Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift performs onstage at the 42nd annual American Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014, in Los Angeles. AP IMAGES

» By Lauren Cottle

Assistant Features Editor

10) Jack White – “Lazaretto”

“Lazaretto” is a high-energy rock and roll album, more so than anything from The White Stripes. Some could say this album is rock and roll for hipsters. It features electric guitars sometimes infused with pianos and is, overall, a success for White. “Lazaretto” is White’s second solo album, although he has been featured on many other groups’ albums since The White Stripes broke up.

9) St. Vincent – “St. Vincent”

St. Vincent is a poppy, techno album. It features poetic, almost cryptic lyricism. The songs are upbeat and simply pleasant to listen to. “St. Vincent” has electric vocals that shock the listener, as you stay grounded with the brisk beats. This album is St. Vincent’s fourth studio album.

8) Pharrell Williams – “G I R L”

“G I R L” is a classic hip-hop album that closely rides the line of pop. Williams shows off his production skills and smooth vocals in the album. “G I R L” features artists such as Justin Timberlake and Alicia Keys. Some songs are reminiscent of Michael Jackson. Overall, the album sounds “happy.” Williams has been featured on many tracks from other artists, such as “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk and “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, but with this album, he gets to take the front seat.

7) James Vincent McMorrow – “Post Tropical”

“Post Tropical” is an indie album from James Vincent McMorrow. The songs are slow but juxtaposed with crescendos that are upbeat. McMorrow makes good use of percussion and has an impressive vocal range that stops you in your tracks. The album features layered tracks that build up natural imagery and sweet melodies.

6) Alt-J – “This is All Yours”

Alt-J is a British alternative rock band. “This is All Yours” is reminiscent of The Black Keys and sometimes Radiohead (sounds weird, but it works). The songs are funky and jazzy with techno influences. The album is whimsical, but solid. Slow songs are contrasted with upbeat, catchy songs.

5) The Black Keys – “Turn Blue”

“Turn Blue” is a soaring success for The Black Keys’ musical career. It mixes their old sounds with the new. “Turn Blue” sounds like a refined version of their first few albums. The album creatively mixes rock and blues and is refreshingly minimalistic. Some songs will make you get out of your chair and dance. And don’t we need more of that in our lives?

4) Ed Sheeran – “X”

Ed Sheeran is like a British Drake. He sings. He raps. He’s sensitive. “X” is the most developed of Sheeran’s albums so far. It’s a dynamic pop album with hip-hop and rhythmic influences. Sheeran’s tunes are catchy, whether it’s a ballad or a poppy track. One downside (or upside) of the album is that there is a lot of talk of alcohol. The ballads on the album show Sheeran’s sensitivity, while the pop tracks show his ear for rhythm and beat.

3) Hozier – “Hozier”

Hozier’s sound is characterized by deep vocals and a smooth rhythm. His self-titled album is his first, and it almost sounds like it doesn’t fit in this decade of music. However, this doesn’t take away from the goodness encapsulated inside the album. The album features “Take Me to Church,” which was playing on the radio just about every time you turned it on for the last six months. The song is popular, but it doesn’t scratch the surface of Hozier’s sound, which is bluesy, soulful, punching rock. Many songs on the album are catchy but profound.

2) Beck – “Morning Phase”

“Morning Phase” is an album that detaches from the rest of Beck’s work. It’s both whimsical and deep. The album is vocal oriented, and the use of strings makes it seem slightly outlandish. The album is a hodgepodge of different instruments and vocal styles. “Heart is a Drum” might give you the feeling of soaring while “Wave” drags you under into the depths of the sea.

1) Taylor Swift – “1989”

The top album goes to “1989” for many different reasons. It’s catchy, spirited and inspired. “1989” is without a doubt one of the strongest pop albums of recent years. This album, much like Taylor Swift’s other releases, is one that defines and characterizes a specific time in your life. However, unlike Taylor Swift’s other works, it ventures into a new realm of pop, mixing the old sounds with the new. “1989” is Swift’s most cohesive and effective album yet. The tracks are both danceable and moving. The songs powerfully resound out of your speakers and showcase Swift’s growth as an artist. Strong tracks from the album include “Blank Space,” “I Know Places,” “Clean” and “All You Had to Do Was Stay.”