20 Best Pop Albums of 2014

From Taylor Swift’s platinum victory to Kitten’s under-the radar triumph, the year in huge hooks

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Calvin Harris, 'Motion'
20
15/20

15. Calvin Harris, 'Motion'

Of EDM's monied elite, Calvin Harris is easily the genre's most pleasing crowd-pleaser, with melodies that bloom more than they drop on your head like an anvil. He's gotten some guff for how Motion follows the "template" of 2012 pop crossover 18 Months, and sure, tracks like "Under Control," "Blame" and "Overdrive" bulge their veins predictably; but "Love Now," aided by production trio All About She, whirls sleekly, Ellie Goulding's lovelorn warble prances forcefully down a string-draped runway on "Outside," Haim soars with "Pray to God" (imagine Stevie Nicks in furry moonboots) and Tinashe gives a welcome strut and slither to the bass-rattle of "Dollar Signs." Still, the obvious showstopper is global smash "Summer," which features Harris' own boyish purr and unfolds like a fireworks display over the ocean. Twinkle, twinkle, little superstar DJ. C.A.

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