2014 was an interesting year for music as well as celebrity memoirs this year 3 audiobooks made our list as well as 3 albums from the following genres: Latin, Pop and Rock. The rock category features a Broadway cast recording as well as en EP from a talented up-and-coming trio.
Adriana Lucia, “Porro Hecho en Colombia”
Released in June of 2014 Adriana Lucia’s sixth studio album “Porro Hecho en Colombia” (Porro Made in Colombia) cements the songstress’ status as a prolific powerhouse. The album features ballads as well as up-tempo tunes. Porro is a sub-genre of Colombian cumbia rhythm from the Caribbean region of Colombia. The accomplished Colombian singer-songwriter pens some of the most beautiful songs “Quiero Que Te Quedes” and “La Canción Más Bonita” are great examples of that. Stand out tracks include, “Ya Te Solté,” “Quiero Que Te Quedes,” “La Espeluca,” and “La Canción Más Bonita”
Various Artists, “Hedwig And The Angry Inch: Original Broadway Cast Recording”
The musical revival of Hedwig And The Angry Inch made its triumphant return to Broadway in April 2014. “Hedwig And The Angry Inch Original Broadway Cast Recording” is the musical companion to the eight-time TONY-nominated show which then starred Neil Patrick Harris and Lena Hall. Harris had big platform shoes to fill after the beloved original cast recording and movie soundtrack it seemed Hedwig would be untouchable yet Harris brings an undeniable charm and sexiness that breathes new life into the role and the recording. In addition to Tony Award winners Neil Patrick Harris and Lena Hall, the album also features: Justin Craig (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Matt Duncan (bass, vocals), Tim Mislock (guitar, vocals), and Peter Yanowitz (drums, vocals).
Ingrid Michaelson, “Lights Out”
With undeniably infectious singles like, “Girls Chase Boys” and the anthemic “Afterlife” you can’t go wrong with Ingrid Michaelson’s “Lights Out.” Released in April 2014 “Lights Out” is a stellar pop rock record that features thoughtful lyrics and melodic up-tempo tunes. The record is a fun listen. There’s no denying that Michaelson is a force to be reckoned with. Stand out tracks include the aforementioned “Girls Chase Boys,” “Afterlife” and “Warpath”
Taylor Swift, “1989”
Taylor Swift is quickly becoming one of the most prolific singer-songwriters of her generation. There’s no denying that she has a knack for crafting insightful pop tunes with mass appeal and her latest effort, “1989” is proof of that. Aside from the smash hit and leadoff single, “Shake It Off” “1989” features power ballads, “Blank Space,” “All You Had To Do Was Stay” and the danceable radio friendly “How You Get The Girl.” Love her or hate her Taylor Swift’s reign as a chart-topping Pop songstress continues.
Romeo Santos, “Formula Vol.2”
“Hagan espacio que Daddy’s back” (Make room Daddy’s back) sang Romeo Santos in the track, “Amigo” off his highly anticipated follow-up album, “Formula Vol.2” and just like that his reign continues as the King of Bachata. Released in February of 2014 “Formula Vol.2” features 17 tracks bookended by hilarious phone messages, the intro which features comedian Kevin Hart giving the artist album title suggestions that the comedian believes would appeal more to the Latino community. The music itself is stellar. The guitar-driven track, “Necio,” features legendary guitarist Carlos Santana as Romeo sings about coveting a married woman. A common theme that is revisited in the song, “Eres Mia” (You’re mine) where he signs, “si tú te casas el día de tu boda, le digo a tu esposo con risa, que solo eres prestada, la mujer que ama porque sigues siendo mía” (If you get married on your wedding day I will tell your husband with a chuckle that the woman he loves is only a loaner because you continue to be mine). Which he caps off with “Te deseo lo mejor y lo mejor soy yo” (I wish you the best and the best is me). Standout tracks include, “Cancioncitas de Amor,” “Eres Mia,” “Hilito,” “No Tiene la Culpa” (which may be the first Bachata to mention and/or defend homosexuality, he states, “this is not a gay record this is a reality song,” very progressive on his part) and “Yo Tambien” a salsa track featuring Marc Anthony.
