Most Effective Anti-Spotify Ploy: Taylor Swift
Sorry Thom Yorke, but releasing an album via BitTorrent just doesn't have the same punch as removing your entire catalog from Spotify the same week your insanely anticipated fifth album sells 1.287 copies in one week. Swift may not be able to K.O. music streaming in the long run, but she's the industry's best hope tossing Spotify aside like a spurned lover.
Most Unexpected Chart Hit: TIE: Jimmy Fallon and Jennifer Lawrence
Not long ago, Jimmy Fallon became the first Tonight Show host to notch a top 40 Billboard Hot 100 hit when his will.i.am-featuring single "Ew!" debuted at No. 26 on the chart. Equally unexpected, "The Hanging Tree" -- a haunting lament from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part I sung by Jennifer Lawrence -- is headed for a top 40 debut on the Hot 100 as well. 2015 is going to have to work hard to out-weird a Fallon and a J.Law chart hit.
Best Dick Diss: Lorde to Diplo
After Diplo tweeted the troll-ish "Someone should make a Kickstarter to get Taylor Swift a booty," Swift's friend (and foe to body shamers worldwide) Lorde put him in his place.
We can only hope after sending out that tweet, Lorde collapsed on the ground like Natalie Portman in Black Swan and whispered, "I was perfect."
Most Brilliantly Bad Lyrics: Ariana Grande's "Break Free"
Need we say more than "I only wanna die alive" and "Now that I've become who I really are"? We find ourself sings this brilliantly bad lyrics constant.
29 Infamous Music Feuds
Best Hater Handler: Iggy Azalea
Breakthrough rap star Iggy Azalea found herself facing bizarre criticism from not one but two rap legends old enough to be her father this year. Snoop attacked her appearance and Eminem rapped about raping her. Instead of stooping to their level or losing her shit, Azalea handled both situations with class. T.I. helped smooth things over with Snoop, and Iggy perfectly put Slim Shady back in his unclean closet with these tweets, which place everything in perspective.
Indie-est Album Imaginable: Scott Walker & Sun O)))
An indie wet dream came to vivid life this year when drone metal band Sunn O))) and post-rock singer Scott Walker joined forces to create Soused, an album of challenging experimental music. Separately, both artists have created albums so difficult that they make Radiohead sound like Coldplay. Together on Soused, they actually flirt with harmony and melody on a few tracks -- something neither has done in years on their own.
Best Justin Bieber: Austin Mahone
Admittedly, Justin Bieber is a pretty good Justin Bieber. But Austin Mahone spent approximately zero minutes in court or police custody this year, so the pop singing upstart actually takes the crown for 2014's Best Bieber. Just look how wholesome he is chowing down on this pizza!
Best U2 Album Diss: Foo Fighters
While many have weighed in on U2's new album suddenly showing up in their iTunes library without welcome, Foo Fighters' Taylor Hawkins had the best riposte: "I listened to it once, but it’s so marred by that whole sort of Orwellian, 1984 extreme that it just kinda sounds like a fart any way you listen to it." He also deserves lauds for making a literary reference and a fart joke in the same breath.
Most Ironic Arrest: AC/DC
What are the chances that someone who drummed on a song about hiring a hitman would one day be charged with attempting to procure a murder? Well, it took 38 years, but it finally happened this year when AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd was arrested and charged with just that. Although that charge was soon dropped (he now faces charges of threatening to kill someone and drug possession), it's easily the year's most ironic arrest.
65 Musician Mug Shots: Photos
Most Music-Intolerant Audience: SNL Viewers
Saturday Night Live viewers are accustomed to pop stars like Ariana Grande or legends like Prince -- both of whom are great, but also very accessible. Still, Twitter's reaction to art rock genius St. Vincent performing two songs from her new album on SNL was borderline insane. Introducing people who watch SNL in real-time on a Saturday night to St. Vincent was like Marty McFly covering Chuck Berry at his parents' high school dance -- it started out fine, but by the time it was over, everyone was confused, flabbergast and strangely upset. See this piece for proof.
Best Career Save: Azealia Banks
Better known for beefs and delays than actual music, it's no exaggeration to say that Azealia Banks saved her career this year. And she did it with something almost no one expected: A start-to-finish fantastic album. Melding disparate styles with the ease of Bowie and the imagination of Prince, Banks' long-delayed Broke With Expensive Taste is one of the best rap albums of 2014, and possibly the year's strongest debut.
Best Use of Cheesy '80s Guitar in a 2014 Movie: Nightcrawler
Although Nightcrawler (starring Jake Gyllenhaal) itself is an alternately suspenseful and disturbing take on the capitalist self-starter mentality taken to its most frightening extreme, the music for this film is unexpectedly -- and hilariously -- earnest. Bursts of cheesy electric guitar straight out of an '80s action flick pops up throughout the movie. It's a perfect postmodern counterpart to the latest stylish movie about Los Angeles' amorality.
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