23 Albums That Should Have Gone Platinum In 2014

Taylor Swift isn't the only artist whose work deserved to sell millions.

Taylor Swift's 1989 made major waves upon its October release, partially because it became the first platinum-selling album released in 2014. We know that high sales numbers aren't always indicative of an album's artistic merit, but it's still a pretty impressive feat -- and in our dream world, these 23 LPs, EPs and mixtapes (listed in no particular order) would have also sold at least a million copies this year.

Lykke Li, I Never Learn


No one else this year captured the universal angst, heartache and frustration of love and loss quite like Lykke Li. I Never Learn is a brooding, tightly structured examination of how and why we love, and it's an instant classic in the post-breakup canon. -- Britt Julious

Azealia Banks, Broke With Expensive Taste


Azealia Banks' debut album isn't just an achievement for her -- it's an achievement for the entire industry. Broke With Expensive Taste, which the 23-year-old New Yorker dropped with little warning following her split from Interscope, both tests the limits of hip-hop while also presenting a vision of what music could sound like in an increasingly genre-blurred age. If you want to overlook all that because of her Twitter presence, that's on you. -- John Walker

FKA twigs, LP1


FKA twigs' stunning debut, LP1, should have been nominated for all the Grammys and sold all the copies. There should be no copies left. Zero. Twigs is a starkly interesting new addition to the the indie/R&B/choir/whatever-kind-of-music-she-makes world. -- Brenna Ehrlich

Bleachers, Strange Desire


Bleachers’ debut album, Strange Desire, felt like Mark Knopfler and Billy Joel finally copped to having a musical genius love child — a musical genius love child named Jack Antonoff. -- Tamar Anitai

Sam Hunt, Montevallo


Even if you don't consider yourself a traditional country music fan, you'll probably find something to love on Sam Hunt's debut album, Montevallo. He tells stories about heartache, house parties and late-night escapades that keep him firmly in the country tradition, but his songs also incorporate poppy sing-along choruses, EDM drops and R&B hooks. "Raised On It" celebrates small-town life, without pandering back to the "good old days," making this a country record that celebrates being alive right now. Although his success is mostly limited to the country charts, Hunt is destined for mainstream success -- stay ahead of the curve by copping Montevallo right now and blasting "House Party" until even your roommates start dancing. -- Caitlin White

Mykki Blanco, Gay Dog Food


Mykki Blanco's got me eating that Gay Dog Food like I'm Cristal Connors or Nomi Malone. The mixtape finds him hosting a plane-ripping salon with Cakes Da Killa ("A Minute With Cakes"), stomping your brain into a fully conscious pulp with Cities Aviv ("Moshin In The Front") and teaming up with Kathleen Hanna to liberate her from the "archive of the archive" critics and listeners have confined her to ("A Moment With Kathleen"). It is everything. Trust me. Just f--king eat it. -- JW

J. Cole, 2014 Forest Hills Drive


J. Cole's 2014 Forest Hills Drive was like a Christmas present that arrived in the nick of time. There was no radio single to spoil the surprise, and the 13-track album we opened up was thankfully not a lump of coal. It was still hot, of course, providing one of the best rap albums of the year. All you have to do is listen to the storyline of success, its temptations and its lessons. Cole's journey on Forest Hills, from his first sexual encounter to his days of wanting to be a drug dealer, helps us see just what Cole was like coming up. Songs like "Love Yourz" and "Apparently" give us a clear view of who he is now. -- Andres Tardio

Clean Bandit, New Eyes


Clean Bandit’s New Eyes -- especially “Extraordinary” -- basically took me out of my body every time I played it, which was exactly all of the time. -- TA

Jessie Ware, Tough Love


Jessie Ware's Tough Love hits all chambers of the heart for me. I've already dedicated "You & I (Forever)" to my future husband, whoever that ends up being, and my favorite track has changed countless times. Her sophomore album will appeal to anyone with a heart, whether it's broken, repairing itself or full of love. Jessie's style emulates chill, early '90s R&B vibes (think Sade), and she never pushes her mezzo-soprano range too hard. While Tough Love is a favorite of Ed Sheeran's and Sam Smith's, this gem deserves to shine even brighter. -- Abby Devora

Röyksopp & Robyn, Do It Again


I had planned to see Robyn and Röyksopp in New York on August 20, but then tragedy struck. I ended up having to fly to California that same day to cover the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards, and so my ticket went unused. I know -- my life is hard. But, I'll be forever bummed that I never got to dip into an existential "Monument" trance alongside the Scandinavian trio, nor experience that unholy "Sayit" bass drop live. -- JW

Gangsta Boo & Beatking, Underground Casette Tape Music


He’s a Texas-sized 30-year-old father with a major in bone-crushing Houston slab music and a minor in strip clubs. She’s a devilish Memphis legend who joined Three 6 Mafia at 14. Together, they’re a force of nature. On their first joint mixtape, Underground Cassette Tape Music, Gangsta Boo's staccato lyrical bursts complement Beatking’s 18-wheeler drawl, Paul Wall shows up on a beat that samples “Still Tippin',” Beatking delivers a spoken word skit about Dirty South style-jackers in his “Kermit the Frog voice,” and Boo raps from the perspective of a hungry zombie. It's the only album in 2014 worth installing a custom subwoofer in your whip for. -- Ezra Marcus

