Here's a selection of the best comments we received from music writers who voted in this year's Pazz & Jop music poll. Thank you to all of our music writers who participated this year for voting and for sharing the comments below!
Boil down the most notable performances and accomplishments of pop's major players in 2014 and what you'll find is a whirring, buzzing, rhyme-spitting time machine.
Illustrations by Mark Andresen Nirvana
On her fifth studio album, 1989, Taylor Swift swapped the steel-string twang of her country upbringing for a fully committed foray into pop — with New York City serving as both backdrop for her newfound independence and character in her narrative, turning her into a millennial Marlo Thomas with a microphone. As far as collaborations were concerned, Lady Gaga ditched the bizarre tent of artRAVE: The ARTPOP Ball in favor of the comfortable confines of the studio alongside Tony Bennett for an album of duets that banked on old jazz and musical-theater standards. Meanwhile, on the festival front, OutKast elected to mark the twentieth anniversary of their debut with an unprecedented 40-date fest-headlining tour, one that celebrated the timeless exuberance of their entire catalog while simultaneously — and in spectacular fashion — announcing their own retirement.More »
Five minutes in to The Pinkprint, Nicki Minaj has already alluded to her broken romance, the murder of a cousin, and abortion. It's a bold move for the rapper who broke through the pop mainstream thanks to songs like the bright-pink "Super Bass" and the neon "Starships." But it's also the kind of move that offers you help getting back on your feet — after it punches you in the gut. She ends the opening track, "All Things Go," with a cinematic flourish. In a manner both menacing and elegant, as only Minaj can accomplish, she delivers: "Gee, we did it. Let's leave this imprint. Just finished writing — this is The Pinkprint."
Illustrations by Mark Andresen Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift, and Sia.
In the middle of shooting Snoop's new video, "My Fucn House," the two California hip-hop veterans casually sat down the Atlanta trap rapper, who was in the midst of a career lull.
All three men rap about dealing dope — in fact, a drug heist was a plot point in the video. But Snoop and E-40 have earned reputations as elder statesmen of the genre. E-40, who is 47, once served as a mentor to Snoop, and went on to take the lead on peace treaties aimed at quashing the East Coast–West Coast beef in the late Nineties.
The one the Voice can definitely take credit for is the recruiting initiative that pushed the voter count — which had been in decline for a couple years — back over 600. But luck came in the form of the December 15 release of D'Angelo's Black Messiah — which arrived long after most of the more impatient periodicals had already committed to their year-end lists. Beyoncé's similarly late-breaking album made No. 4 last year, but Black Messiah picks up almost three times as many voters, and wins the 2014 album poll on points despite tying Run the Jewels 2 on raw vote-count.More »
The year 2014 was a bad one for iCloud users and anyone with a reason to have email correspondence with Sony. It was an even worse year for police officers and grand juries. But there always seemed to be someone willing to fight the losing battles, and perhaps not coincidentally, 2014 was a pretty good year for unexpected heroes.
Illustration by Mark Andresen Run the Jewels
Run the Jewels is the unlikely second act of old guys (in hip-hop years) Killer Mike and El-P, who seemed mostly interested in entertaining each other and anyone else who fell into their orbit with this project. But by some alchemy of geography and race and personality and experience and intelligence, they found some vein of truth. Killer Mike, in particular, can turn words into fists, and El-P has figured out how to make beats to match.More »
Take It From People Who Know
Everybody loves year-end lists, but only the Village Voice gives you the list to end all lists: the Pazz & Jop critics poll, America's definitive music countdown. Every year since 1974, the Voice has polled the nation's most influential tastemakers, crunched the numbers via a series of ever-powerful computers, and delivered the results in a starburst of charts, graphs, essays, and general music-geek overload. Let everyone else have their say about who was hot in 2014. Then check with us for the last word. Coming January 14.
You don't have to ask. Kanye West will do it for you.
"How much do I not give a fuck?" he wonders just over a minute into the grinding, bombastic first track off his 2013 victory lap, Yeezus, which is bubbling with answers to that very question. "Let me show you right now . . ."
See also: Kanye West - Barclays Center - 11/19/13More »
No matter how pop it gets, country remains a stubbornly utilitarian music, its hits often built to perform specific functions in listeners' lives. Hate your boss? Play Johnny Paycheck. Having a party in a parking lot? Luke Bryan's got the song for you. Tired of the fact that the traits that distinguish you, your friends, and your family just don't seem to be valued by the new American economy? Spin Blake Shelton's "Boys 'Round Here" or any of 1,000 other audience-mythologizing hits that truck in trucks, beer, prayer, and reassurance. After all, anyone who likes hearing about the all-American greatness of Skoal and red-dirt roads must by rights be pretty great, too.More »