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

Idolator Staff | July 4, 2014 6:45 am

10. ALBUM: Clean Bandit, New Eyes

When we posted our chat with UK dance act Clean Bandit recently, we noted that the quartet’s debut LP New Eyes is packed with enough dancefloor fodder and featured vocalists — many of them brand new talents — to give the group’s contemporaries like Rudimental and Disclosure some stiff competition. Those aren’t words we throw around lightly, and with the band giving dance music a classical-music twist — and racking up global hits like the smash hit “Rather Be” and its follow-up, “Extraordinary” — they’ve gone a long way toward making themselves stand out among the current crop of ’90s house revivalists. — ROBBIE DAW

9. SINGLE: Beyonce, “Partition”

Nobody expected Beyonce to drop possibly the most ratchet single of 2014, but “Partition” conquered urban radio and gay bars with its slinky beats and instantly quotable, jaw-dropping lyrics. Being bad never sounded so good. — MIKE WASS

8. SINGLE: Sky Ferreira, “I Blame Myself”

Once, when she was 10 years old, Sky Ferreira stopped talking. In conversation, she can recall this giddily, as if it was a conscious decision to disengage with our dumb world. In the Sixteen Candles-worthy “I Blame Myself,” though, that memory causes Ferreira to trail off, as if feeling defeated (“I feel like nothing’s really changed, now I’m just a little older”), only to lunge and raise her voice for that defensive yet defiant hook. Whether she’s conceding to detractors or scowling in their direction, blaming herself for her reputation or otherwise, Ferreira also ensures that she will never be silenced again. — CHRISTINA LEE

7. ALBUM: Ed Sheeran, x

After the release of his first single “Sing” from his highly-anticipated sophomore effort back in April, it was clear that Ed Sheeran was headed in a different direction from his usual acoustic, love-struck self. Funky, upbeat and slightly JT-esque, “Sing” showed that Ed was exploring new genres of music for his upcoming record. While a slightly risky move, it seems to have totally paid off.

Easily becoming one of the highest-selling albums of the year, x breaks new ground for Ed with soulful jams like “Runaway” and “Thinking Out Loud.” And looking back on his “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You” days, it seems only natural that Ed channelled his inner rapper with tracks such as “Take It Back” and “The Man.” While “Photograph” and “Tenerife Sea” remind listeners of the Ed that once was, “Don’t” is the clear standout number. Produced by beat maker legends Rick Rubin and Benny Blanco, the track shows a more relentless, confident Ed, leaving us with yet another solid, refreshing new collection of tunes from everyone’s favorite UK ginger. — RACHEL SONIS

6. SINGLE: Route 94, “My Love” (featuring Jess Glynne)

Take Jess Glynne, who also featured on Clean Bandit’s UK dance-pop behemoth “Rather Be,” add a haunting and sexy house groove and mix it all with one of the most temperature-raising videos of the year, and you get this glorious single. America, it’s time for you to catch on to “My Love” and make it an anthem here, much like it’s already become overseas, already. — ROBBIE DAW