Another end of year, another chance to make best-of lists. I don’t even care if anyone reads them, it’s more of a personal hobby that goes nowhere–hey, if it makes me feel like a hot shot music critic (far from), what the hell? This is also not a statement as to “these are the absolute best of the year”–they’re my favorite albums. If I want to put One Direction ahead of some obscure indie pop standout, guess what? I will. It’s all about what kept me coming back for more. I think the Mona Lisa is great, but would I want that creepy woman lingering in my house? Hell to the no.
10. In the Lonely Hour / Sam Smith
I can relate to this album in more ways than one, which should actually make me rather depressed and bitter…but thankfully emotional eating exists. His voice is just too good to not be on any list.
9. LP1 / FKA Twigs
I don’t know where she came from, but Tahliah Barnett is the shit. My ears are forever grateful for these angelic-hypnotic- futuristic, slow night jams. Unlike Meghan Trainor, FKA Twigs is actually from England. (I went around for 4 months under the assumption Meghan Trainor was English.)
8. Queen of the Clouds / Tove Lo
I’ll admit it: I do not like “Habits (Stay High).” But I will tell you: there are plenty more gems to be unearthed on this post-breakup album. Brooding, high-energy pop will keep you danc-y and, um, frisky. The best part about the set is her candid and millennial-appropriate lyrics: “I’m not the prettiest you’ve ever seen, but I have my moments.”
7. Where It All Began / Dan + Shay
First, Dan + Shay are just über adorable. This whole album is like a ray of morning sunshine and it fills me with happiness. I’ve never been prone to country music but somewhere in the past 6 months I fell in some moonshine and I can’t get out. I just want to cuddle with them on some beach and eat gummy worms.
6. My Everything / Ariana Grande
2014 was all about Ms. Ariana Grande. Who knew that pink-haired weirdo I used to watch on Nickelodeon with my younger sister would sneak her way on to my iPod as a sultry tigress. I’ve never thoroughly enjoyed singing along to unrecognizable lyrics more until this came into my life. It’s retro, it’s sexy, it’s cool, it’s EVERYTHING. Ha…Ha…get it? I digress.
5. 1989 / Taylor Swift
For anyone who knows me well, they know how significant this is: a Taylor Swift album in any kind of association with my name. Yes, while I was not the biggest T-Swift fan for years, I have always been fair to say, “Good music is good music.” Well, Starbucks lovers (don’t argue with me on this one), James Dean eyes and rabbit holes made for some pretty killer jams. I love this new approach to music. I think it suits her well and I hope she sticks to it. Now I will never feel alone when sitting in my bed with tear-stained cheeks holding a butcher’s knife.
4. Four / One Direction
You knew it was coming. One Direction will forever give me life and I don’t care what musical merits you care about, they make me happy and act a fool and I’m completely okay with that. Their musicianship has matured though, to be fair. Four is not as folky as Midnight Memories, or as pop-y as Take Me Home…it’s…weird, but still good. If another “Tarzan” movie ever happens, “Ready to Run” HAS to be the theme song.
3. x / Ed Sheeran
Lawd, help me. This guy kills me. So simple, so unadorned, yet full of feels and life. I rarely like to be in a rainy day kinda mood, but I will for this album. I could do without the more urban tracks like “Sing,” but the other offerings are pure gold. If anyone can find the words like Ed Sheeran can, we would all be married and living happily ever after. A man, his guitar and a splash of insane musical wizardry makes this a must-have.
2. Aquarius / Tinashe
Just turn the lights out, throw this album on and cruise through the night–you won’t regret it. Tin-ash/Tin-ash-ay/Whatever gave us such a refreshing debut effort, opting to show her airy, raspy vocal prowess over ratchet bangers. At times I get these vague Aaliyah vibes, which is probably why I’m so drawn to her style.
1. Montevallo / Sam Hunt
If this is the future of country music, I. AM. DOWN. Sam Hunt is like the Drake of country, if that makes any sense. It’s a completely unique sound that had me hooked from the first time I heard “Break Up In A Small Town,” where Sam semi-raps his way into a booming chorus. His voice is also pure sex, not going to lie, especially on “Speakers,” which feels like “our” song for me and my non-existent lover. There are also some pop country tracks which are just as infectious. Bravo. Bravo, Sam. Marry me, please?