As 2014 draws to a close, now is as good a time as any to recap a few musical events that took place throughout the year. There were tons of ups and downs when it came to albums, concerts, trends, and songs. Here are just a few musicians who stood out to me this year and who, I think, made an impact on music, for the better.
The Year of Pharrell
If anyone had a great year musically, it was Pharrell Williams. The Grammy award winning artist/producer has the number one Hot 100 song of 2014, which of course is “Happy.” The song, originally written for the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack, had people all over the world creating YouTube versions of the song, and it even crossed secular realms becoming quite a popular tune for church choirs to perform. Pharrell has been on a musical high since 2013 when he took over radio with his two big hits “Blurred Lines” and “Get Lucky.” He hasn’t stopped cranking out good music yet, especially since he dropped his highly anticipated album Girl in March. The album has sold 6.4 million records so far.
Detroit rapper Dej Loaf Tries the world
Dej Loaf proved that there is no shortage of rap talent in the Motor City. The 23 year-old rap phenom had radios bumping her smash hit “Try Me” all summer and the momentum has not slowed down yet. The hardcore lyrics and threatening hook had many thinking this song could not have come from a small-framed, soft-spoken, young woman from Detroit. But, everyone quickly caught on to her smooth sound and in-your-face rap style and she has been riding high off the track ever since, attracting attention from rappers like Drake, Wiz Kalifa, and The Lox, who hopped on the remix to the song. Read more about Dej Loaf here.
Jhene Aiko shines light on alternative R&B
In listening to Jhene Aiko’s music, it’s hard to classify her as just R&B, or just neo-soul. She is all that and more. Many critics have classified her as PBR&B, which is a new term that’s used to describe a stylistic, alternative to contemporary R&B. But, needless to say, Jhene is in the business of making good music that captures the true essence of what its like to go through heartbreak, pain, and overcoming serious issues, as a young woman in the 21st century. “The Worst,” the latest song from her EP Sail Out garnered a ton of buzz and earned her a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Song. She recently dropped her debut album Souled Out in September, which received great reviews. And after seeing her perform recently in Detroit, it’s clear that she is on her way to becoming one of the great, female singers of our generation.
Chris Brown reclaims R&B Loyalty
I think it’s safe to finally put Chris Brown back into the positive front when it comes to music. He’s managed to get himself into a lot of trouble, even ending up in jail earlier this year for getting kicked out of rehab. But, there is one thing you can’t charge him with, and that is making bad music. His single “Loyal” was one of the hottest songs of the year, and even with its somewhat taboo subject line about women, it still had both genders rocking to the tune in the clubs. His new album X is full of great songs and collaborations. Chris is another artist who had a great year, at least on the Billboard charts.