The 20 Best Albums, EPs & Singles Of 2014 (So Far): January – June Releases
5. SINGLE, Kiesza, “Hideaway”
Canadian songbird Kiesza gave house music something it was sorely lacking this past winter: a face to put with the beats, and a charming DIY “dancin’ in the streets” video shot in Brooklyn (all in one take!) that begged replay after replay. When we had her in to the Idolator studio this past March, it was her first on-camera interview ever. A month later, Kiesza was on top of the charts in the UK and across Europe. Radio on these shores is getting serviced with “Hideaway” this month…so get ready to dance, Yanks. — ROBBIE DAW
4. SINGLE: Sia, “Chandelier”
She’s written literally every song on pop radio in the past four years or so, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a tune or two of her own lying around. When Sia’s “Chandelier” came barreling along back in April, the world was at last treated to a taste of the omnipresent singer-songwriter’s own bittersweet medicine. The cautionary tale smartly toes the line between accessible Top 40 pop hooks and a very deep, depressing tale of substance abuse — something only someone with her talent could do. And the video, a one-take of Dance Moms‘ own Maddie Ziegler’s brilliantly bizarre dance routine (just one of the several things Sia’s done since to hide her face with the ongoing non-fame campaign of 1000 Forms Of Fear), has become her most iconic video to date. — BRADLEY STERN
3. SINGLE: Royksopp and Robyn, “Do It Again”
“We should not be friends,” Robyn sings slowly in “Do It Again,” as if she’d rather not admit it. The title track of the Scandi-dance acts’ joint mini-album, it all feels like part of a cruel joke – the glaringly bright synths, the walloping bass, Robyn’s hunger when she sings of anticipation (“You know it’s like mMMm mmm mmm”). With that confession, she invites in the slight dread that comes with dancing a bit longer, downing one too many shots and texting our exes yet again before the night ends. By the time “Do It Again” fades out, though, Robyn and Royksopp make it clear that if they were to think logically, they would have to stop the music. And no one wants that. — CHRISTINA LEE
2. ALBUM: Lana Del Rey, Ultraviolence
The art of a making a cohesive and uniformly excellent long-player felt lost in 2014 until Lana Del Rey dropped Ultraviolence. Her gloomy sophomore set was surrounded by controversy — promoting your already polarizing work by announcing that you wish you were dead will do that — but there’s no denying that it’s a unique listening experience.
A collection of short stories about desperate women set to hazy, lo-fi music, Ultraviolence showcases Lana’s growth as both a songwriter and vocalist. From “Shades Of Cool” (the best James Bond theme song that never was) to “Old Money,” which finds an elderly woman looking back on her life, the perennially depressed diva delivers song after song of depth and quality. The album takes a couple of listens to seep under your skin, but once it does, there’s no going back. — MIKE WASS
1. SINGLE: MNEK, “Every Little Word”
His name is Uzoechi Osisioma Emenike, or MNEK for short. After releasing his monstrous hit “Ready For Your Love” with British electro outfit Gorgon City in January, this 19-year-old East-Londoner is now gearing up for his debut solo album. But before the LP hits, MNEK decided to give the world a little taste of what’s in store via his single “Every Little Word.”
Reminiscent of ‘80s R&B/Pop with a twinge of ’90s house flavor, “Every Little Word” is one of those unique tracks that doesn’t take too long to become infectious. With MNEK’s soulful vocals and the song’s thumping beat, how could it not? A total game-changer for the pop scene, “Every Little Word” literally demands the question: “Do you f*ck to this shit?” The answer: We certainly do. — RACHEL SONIS
Get an eyeful of even more pop music coverage, from artist interviews to exclusive performances, on Idolator’s YouTube channel.