Continuing on from yesterday's first installment of letters A through M, here's Part 2 of our 'A-Z of music in 2014.'
N is for NICO AND VINZ
The Norwegian duo originally released 'Am I Wrong' in 2013 under their previous guise Envy, but it became a huge international hit when it was re-released in January of this year.
O is for ORANGE, JASON
Those of us old enough to have a soft spot for the original Take That felt our heartstrings tugged by the news that Jason Orange was leaving the band. He didn't do much, it's true – but seeing the three remaining members performing since his departure during the summer just looks a bit strange. Adios, Mr. Orange. Mr. Williams… the door is open.
P is for PHARRELL
There must be something wrong with us, because the most ubiquitous song of 2014 makes us queasy. Pharrell, you used to be cool. Now you wear silly hats and are a shadow of your former musical risk-taking self. We're obviously in the minority, though, because 'Happy' made a lot of people…err… happy in 2014.
Q is for 'QUEEN FOREVER'
"Who wants to live forever?" Freddie Mercury once sang. No doubt he didn't envisage his legacy being continued by the caterwauling Adam Lambert as vocalist of Queen, but fans of the rock band had reason to celebrate in 2014 with the release of 'Queen Forever', a compilation of unreleased material that the band had "forgotten about". The 'ker-ching' of cash registers was difficult to ignore, but at least it was Mercury's voice on those tracks.
R is for REUNIONS
There were plenty of reunions during the year, ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime. S Club 7 (pictured), The Libertines, OutKast, Ride and Pink Floyd were all amongst bands who reformed in 2014. We'll let you figure out who falls into which category.
S is for SAM SMITH
The only artist to sell a million copies of his album in both the UK and the US during 2014 - as well as multiple awards and Grammy nominations; Sam Smith had what you might call a good year - and what an album 'In the Lonely Hour' is, too. Like Hozier, his voice is a major selling point, but there are some excellent songs on the young Londoner's debut album, too – from lovelorn balladry of 'Stay With Me' to the zippy two-step zing of 'La La La' and 'Money on My Mind'. This guy's gonna be around for a while.
T is for T-SWIFT AND TRAINOR, MEGHAN
Megahits with Blank Space, Shake It Off, and a huge album in 1989, cemented friendships with Lorde, Ed Sheeran and the rest; it's been a bumper year for Taylor Swift. Newcomer Meghan Trainor, on the other hand, made a big impression with her first two sassy singles 'All About That Bass' (and its brilliant accompanying video) and 'Lips Are Movin'. Her debut album 'Title' is released in January.
U is for U2
Poor U2. They haven't had a great year, have they? Firstly, after years of rumours about who they were working with and whether or not new material would ever see the light of day, their long-awaited 13th studio album 'Songs of Innocence' was released in September. Not only that, but it was made available for free to iTunes users. Yet people still found something to complain about (mostly their mammoth pay-off from Apple – shock! Horror! Gasp!) and the backlash was both furious and completely out of proportion. Then Bono fell off his bike in New York's Central Park and did some serious damage to himself. Still, they'll play a run of Dublin dates later in 2015 (rumoured to be at the 3Arena), so that's something to look forward to, at least.
V is for THE VAMPS AND MCVIE, CHRISTINE
For the uninitiated, The Vamps are the latest young British act to carry on the tradition of boy-bands-with-guitars (think McFly) for a new generation. They're fierce popular altogether amongst the tween and teenybopper market, but strongly deny that they're a boyband. Fair enough. They released their debut album 'Meet the Vamps' in April, and it went straight to number two in the Irish charts. But they're NOT A BOYBAND, K?
V is also for Christine McVie (cut us some slack here), who rejoined Fleetwood Mac earlier this year after a 16-year absence. She'll play with the 'Mac on their forthcoming world tour which includes three dates in Dublin next summer.
W is for THE WANTED
Another one bites the dust… 2014 was the year that boyband The Wanted called it a day (or 'a hiatus', as they described it to their deluded fans). Oh well. They only had one good song, anyway.
X is for XCX, CHARLI AND 'XSCAPE'
Charli XCX is 22-year-old Charlotte Emma Aitchison from Cambridge. She's been making quite a stir on the pop scene over the last year or two, co-writing and guesting on Iggy Azalea's 'Fancy' and Icona Pop's 'I Don't Care', and has been active as a singer and songwriter since she was 16. Her third album 'Sucker' has just been released. Expect to hear a lot more of this extremely talented young lass in the near future.
X is also for Xscape, the second posthumously-released album of material by Michael Jackson. You have to wonder whether the King of Pop would have wanted his legacy to be touted so brazenly (a track was used to plug Sony Xperia phones, etc.), but the public spoke and bought it in their droves. The truth? It's OK.
Y is for YOUNG FATHERS
This year's Mercury Prize saw the likes of Damon Albarn, Royal Blood and Bombay Bicycle Club nominated for Best UK/Irish Album of 2013/14 – but it was scooped by this Scottish hip-hop trio, who looked hilariously miserable (see above) at the ceremony. They recently played Other Voices in Dingle, so you can expect to get a flavour of their sound on your tellybox in the coming months. If you can't wait until then, the aforementioned award-winning 'Dead' is out now.
Z is for ZUN ZUN EGUI
Yes, we know you've probably never heard of them. Yes, they're a little obscure. But do you have any idea how few bands or artists begin with the letter 'Z'? We were this close to dragging out some far-fetched Ziggy Stardust anecdote and somehow relating it to 2014. Luckily, we don’t have to because this Bristol-based band recorded their new album this year and release it in January via Bella Union. Their sound is a mesh of jazz, Afro-pop, funk and god-knows-what-else; all we know is that songs like 'African Tree' have suitably intrigued us over the last few weeks.