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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Lana Del Rey, 'Ultraviolence'
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3/20

3. Lana Del Rey, 'Ultraviolence'

Featuring nightmarish levels of romantic codependency set to astoundingly dreamy orchestrations, Lana Del Rey's best album celebrates the poisonous power of the unsettlingly soothing lullaby. Sweet and creepy, Ultraviolence pushes the Stepford Wives vibe of 2012's Born to Die to the hilt while refining its vertiginous beauty. Produced largely by the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, it's a fastidiously sick shrine to junkies, alcoholics and the good-girls-gone-bad who adore them. LDR feeds her appetite for self-destruction, spinning it into an ocean-sized F.U. to all her haters. Swapping trip-hop for swirling rock ballad sophistication, Ultraviolence showcases the once-derided singer's drastically improved pipes and far more nuanced delivery; her sighing alto warble now imparts lust and resignation, determination and simmering rage — even in the softest, most symphonic moments. B.W.

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