Little Dragon, Nabuma Rubberband


It's a shame Little Dragon has yet to break into the mainstream. Their songs -- full of longing and beauty -- are the sort of poppy earworms that soundtrack the highest highs and the lowest lows of your life. Their music is music for everybody. -- BJ

Ariel Pink, pom pom


Ariel Pink's pom pom is my #1 record of the year. Hands down. Wry, sarcastic, aching, deviant and totally weird, Pink hit a new stride with his first solo record. -- BE

Kiesza, Sound Of A Woman


Kiesza’s Sound Of A Woman killed me softly, especially “Giant In My Heart.” I want everything to sound that 1988. -- TA

Atmosphere, Southsiders


Atmosphere has been grinding since the mid 1990s, and this year they proved they are as strong, if not stronger, than they’ve ever been. Southsiders, a project that was released through the group’s longtime label, Rhymesayers Entertainment, is another shining light their discography that evokes pain, hope, lyrical poignancy and soothing instrumentals. This album melds Slug’s storytelling sharpness (“My Lady Got Two Men”), romantic musings (“Mrs. Interpret”) and emotional touch (“Flicker”) with Ant’s accompaniment, proving just why the two are independent rap mainstays. -- AT

BANKS, Goddess


From calling out incompetence ("Brain") to making sure the pain inflicted upon her is not hers alone to bear ("Beggin For Thread"), BANKS' Goddess gives you permission to seethe, and it has never felt more satisfying. -- JW

Tove Lo, Queen Of The Clouds


Sure, you’ve probably heard Swedish singer Tove Lo’s mind-erasing hit single, “Habits (Stay High).” But if you don’t have her full-length debut, you’re missing one of the best albums of 2014. Tove Lo’s Clouds is like the hard, R-rated version of Lorde’s soft, PG-13 debut: druggier, sexier, grimier and packed with even more brain-buzzing beats, hooks and wild-in-the-streets stories. Plus, it’s a concept album in three parts: “The Sex,” “The Love” and “The Pain.” In her own words, on good days she is “charming as f--k.” -- Gil Kaufman

White Sea, In Cold Blood


I loved every inch, note and breath of White Sea’s In Cold Blood, especially the femme-funk inferno that is “Future Husbands Past Lives.” -- TA

Dilated Peoples, Directors Of Photography


Dilated Peoples had a standout year in their seasoned career thanks to Directors of Photography, the long-awaited follow-up to 2006’s 20/20. Evidence, Rakaa Iriscience and DJ Babu have an undeniable chemistry -- from their Aloe Blacc-assisted anthem “Show Me The Way” to their Sick Jacken-backed “L.A. River Drive” -- and this might just be their best work yet. -- AT

Oh Land, Earth Sick


Oh Land's Earth Sick isn't like anything you'd hear on the radio, but its infectious, intelligent pop could have you singing in your car anyway. Recorded in makeshift studios, funded by fans and released on her own record label, Nanna Oland Fabricius made an album entirely her own, singing about insecurities and finding her place in the world. And, though Earth Sick's production was indie to its core, this LP deserves platinum-level listeners. -- Emilee Lindner

Hozier, Hozier


My top pick would have to be Hozier’s album, Hozier. It’s bluesy, folksy, contemplative -- all that good stuff. Each song is great individually, but taken as a whole the album hits you like a good book you never get tired of reading. (Seriously, I listen to all the songs on repeat.) “Take Me To Church” gained a lot of mainstream popularity -- probably why he performed it at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show -- but my favorite song from the album is “From Eden.” I can't wait to hear what the immensely talented artist does next. -- Rachel Paoletta

Tinashe, Aquarius


With Ciara out on maternity leave, the world was in desperate need of a low-key R&B vocalist who could handle a little eight-count choreography. While Tinashe proved more than capable of filling that void, the strong songwriting, forward-thinking production (on the Dev Hynes-produced "Bet" in particular) and overall cohesive vision on her debut album, Aquarius, shows that that she's more than just a void-filler. -- JW

Your Old Droog, Your Old Droog

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While many people thought that Your Old Droog was actually Nas with his voice altered at first, the MC managed to break away from those comparisons, and his self-titled album proves that he’s a worthwhile rapper who isn’t here to shine off the next man’s chain. Don’t get it twisted. Droog still shows he’s a student of the culture, with lyrical nods to influences like Ice Cube, but he also brings forth a refreshing take on past excellence with a new flare that stands out -- like a present-day photographer who snaps a black and white photograph that could just as easily fit into an older frame as it could a newer one. There’s a sense of timelessness in that, a quality that made Sway Calloway recently praise the rapper’s craftsmanship, technique and rhymes. This is what “separates [Droog] from the fray,” Sway explained. Amen. -- AT

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