The 14 Best Pop EPs Released In 2014
9. Niykee Heaton, Bad IntentionsReleased: September 23 The old adage about not judging a book by its cover is particularly relevant when it comes to Niykee Heaton. So what if the gorgeous 19-year-old spends her days posting semi-nudes on Instagram? (You would too if you looked like her!) That doesn’t make the budding diva’s debut EP any less impressive. It just makes her completely awesome.
Bad Intentions confidently showcases the versatility and scope of Niykee’s songwriting. She jumps from the gut-wrenchingly confessional “Sober” — a track she penned about her dad’s struggle with alcoholism — to upbeat club-bangers like “Villa” with ease. “Rolling Stone,” the best track on the EP, is a country/folk-tinged anthem that finds the rising star in a particularly contemplative mood. If Lana Del Rey ever records a bluegrass album it might sound a little something like this. All Niykee needs to make the leap from social media celebrity to break-out pop star is a radio hit. — MIKE WASS
8. Movement, Movement EPReleased: May 2 The energetic jolt of pop music is always exciting, but sometimes you just need a break to mellow out. That is where Movement’s self-titled debut EP comes into play. The Sydney trio combines velvety vocals courtesy of Lewis Wade with shadowy rhythms that create a sensual vibe. Their EP blurs the line between dance and R&B, and plays with warm and cold elements with its production. The EP fits alongside artists like The xx and The Weekend, which comes as no surprise as the latter’s right-hand man Illangelo helped with mixing it.
“Like Lust” is an atmospheric downtempo that manages to saunter its way to your core, while the echoey lead single “Us” swims through the murkiest of waters. Movement even got an approval nod from fellow alt-R&B artist BANKS, who invited the group to be her opening act on her recently-wrapped Goddess Tour. If their debut EP is any indication, Movement is no doubt one to watch for 2015. — BIANCA GRACIE
7. GRL, GRL EPReleased: July 29 GRL suffered a tragic and devastating loss this year. That being said, it’s still worth noting the incredible promise of this up-and-coming girl group. After nearly a year-and-a-half of preparation, the hard-working troupe dropped their self-titled EP this summer, including their storming hit, “Ugly Heart.” With top pop production by Dr. Luke, Cirkut and Max Martin, the girls supply anthem after anthem on the underrated collection, including the rowdy, rock-laced “Don’t Talk About Love” and their unbelievably catchy ’90s-tinged throwback, “Rewind.” While the state of the group remains entirely uncertain at this time, their music should still be remembered as one of the year’s better pop offerings. — BRADLEY STERN
6. Little Boots, Business PleasureReleased: December 2 Little Boots’ music has always exuded the silvery sheen you’d expect from an electro-pop DJ, but on Business Pleasure, Victoria Hesketh chiseled down the club-friendly hooks and choruses into a crystalline shard, with sneering lyrics piercing through it all like an ice pick.
There’s no filler on this four-track release; whether it’s the tumbling single “Taste It,” the sleek house of “Heroine” or the Soviet synth strobe of the title track, Little Boots glides along like some elegantly disinterested Debbie Harry descendant, and it (pant)suits her well. — CARL WILLIOTT
5. Grace Mitchell, Design
Released: October 14 Grace Mitchell is the epitome of a “One To Watch” candidate: Armed with a poetic writing style and gorgeous, moody production value, the 16-year-old songstress is already bursting with potential, and could very well be the American answer to Lorde.
Her debut EP, Design, is a rich and introspective collection full of complicated feelings and sweeping pop melodies with a left-leaning indie-rock sensibility. The fact that the young songwriter is coming out of the gate with such emotional depth on tracks like “Broken Over You” or “Your Design” proves that she’s got plenty to offer, still — and we’re incredibly excited to see what she does next. — BRADLEY STERN