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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Pharrell Williams, 'G I R L'

12. Pharrell Williams, 'G I R L'

Following his production of Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" — the 2013 mega-smash that generated accusations of misogyny and glorification of date rape — Williams here devotes himself to pro-female pop euphoria. "Happy" epitomizes this refreshingly jubilant approach, but the rest is nearly as sunny. Like last year's "Get Lucky" hit with Daft Punk, much of G I R L sounds simultaneously retro and futuristic, down-to-earth yet otherworldly, as if Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield and gospel's Mighty Clouds of Joy had jammed with beings from a conflict-free galaxy. "Though my planet's full of warfare/You make me feel like a dream," he croons to his "Lost Queen" muse as if describing his own childlike music's uplift. B.W.

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