remember that Radiohead eschewed traditional releases long before Bey. Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes is more cohesive than Yorke’s first solo effort, The Eraser. His falsetto is as haunting as ever.

3. Flying Lotus, You’re Dead
Fans weren’t expecting Flying Lotus to go instrumental, but the producer excelled when departing from his signature electronic sound. We were also caught off-guard by his collab with Kendrick Lamar, “Never Catch Me.” You’re Dead was the year’s most pleasant surprise.

4. Little Dragon, Nabuma Rubberband
Swedish electro soul band Little Dragon pushed their sound beyond categorization on Nabuma Rubberband. Yukimi Nagano’s light vocals offset minimally layered tracks, evoking optimism in a dystopian wasteland. There are hints of old school R&B, with touches that could’ve been from Janet Jackson or Prince.

5. Les Sins, Michael
Toro Y Moi, who killed it in 2013 with Anything In Return, released an album under his Les Sins moniker. His last LP threw back to synth R&B, but this year, he borrowed from the late `80s hip house movement. His production bounces between slick engineering and mixtape quality beats. Together, it’s impressive.

SANDY ALOUETE, SVP Talent & Music Programming

1. Ed Sheeran, X
2. Tove Lo, Queen Of The Clouds
3. Bleachers, Strange Desire
4. Hozier, Hozier
5. Taylor Swift, 1989

ISAAC AYERS, Music Supervisor (@isaacayers)

1. Sam Smith, In The Lonely Hour
2. Paolo Nutini, Caustic Love
3. Jessie Ware, Tough Love
4. La Roux, Trouble In Paradise
5. Tove Lo, Queen of The Clouds
6. Kelis, Food
7. Lykke Li, I Never Learn
8. JUNGLE, Jungle
9. Damien Rice, My Favorite Faded Fantasy
10. Lo-Fang, Blue Film

TOM CALDERONE, President (@tomcalderone)

1. The War on Drugs, Lost in the Dream
2. Alt J, This is All Yours
3. St Vincent, St Vincent
4. Royal Blood, Royal Blood
5. The Fat White Family, Champagne Holocast
6. Ingrid Michealson, Lights Out
7. Benjamin Booker, Benjamin Booker
8. Courtney Barnett, The Double EP: A Sea Of Split Peas
9. Jungle, Jungle
10. Warpaint, Warpaint
11. Spoon, They Want My Soul
12. Swans, To Be Kind
13. The Orwells, Disgraceland
14. The Foo Fighters, Sonic Highway

DIANE CHO, Writer (@dianecho)

1. J. Cole, 2014 Forest Hills Drive
2. Nicki Minaj, The Pinkprint
3. YG, My Krazy Life
4. Logic, Under Pressure
5. Jhene Aiko, Souled Out





WARREN COHEN, Vice President (@wjcohen)

1. Parquet Courts, Sunbathing Animal
I gorged on this angular staccaco gem so much that by summer, my Sonos just started playing it instantly when I logged in. I liked the pauses in their songs as much as the songs.

2. TV on The Radio, Seeds
America’s Radiohead’s first release after the death of their bassist maintained all of the band’s synthetic otherworldly charms.

3. The War on Drugs, Lost in The Dream
One of those records that feels found, like a relic.  Contemplative in the best of ways.

4. Sharon Van Etten, Are We There
Chill and spartan with megadose of mystery.

5. Fucked Up, Glass Boys
Screamo meets power pop in a unique broad roar.

TAYLOR FERBER, Writer (@taylorferber)

In The Lonely Hour by Sam Smith

Can we talk about how Sam Smith’s album dropped in May this year, and he’s already blown up to be a global star? Six Grammy nominations, people. SIX. This album is off-the-charts amazing, every song honest and relaxing or catchy in its own way. His voice is perfection and he’s just all-around, goddamn adorable. Some may say his songs reflect his sadness and/or need to get laid, but I think they’re beautiful so step the f–k off.

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