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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Various Artists, 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack'
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8. Various Artists, 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack'

Though Jennifer Lawrence's role as The Hunger Games heroine Katniss Everdeen has been a starmaking turn, the character itself is, to be kind, broadly drawn. But on this electronic-pop-leaning soundtrack envisioned by a clearly inspired Lorde, Katniss instantly develops a more complex, combative, introspective personality. CHVRCHES' synth-pop ricochets with playful morbidity; Charli XCX and Simon Le Bon(!) give a hopeful tinge to the darkened-bedroom piano ballad "Kingdom"; Tinashe wails from a sultry void and Grace Jones adds dub jitters. Lorde herself contributes the stormy, enigmatic goth processional "Yellow Flicker Beat" (which Kanye West remixes), a delicate Bright Eyes cover ("The Ladder"), plus assists on Major Lazer's "All My Love" and the air-raid soul of Chemical Brothers and Miguel's "This Is Not a Game." Talk about heroines! C.A.

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