I could talk for ages about all the nitty gritty correlations I’ve found between all of these magazines, but rather than write a thesis paper’s length post on a site that gets as much traffic in a single week as any single post on any one of these sites I’ll keep it to a five most interesting correlations.
Below is the list of the top 20 albums of the year, ranked by the averaged score compiled from the six music press websites I’ve chosen to sample from.
|1||Arcade Fire - The Suburbs||3||4||2||2||5||11||4.50|
|2||Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy||1||1||NR||1||3||1||4.67|
|3||LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening||4||10||4||13||7||2||6.67|
|4||Beach House - Team Dream||17||17||3||3||1||5||7.67|
|5||Vampire Weekend - Contra||11||6||NR||7||NR||6||12.00|
|6||Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest||2||NR||20||10||NR||3||12.83|
|7||Robyn - Body Talk||10||14||NR||5||13||15||13.00|
|8||The National - High Violet||NR||15||11||16||2||NR||14.33|
|9||Jamey Johnson - The Guitar Song||5||5||NR||NR||NR||NR||15.67|
|10||The Black Keys - Brothers||NR||2||NR||NR||11||NR||16.17|
|11||Titus Andronicus - The Monitor||15||NR||NR||NR||12||10||16.67|
|12||Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Song Of Chico Dusty||13||NR||NR||NR||NR||4||16.83|
|13||Janelle Monae - The Archandroid||6||NR||NR||NR||NR||12||17.00|
|14||Joanna Newsom - Have One On Me||NR||NR||NR||11||NR||7||17.00|
|15||Yeasayer - Odd Blood||12||NR||15||14||NR||NR||17.33|
|16||Best Coast - Crazy For You||14||NR||NR||NR||6||NR||17.33|
|17||Sleigh Bells - Treats||NR||NR||NR||6||NR||16||17.67|
|18||These New Puritans Hidden||NR||NR||1||NR||NR||NR||17.67|
|19||Grinderman - Grinderman 2||7||NR||16||NR||NR||NR||17.83|
|20||Drake Thank Me Later||16||7||NR||NR||NR||NR||17.83|
A little explanation for the table: NR means “not rated”, which makes sense since not all magazines will be ranking all of the same albums. Also, I know some of these sites released a list larger than 20 albums (for example, Pitchfork had a top 50 albums list this year but I just analyzed their top 20). So, a rank of NR just means they didn’t rank the album in their top 20. It’s very possible that an album may be ranked somewhere between 21 – 100, so if you feel so inclined then please check out their individual lists to see where some of the not rated albums might have ended up (links are provided below).
Now, five points to discuss about the average between these rankings.
Arcade Fire’s album, The Suburbs, was not ranked #1 by any of these lists
And yet, they averaged out to be ranked #1 based on every magazine/blog ranking them in their top 20. It should really be noted that no magazine ranked it #1, but was consistently on almost everyone’s top list from this year (including individuals, says Best Ever Albums). Some explanations that might explain this: many magazines and blogs might have had to consider whether Arcade Fire (primarily a rock band) or Kanye West (a rapper) would have taken #1; the wide array of other rock albums that were considered top 20 quality (e.g. Deerhunter, The Black Keys, etc) might have saturated the impact of how great The Suburbs really was in the eyes of reviewers and editors; and it’s always possible that Arcade Fire’s album just wasn’t as good as Kanye West’s album… but it was good enough to be ranked very high.
Kanye West’s album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, was ranked #1 by 4 out of 6 magazines/blogs and yet came in second place
This is primarily due to NME not ranking My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy at all. If NME chose to rank Kanye’s album at 20th, then Kanye would actually have tied (and claimed) the first place position. If NME ranked Kanye’s album anything higher than 20, then MBDTF would actually be #1 with no tiebreaker necessary. Just as well, if Spinner ranked MBDTF any higher than #3, Kanye’s album would have been #1 right now. Just to dissect NME a bit, NME made a name for itself as the UK’s best selling music magazine. To a more specific extent, it made headway in reviewing and becoming close to the punk rock and post-punk music scene in the UK by way of The Sex Pistols, Joy Division, and others. Rooting themselves in this sort of culture, and now realizing the extent of Kanye’s influence, it’s very easy to say that Kanye West’s album doesn’t have the international reach as Arcade Fire has. Rather, West’s album may be promoted primarily through hype and gossip rather than through musical prowess and production. Think of it like a high school presidential election. Student A and Student B are both pretty good candidates, but Student A is vastly more popular amongst the student body for his exploits at parties. In this case, I would guarantee Student A to be elected over Student B. As such, this model seems to find it’s way throughout various subjective-over-objective elections.
