Editor’s note: The point of more extensive genre lists is to help give shine to albums that wouldn’t make it into the overall best albums list. So, despite the rap-specific list — where ranking is still next to godliness — we’ve opted to leave the albums that appeared on the overall best list off the genre-specific lists. But even for rap, some albums made the cut for their impact on the that sphere without cracking the best of list. After all, the point of these lists is to examine the way music has changed or moved throughout the year, and our year-end framework will continue to reflect that impetus. Though it is meant to highlight the best work in this genre, hopefully, you can also make some discoveries through this list.
In a world where poptimism is the reigning force, and superstars like Kesha, Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey and Miley Cyrus are all staging their respective comebacks, pop music is nothing to shake a stick at. In fact, I would almost argue that this was one of the best years for pop in recent memory, it’s just that the music came to us from weird places and with unexpected twists. In that spirit, here is a mix of albums that topped charts and turned heads, and records that you may have not read about anywhere else yet.