2014 is a year that will be remembered as tumultuous, in everything from weather to politics. Polar vortices, Ferguson, Crimea, midterm elections, Ebola, NFL misconduct, drought, et al. Eek. Yet the most purchased, played and streamed songs of the year were "Happy," "Let It Go" and "Shake It Off." This is probably not a coincidence.
Even the Billboard charts saw radical change. As of December 3, the Billboard 200 album chart now counts 1,500 song streams as equal to one album sale. Selling 10 digital tracks from a record (even just one single selling 10 times) also equates to one album sale. The album is finally irrelevent.
And yet we still turn to the LP, and not merely for escape. For the first time, all of Time Out North America collaborated on this best albums of 2014 list. While there was not much consensus (outside of Todd Terje), our favorite records reflected our mercurial tastes and moods, ranging from the romantic to the political. If there's a common thread amid this mish-mash of hip-hop, brokenhearted folk, dance club jams and nostalgic pop, it's that each feels deeply personal.
What did you think were the best albums of 2014? Tell us in the comments below.
P.S. Black Messiah dropped after this article went live. Read our thoughts on the D'Angelo bombshell here.
RECOMMENDED: Best of 2014