Lena Dunham, “Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s ‘Learned’” (audiobook)
The last time an audiobook made our Best Of list was back in 2009 with Kathy Griffin’s “Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin” this year 3 audiobooks made our list. The first the insightful tale of a young woman and her struggles with relationships, self-image and mental health, Lena Dunham’s “Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s ‘Learned’” is an honest, self-deprecating look into her life. While her success and artistic endeavors differ from my own, let’s face it few twenty-something year old women are directors, producers, stars and writers of their own show, I found myself relating to her plight and neurosis proving once and for all that I’m a nut bag. I will never be as funny, as successful or as talented as Lena Dunham and I’m ok with that because I can always hit rewind and cry myself to sleep as I listen to her narrate “Not That Kind of Girl…”
Diana Fuentes, “Planeta Planetario”
On August 19, 2014 Cuban singer-songwriter Diana Fuentes unleashed her musically diverse sounding record “Planeta Planetario” a vision that was coauthored by Calle 13’s Eduardo Cabra. The 14-track album which was recorded partly in Cuba and in Puerto Rico features various genres including afro-Cuban sounds, pop, Jamaican dance, electronic, hip hop and bolero music. The album is a bold musical expression full of great tunes and melodies.
Moonrise Nation, “Moonrise Nation”
Released on February 4th 2014 Moonrise Nation’s self-titled EP may be the first EP to make it on our Best of List, the Chicago trio is building a solid following with their unique blend of indie folk-pop. Their 5 track EP entices listeners with their sultry harmonies accompanied by a keyboard and cello. The EP has set the bar high for future releases from these ladies it’s great from start to finish.
Joe Perry, “Rocks: My Life in and out of Aerosmith” (audiobook)
Clocking in at a whopping 14 hours and 21 minutes Joe Perry’s audiobook for his memoir, “Rocks: My Life in and out of Aerosmith” provides listeners with an insightful tale of Perry’s upbringing and the emotional journey that comes with being in one of the greatest rock n roll bands of all time including the rise and fall (and resurrection) of Aerosmith. A must have for any Aerosmith fan.
Katrina Leskanich, “Blisland”
Katrina Leskanich former lead singer of Katrina and The Waves, released her first studio album in 10 years, “Blisland,” in August of 2014. The rocker has gone on the record as saying that it was inspired by the albums she grew up listening to in the 70s, the result an honest, well-crafted 8-track album which includes a blues version of her signature song, “Walking on Sunshine.” You simply can’t go wrong with tracks like “Dizzy,” “Definition” and “Sun Coming Upper” all fantastic representation of her songwriting skills.
Jennifer Lopez, “True Love” (audiobook)
“This isn’t a tell all book,” Jennifer Lopez prefaces in her memoir “True Love” which focuses on the transformative two year period where her marriage crumbled and she found herself alone as a single mother of two and on the verge of embarking of her first world tour. She speaks candidly about her emotional and spiritual journey and the growth she underwent after facing her biggest fears of being alone. The audiobook is a fascinating listen; during the funny moments and happier times Jennifer often chuckles as she reminisces on the madness that comes with fame and in the chapters where she opens up about her marriage and she acknowledges that her marriage was in fact over her voice cracks and in that moment she’s no longer JLO the movie star, JLO the most beautiful woman in the world, the one with the body who’s love life is part of tabloid fodder, she’s simply Jennifer a woman who desperately believes in love and finally did right by her.
Zola Jesus, “Taiga”
Released on October 7th 2014 Zola Jesus’ album “Taiga” features hauntingly beautiful breathy vocals and equally breathtaking melodies. It’s a pop album with an indie soul and in a day and age where the word “pop” is considered a dirty word especially in the realm of indie singer-songwriters what makes this album so great at its core are the lyrics, they are profound and the album grows on you with each listen. Standout tracks include: “Go (Blank Sea),” “Dangerous Days” and “Lawless.”