The 20 Best Albums, EPs & Singles Of 2014 (So Far): January – June Releases

Idolator Staff | July 4, 2014 6:45 am

15. SINGLE: Future, “Move That Dope” (featuring Pusha T and Pharrell)

Coalkitchen’s 1977 song “Keep On Pushin’,” as heard in Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It,” has never sounded as demented as it does in Future’s dank posse cut “Move That Dope.” While jump-started by Pusha T’s gleeful cackling, Mike WiLL Made-It’s revved-up loop of singer Pauli Carman, sharply exhaling, is what propels the brilliantly crazed verses that follow. It adds urgency to Future’s daily routine, Pusha’s pun-tastic taunting and Pharrell’s frantic pointing to drones in the sky. And it’s why the fourth single from Future’s long-delayed sophomore LP, Honest, became hip hop’s most thrilling joyride of this year. Too many rappers talk big of moving dope, but that sample is what turns listeners into fiends. — CHRISTINA LEE

14. SINGLE: Andy Bull — “Talk Too Much”

After dropping two of the best singles of 2013 with “Keep On Running” and “Baby I Am Nobody Now,” Australian singer/songwriter Andy Bull returned with the third single from imminent sophomore set Sea Of Approval and raised the bar even higher for sophisticated synth pop. Real instruments vie for space among the rubbery synths of “Talk Too Much”, which gives the track a warm, retro vibe that compliments his wonderfully peculiar voice perfectly. Andy’s album can’t drop soon enough. — MIKE WASS

13. ALBUM: Lykke Li, I Never Learn

Lykke Li I Never Learn

Lykke Li is in a very dark place — or, at least, she was when her latest studio album was being recorded. Every track on the new record is a break-up ballad, or some devastatingly emotional moment of anguish. And while it sounds like a complete and utter sob-fest while being described (it is!), the songs are truly spectacularly crafted, full of classic, soaring pop hooks, recalling Fleetwood Mac and Florence + The Machine. In a way, it’s like a sad, Swedish version of Adele’s 21, with enough grit and lo-fi textures to appeal to the indie crowd and enough melodies to keep the pop listener hooked. As far as break-up records go, it’ll be difficult to best Lykke’s triumph this year. (But someone please go take her out for ice cream or something, okay?) — BRADLEY STERN

12. EP: Betty Who, Slow Dancing

Betty Who Slow Dancing EP

For those of you who don’t yet know Betty Who, we suggest you get acquainted fast. Grabbing everyone’s attention after the release of her playful pop tune “Somebody Loves You” and teaming up with producer Peter Thomas on track, “All of You,” Betty Who (real name Jess Newham) released major label EP, Slow Dancing, this year, which is guaranteed to fulfill everyone’s wildest dream-pop desires. From wistful numbers like “Lovin’ Start” and “Silas” to the anthemic “Heartbreak Dream,” Slow Dancing is full of free-spirited bops. So, watch out Demi and Miley, a new pop princess has arrived, and, by the looks of it, she’s here to stay. — RACHEL SONIS

11. ALBUM: Mariah Carey, Me. I Am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse

Oh yes, it was messy as hell: From the is-it-or-isn’t-it-a-single songs that kept dropping weeks and months and years before, to the botched, sort-of-“surprise” release of the record, to the oh, so very Mariah Carey album title, Me. I Am Mariah should have, in theory, been awful. But it’s not at all — it’s actually one of the best albums of the year, by far. Perhaps because of her lack of #phucks to give about running a tight album campaign or a need to appeal to contemporary sounds, Mimi crafted a true timeless R&B record, complete with warm, feel-good throwbacks to the late ’80s and early ’90s, disco-lite anthems, power ballads and spiritual hymns. And yes, even a little bit of the Instagram-shading “Thirsty” for all the haters. It’s #Beautiful, no matter what they say. — BRADLEY STERN