The 30 Best Albums of 2014

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rirhe musical trends of 2014 felt so obvious in the moment: DJ Mustard beats, technophobia, strong female pop duets dominating the charts, polarizing booty-love anthems, a house music revival for the masses, LGBT voices making space for themselves, politicized music that sounded particularly relevant post-Ferguson. But when we look back at 2014, I’m not sure we’ll remember all that. It would be easy to say, “2014 was the year Beyoncé went full feminist, Nicki went borderline misandrist, and Taylor went ‘pop,’ though she’s been it for years,” but that’s just not the whole story.

With that in mind, we tried to tell the whole story in our ranking of the year’s 30 best albums. Some staff favorites — things you may not have heard — are given weight alongside albums that quintessentially capture 2014. — Jillian Mapes

Related: 124 Songs You Need to Hear Before 2014 Ends