40. Betty Who – Take Me When You Go
Sia isn’t the only Australian vocal powerhouse that’s made waves in 2014. Betty Who’s critically-acclaimed debut album has garnered her a huge stateside fanbase built off her two hit singles “Heartbreak Dream” and “Somebody Loves You”.
39. Foxes – Glorious
There’s been about two years’ worth of singles from Foxes’ debut album ‘Glorious’, but quite a bit of the new material is worth the wait. Most international magazines gave her five out of five stars, but American publications weren’t nearly as generous.
38. Big K.R.I.T. – Cadillactica
Despite its impressiveness, there’s still a bit of a sophomore slump with K.R.I.T.’s ‘Cadillactica’. The rapper produced his debut album entirely by himself, but relied on a few mainstream producers (DJ Dahi, Raphael Saadiq, and Alex Da Kid) for his latest.
37. Kelis – Food
The “Milkshake” singer took a huge risk by giving her style a 180 on her sixth studio album ‘Food’. Instead of usual collaborators Pharrell and will.i.am, ‘Food’ is completely produced by one person who happens to be one of my favorite songwriters – Dave Sitek of ‘TV On The Radio’.
36. Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!
As the follow-up to the Erykah Badu-assisted ‘Until The Quiet Comes’, the experimental Flying Lotus wows again on his fifth studio album. The first single features a surprising vocal from Grammy-nominated rapper Kendrick Lamar.
35. Little Dragon – Nabuma Rubberband
Nearly everyone I’ve played Little Dragon for has mistaken lead singer Yukimi Nagano’s vocals with Janet Jackson. Epic comparisons aside, the band earned their first Grammy nomination ever with their fourth album ‘Nabuma Rubberband’.
34. Skrillex – Recess
Skrillex is already a six-time Grammy winner, winning three each from his last two Eps (‘Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites’ and ‘Bangarang’). On his first full-length release ‘Recess’, the producer explores new sounds and collaborators.
33. Michelle Williams – Journey To Freedom
Although she experimented with more urban contemporary gospel, Michelle’s latest is her first time that sisters Kelly and Bey’ worked with her on an original song. Michelle also worked with Harmony Samuels for the entire project – his second time doing so with a female singer (see Fantasia’s ‘The Side Effects Of You’).
32. Liz – Just Like You (EP)
Liz’s bio says that she “channels a mixture of throwback Brandy, Mariah Carey, and Destiny’s Child” and that’s exactly how I feel about her first EP ‘Just Like You’. It’s more of a late-90s, early 2000s vibe, but the nostalgic traditional sound translates well over some of the best Mad Decent beats this year.
31. Black Milk – If There’s A Hell Below
The latest from indie hip-hop star Black Milk is one of his best to date. His storytelling abilities are especially highlighted on songs like “Quarter Water” and “Hell Below”.