Top 5 albums of 2014
by Ashley Dingess
Working in radio requires me to be up to date with all things music. While I do social media, the majority of my job (and my passion) is based on album releases, leaked tracks, artist collaborations and more. My every day is wrapped around what promotions, events and blogs I can do to attract our audience to the music brand we provide. This year I discovered some new artists and found one of my all time favorite albums to date. I wrote about the top 5 album releases of the year hoping you might find a new music obsession or feel good track. Enjoy!
This was a breakout album for Donald Glover AKA Childish Gambino. His first album Camp was amazing, don’t get me wrong, but with Because the Internet, Gambino really developed into the artist he is. My favorite track off the album is “Worldstar” — the best part of this song is the lyrics “Don’t be mad, ‘cuz I’m doing me better than You’re doing you”. His whole album is based off of how obsessed we are with the Internet, how so many people judge, base things off of and resort to the Internet for information. Also, my station Power 106 is featured on “Telegraph Ave” (“Oakland”).
This album, my oh my! I had this on repeat for the first 3 weeks it was out. Ariana Grande will be one of those artists that last for the long run. The thing I love about this album is it hits all sorts of fans. She has rap, hip hop, pop, ballads, EDM… you name it. Features include Childish Gambino, The Weeknd, David Guetta, Harry Styles… and more! My favorite track is “One Last Time” — the song is about giving a hard relationship one last effort (something we can all relate to) and just explaining that you literally gave all you could, but will be trying one last time. It has a Jamaican, calypso type of feel and just sounds different. This album reminds me of how I felt when Britney Spears self-titled came out. It just fit in with my pop culture type of life and had such different types of songs on it that it didn’t get old for me. If you’re a pop music fan, give this album a listen.
3) Chris Brown – X
I am a huge Chris Brown fan and have been since the beginning of his career. I get a lot of crap for it too considering his past, but I believe that people change and artists can grow and with this album, Brown did just that. This year I had the opportunity to meet Chris three times and talk with him about this project. X is the type of album that makes you feel and that is relatable. With tracks called “Drunk Texting” (which we all do and just don’t admit), “Autumn Leaves” (featuring Kendrick Lamar and is about Brown’s past, changing like the leaves do with the seasons) and “Time for Love” (which is about being ready to be in love), this album can tug your emotions like a sad puppy commercial. It’s not all emotional however — his radio hit “Loyal” which literally took over every single Urban and pop station this year was about how these “Hoes ain’t loyal” — basically calling out women who use rappers/artists for their money and connections. I have 2 favorite tracks on this album: 1) “Came To Do” – it’s a song that shows a woman how much a man cares, how he is a man of his word and how he wants to take care of business. He played it at Power 106 Cali Christmas and it was just perfection; 2) “Do Better” featuring Brandy. I grew up listening to Brandy so when I found out she was featured on this I got really excited. This track is about wanting to do better for the one that you love. If you’re not a Chris Brown fan, but want to dabble with his jams, pick this album up. It’s really good.
G-Eazy has been around for a while, but this was really his year to shine. The Bay Area native, who is extremely talented and handsome (Good Lord, he is beautiful!) had his breakout hit “I Mean It” earlier this year and just blew up. His album is so diverse and different. I love rap and hip hop, and G-Eazy for me is one of those rappers that is extremely honest and vulnerable. This whole album is explaining how his life has changed since he has been touring endlessly and working incredibly hard, and the toll it takes on someone. He isn’t afraid to rap about how he has misses out on family events, sleeps with girls in every town, and graphically explains the parties and lifestyle that comes with this life. I interviewed him for Power 106, and he discussed his upbringing, how he has never owned a car because he didn’t have the money, and how he started out flipping hot dogs while trying to sneak mix tapes into people’s hands. I hear the emotion and story from his life on the album, and many of his songs open with a sultry beat and melody or a chorus that really tugs at your heartstrings. One of my favorite tracks is called “Opportunity Costs” — it is about how when you live this life of being on tour and hustling for your dream, you have to sacrifice more than you often want. In the song there is a voicemail from his mother, telling him how proud she is and that she understands why he needs to be on the road, living his dreams — it’s beautiful. Overall this album has it all: great hooks, emotion, a little raunchiness and good beats. If you’re a hip hop fan, you’ll dig it.
1) Chromeo – White Women
By far the most anticipated album for me this year. I remember falling in love with Chromeo and their unique sound while skipping through my friend’s iPod in college, been hooked ever since. Chromeo is all time feel good music; it makes you move, feel, experience. These guys take you into their story with every sound and you get lost. White Women is their 4th studio album and by far the most sophisticated. It has features from Solange Knowles, Ezra Koenig and Toro y Moi. “Come Alive” is an upbeat song that is easy to dance to with a positive message of just letting go and letting life happen. “Lost on the Way Home” is a sultry track with some great vocals by Solange that is about being friends with benefits and having it all get screwed up. “Old 45s” is an easy listening and melodic track that explains how bonding over music can help bring you back together. Nothing better than an album that offers great lyrics, all sorts of upbeat, sexy and diverse tunes and also makes you want to dance!Tags: Ariana Grande, Ashley Dingess, Because the Internet (album), Childish Gambino, Chris Brown, Chromeo, G-Eazy, Music, My Everything (album), Power 106, These Things Happen (album), White Women (album), X (album)