2014’s Must-Reads on Music


Every year, once list fatigue has started to pass, I start to see culture writers of various beats share and discuss their favorite stories of the year. In one way, it’s a niche circle taking stock of where their shrinking industry is headed; in another, it’s a way to spread the stories that made them say, “damn I wish I’d thought of that.” When writers and editors say that, you know it’s a piece worth your time.

We already gave you the year’s best cultural commentary, but I found myself wanting to shine a light on some of the pieces that stayed with me long after the tab left my browser.

Tech, Biz + The Charts

Why the Summer Music Festival Bubble Is About to Burst — Wondering Sound — Grayson Haver Currin

I Know You Got Soul: The Trouble With Billboard’s R&B and Hip-Hop Charts — Pitchfork — Chris Molanphy

The Shazam EffectThe Atlantic — Derek Thompson

How Young Thug Got Trapped By A $15,000 Advance From A Major Label — BuzzFeed — Naomi Zeichner

Race + Class

Top 40 In A Summer Of Discontent — NPR — Ann Powers

Revisiting ‘Ready to Die’: Biggie’s Brooklyn, Then and Now — Wondering Sound — Judnick Mayard

Questlove On How Hip-Hop Failed Black America — Vulture — Questlove

Angaleena Presley and Nadine Hubbs’s Case Against Country-Music Classism — Wondering Sound — Jewly Hight

Gender + Sexuality

Ordinary Machines: Pretty When You Cry — Pitchfork — Lindsay Zoladz

The Booty Myth — Cuepoint/Medium — Evelyn McDonnell

Shady XLII: Eminem in 2014 — Grantland — Molly Lambert

Social Anxiety: Sam Smith and the Complicated Matter of “Normalizing” Gayness The Fader — Jessica Robertson

These Hoes Ain’t Heard: On the Women Who Remixed “Loyal” — The Hairpin — Emma Carmichael

Sleater-Kinney: Start Together box set — Pitchfork — Jenn Pelly

Harry Styles: Boy of the Year of the GirlRolling Stone — Rob Sheffield

Bygone Eras

Hunting for the Source of the World’s Most Beguiling Folk MusicThe New York Times Magazine — Amanda Petrusich

Real People: Chic in the ’80s — Red Bull Music Academy — Michaelangelo Matos

Who Can I Be Now? How David Bowie Spent 1974 — NPR — Jem Aswad

The Definitive, One-Size-Fits-All, Accept-No-Substitutes, Massively Comprehensive Guide to the Life and Times of KISS — Grantland — Chuck Klosterman


Jason Molina’s Long Dark BluesThe Chicago Reader — Max Blau

Nicki Minaj: The Real HerComplex — Lauren Nostro

50 Cent Is My Life CoachGQ — Zach Baron

Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme Is Our Last Real Rock StarLA Weekly — Steve Appleford

The Bulletproof Altar of St. VincentThe Village Voice — Devon Maloney

Fun Stuff

Beatlemaniacs, Beliebers, Directioners — Why Do They Scream?The Washington Post — Chris Richards

Celebrating 10,000 Years of Arcade Fire — Hazlitt — Zachary Lipez

20 Essential K-Pop Songs — Pitchfork — Jakob Dorof

Allow us to add: Flavorwire’s 2014 music section highlight reel

‘Nothing Has Changed’: Searching for a Self in David Bowie’s 50 Years of Transformation

Run the Jewels: The Definitive History of How Killer Mike and El-P Became Hip-Hop’s Favorite Odd Couple

How the Music Industry Capitalized on Foodie Culture — and Why the Culinary World Is Turning the Tables

“How Are Things on the East Coast?”: A One-Act Play About Interpol

Perfume Genius Wants To Be Your Gay Icon

Iggy Azalea, Andrew W.K., and the Paradox of Authenticity in Pop Music

Secrets For Sale: Bob Dylan’s ‘Basement Tapes’ Maintain Their Mystery Despite Complete Release

20 Years of Weezer’s ‘Blue Album’: 11 Musicians Dissect It Track By Track

Thee Silver Mt. Zion Orchestra and What Political Music Means in the 21st Century

2014: The Year Music Actually Did Something About Its Tech Skepticism