It wasn't an easy task narrowing down this year's wealth of remarkable magazine covers down to just a handful of finalists for this year's Hot List. But after some careful consideration (and sorrowfully ruling out some personal favorites—sorry Miley, you looked great on W), we settled on the six images below. Whether powerful, funny, beautiful or just plain buzzy, these are our picks for the hottest covers of 2014.
When you're done browsing, vote for your favorite here.
Love it or hate it, there's no doubting the fact that Kim and Kanye weren't just the #WorldsMostTalkedAboutCouple this year: Their Vogue debut also made for the #WorldsMostTalkedAboutCover (and Vogue's best-selling newsttand issue for the first half of the year). In fact, it caused such a stir that the usually silent Anna Wintour had to publicly defend her decision to put the couple on the cover—and debunk rumors that Kanye had "begged" her to feature his wife-to-be.
Time (June 9)
When Time put Laverne Cox on its cover this past June, it wasn't just a milestone for fans of Orange Is the New Black. The 30-year-old actress was also the first transgendered person to be featured on the newsweekly's cover, which was released just over a month after Cox's omission from the annual Time 100 list—despite heavy support for her in the magazine's reader poll—drew criticism from fans.
Rolling Stone (April 24)
It wasn't just Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus' lack of clothing on that Rolling Stone cover that raised eyebrows. (Or that a 53-year-old woman was—gasp!—permitted to go topless on a national magazine.) It turned out that the John Hancock signature prominently scrawled beneath the tattoo of the U.S. Constitution on the actress's back was quite the historical faux pas given that Hancock never actually signed the document. Louis-Dreyfus poked fun at the incident on Twitter, while Rolling Stone claimed that it was all meant to be "in the spirit" of Veep's satirical tone.
ESPN The Magazine (July 21)
Since ESPN The Magazine first debuted its annual Body Issue in 2009, the majority of athletes who have stripped down for its cover fit into the same mold: Very toned, very lean and very blessed with rock-hard abs. But the buzziest of this year's six Body Issue cover stars wasn't Michael Phelps or Serena Williams; it was MLB player Prince Fielder, who stole the show with his ample physique and proved that you don't have to be chiseled to be (in the words of Deadspin's Leigh Cowart) "sexy as hell."
New York (February 17-24)
Lupita Nyong'o's appearance on New York magazine's Spring Fashion Issue cover—also the Oscar winner's first solo cover—helped catapult her from breakout star to bonafide style icon. It also didn't hurt that, rather than use the typical nice-but-snooze-inducing actress portrait, New York created a truly memorable image.
Time (September 1)
While news outlets across the country covered the protests caused by the police shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. this past August, it was this powerful Time cover, taken by photographer Scott Olson (who was also among the journalists arrested in Ferguson), that became one of the most indelible images to emerge from the conflict.