Spin Magazine has the most accurate list whereas NME has the most inaccurate
This is based on how many of their top 20 albums actually made it on the top 20 list. Spin had 15 out of 20 albums in their top 20 on the top 20 list whereas NME had only 8 out of 20. This isn’t to say Spin has the most reliable and accurate magazine out of all of them, but rather just a correlation that could be completely coincidental. This is also not to bash on NME at all, since the reasoning could be completely something regional or political or something we can’t really extrapolate towards. One thing is for sure, the power of the #1 album of the year from any of these lists go a long way. Case and point, NME’s #1 album of the year by These New Puritans, Hidden, came in at #18 even though not a single other magazine ranked Hidden in their top 20.
Out of the top 10 albums, 9 of them are indie rock/pop bands and 1 of them is Kanye West
In the land of rock dominated albums, the Kanye is king. I suppose. This is somewhat resonating of the first point, but it begs to be seen in another light. This year was somewhat lackluster in the quality of many albums. Some newer artists seemed to wow with their freshness (Fang Island, James Blake, Local Natives) whereas other albums from veteran bands seemed to fall short (matt pond PA, jj, Ratatat). It seems that the veteran bands that did release albums this year that were enjoyed ranked in most people’s top albums list. Case and point, The Black Keys had a huge year releasing what many fans would consider their best album, Brothers. This is now their sixth studio release which has struck a very definitive chord for many blues-rock lovers. Already considered one of the best bands around by rock gods like Jimmy Page and Kirk Hammett, they are finally digging into the music scene in influential ways and commercial ways. The flip side to The Black Keys’ success is the not-so-successful vet albums that have been released. On sheer press reviews alone, only a handful of bands received great praise, such as TBK, whereas other recently-hyped bands like Spoon have not been so fortunate, even though Spoon’s album Transference was a great testament to their experimental indie-pop nature. Far and few separates many releases this year, but those that are warranted with a thumbs up seem to be saturating the pool. In this case, it’s hard to tell whether or not The Black Keys’ Brothers is truly the best album of the year, or any other album, until a few years down the line. The album people refer to the most as “still listened to” and “inspired by” will most likely be the true album of this year. With that in mind, as well as the idea that new artists and bands have exploded onto the scene this year as well as very timely albums from veteran artists and bands, it’s hard to know which of these will stand the test of time in the short term and long term.
Adam Finley is our most accurate album ranker
This is yet again based on the top five albums he chose compared to the ones ranked on the top 20 albums average list. Adam Finley’s #1 choice is Sleigh Bells‘ Treats which ended up being #17 on average. He also chose Joanna Newsom’s Have One On Me (His pick #5, avg. #14) and The Black Keys’ Brothers (His #4, avg. #10). Our overall list had no albums rank in the averaged top 20 list, and the second most accurate album ranker was myself, who chose Brothers at #5. Although this really bares no true correlations to anything in particular, it would raise a good point that some of the albums we review on this site, may it be not so popular the month it is released, sometimes ends up surprising all of us at the end of the year. Joanna Newsom had a good run of press early on but no one really seemed to carry her on in press outside of her album release. Sleigh Bells received tons of press and hype after they were featured on a Honda commercial. The Black Keys (at least here around San Francisco) exploded on the airwaves as well as on the main stage, being nominated for a Grammy for their album. So, for future bands out there looking to make a mark, sometimes… you just time it right and explode.
If you’re interested in checking out the lists from these sites, check the links below! Happy New Year everyone!