It is hard to believe, but the world is only four months away from 2015. Just as the days seem to fly by, many music releases have come and gone. Some were released to a high level of fanfare, while others barely made an impact and were quickly forgotten. On top of that, with a bit of time to go before the year ends, there are other music artists who have some hotly anticipated releases. Here are nine albums released in 2014 that were hits, misses or are expected to be huge releases.
5 Seconds of Summer by 5 Seconds of Summer (released July 22, 2014)
Just a year ago, Australian pop rockers 5 Seconds of Summer were the opening act for another young group, One Direction. Fast forward to today and once again, the boys known affectionately as 5SOS are still in the same position, at least tour-wise (they were personally invited by One Direction to be a part of their ongoing Where We Are tour). However, they are doing pretty well themselves, thanks to the album that includes melodic earworms such as She Looks So Perfect and their current ballad, Amnesia. Their hard work seems to be paying off. Initially known as a YouTube cover band, they now hold a Billboard record for having the biggest debut album sales from a group.
In The Lonely Hour by Sam Smith (released June 17, 2014)
No one knew about the soulful sounds of England-born Smith, but now that he is here, it has become evident that he is not going anywhere anytime soon. With his angelic voice, heart-tugging lyrics and a bravery that not many young artists possess, the openly gay 22-year-old crossed over the pond and broke through radio (and stereotypes) with songs like Leave Your Lover and Stay With Me. Even music royalty has given him praise: legendary R&B queen Mary J. Blige loaned her vocals to a re-recorded version of Stay With Me for a proper American debut.
The New Classic by Iggy Azalea (released April 22, 2014)
She may be in the headlines more often for a feud with fellow rapstress Nicki Minaj (more on her later), than for her music, but you cannot deny that the blonde Australian beauty is tearing up the charts. Changing the face of hip-hop once more, the woman born Amethyst Amelia Kelly achieved crossover success with her made-for-summer jam Fancy and her newest single, the Rita Ora-assisted Black Widow. In order to understand just how huge the pop label is for Azalea, keep in mind that Black Widow was originally recorded by another huge hit maker, Katy Perry.
A.K.A. by Jennifer Lopez (released June 13, 2014)
It is really hard to tell just where exactly J. Lo’s tenth album went wrong. The first offerings, I Luh Ya Papi and First Love, were almost instant in their popularity. Lopez promised greatness from the album and unfortunately, she failed to fully deliver. There were some shining moments on A.K.A. such as the twerk-worthy Booty, but how many more Pitbull collaborations can the world take? In her defense, she can and will bounce back from this. She even admits that one weak album will not break her. “You’re in it for a marathon,” she stated in June. “It’s not about a sprint.”
Me. I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse by Mariah Carey (released May 27, 2014)
Yes, the title is absolutely ridiculous. However, when it comes to the grand diva who ruled the music charts in the 1990s, it kind of comes with the territory. Something else that used to tag along was immediate success. After countless delays and title changes, Mimi’s fourteenth studio album finally dropped this year. While fans were quick to grasp onto tracks like Thirsty and #Beautiful (yes, the use of a hashtag is just as ridiculous), critics and sales were not as kind to her. In fact, the album would completely drop from the Billboard charts only eight weeks after its initial release. Ouch.
Pulses by Karmin (released March 25, 2014)
Like 5 Seconds of Summer, the Boston-based duo of Karmin gained notoriety for their unique takes on current pop hits via YouTube. It was through those videos that the engaged twosome, Nick Noonan and Amy Heidemann, were signed to a record deal in 2011. What should have been the start of something amazing immediately began to turn sour. Their debut EP, 2012’s Hello, was pretty much ignored (saved for one minor radio hit with Brokenhearted) and their full album debut two years later was called out as being a water-downed version of what originally made them so special. The fun Acapella gained slight traction, but their follow-up, I Want It All, was something no one actually… well, wanted. The album did chart at a modest number 46 in April. Unfortunately, it charted in Australia.
The Pink Print by Nicki Minaj (to be released later in 2014)
The first female of Young Money Entertainment, Nicki Minaj, has a lot to prove with her upcoming third studio album. With certain rap aficionados attacking her for being too pop oriented, the Trinidadian beauty promised to return to her hip-hop origins. However, she may have had a change of heart. While the first release from the disc, the controversial Lookin’ A** was definitely more intense, follow up releases Pills N Potions and Anaconda have definitely stepped back into the more lighthearted side of the talented young woman. If the girl is making hits, who cares what kind of genre it falls into? Perhaps everyone should just hope that she can keep the momentum going.
My Everything by Ariana Grande (to be released August 22, 2014)
Ariana Grande is at an interesting crossroads in her career. Although her 2012 debut, Yours Truly, opened up at the top of the charts, she is almost coming in as a new artist for her second release. For starters, her fallback career as an actress is currently on hold with the cancellation of her Nickelodeon show, Sam & Cat. Secondly, while Yours Truly mostly borrowed from music sounds of the past, the first release from My Everything, the collaborative Problem with Iggy Azalea, pushes the 21-year old into more of a current pop trend. She even toyed a bit with the EDM takeover in pop music with her second single, Break Free. With so many changes in her wake, will the phenom be able to strike gold twice?
Untitled Fourth Album by One Direction (to be released later in 2014)
People seem to keep expecting the other shoe to drop for One Direction, but it never actually happens. The Brit-Irish fivesome were recently named as the world’s best-selling artists. Their 2013 album, Midnight Memories, changed the opinions of fans and non-fans alike with a more rock-based sound that brought the group from strictly pop to fully respected musicians. Their upcoming fifth album is already being seen as the one to beat, even without word of a proper single release. Simon Cowell, who helped put the group together on the UK version of X-Factor in 2010, recently gave them a fair warning: with new groups like 5 Seconds of Summer hot on their heels, the boys of 1D are going to “have to up their game a bit.”
Opinion by Jonathan Brown