Monday, February 20, 2017

Best Albums of 2016

Every year, I compile the year-end music lists published by a variety of news, music, and entertainment blogs and magazines in order to determine the best ranked albums of the year. I consult a variety of try to capture the wide variety of styles covered by these sources.

My methodology is this: I look at the ranking of each list and assign a number of points to each album based on its placement on the list. For top ten spots, each album gets a number of points inverse to its position; a number one spot gets ten points, number ten gets one point, and so on. Beyond the top ten, albums receive a fraction of a point, the value of which depends on the album's placement. I start at 0.5 points for spots 11 through 20, going down one-tenth of a point for each group of ten. Once I hit 0.1 points, any remaining albums on the list will receive that value.

Here is the top ten ranking for 2016 albums:

10. The 1975 - I Like It When You Sleep for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It: 35.2 points (11 list inclusions, 1 number one spot)
9. Kanye West - The Life of Pablo: 38.5 points (14 list inclusions)
8. Angel Olsen - My Woman: 49.4 points (19 list inclusions)
7. A Tribe Called Quest - We Got It from Here... Thank You for Your Service: 56.7 points (16 list inclusions, 1 number one spot)
6. Chance The Rapper - Coloring Book: 64.1 points (16 list inclusions)
5. Radiohead - A Moon-Shaped Pool: 66.2 points (20 list inclusions)
4. Solange - A Seat at the Table: 81.7 points (19 list inclusions, 4 number one spots)
3. Beyoncé - Lemonade: 103.5 points (19 list inclusions, 6 number one spots)
2. Frank Ocean - Blonde: 106.8 points (21 list inclusions, 2 number one spots
1. David Bowie - Blackstar: 142 points (18 list inclusions, 6 number of spots)

As usual, there were few surprises in the top ten albums of 2016, even relative placement was as expected. There were two albums, however, that I did not expect to see in the top ten. The first is The 1975's I Like It When You Sleep for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It. It appears on a relatively low number of lists, but was well-placed when it was included. I remember seeing scathing reviews of their self-titled debut, especially from the British magazine NME. Last year, NME placed The 1975 at the top of their list.

Another surprise for me was Kanye West. I thought that perhaps the music industry's love affair with him would end given the nature of the release of The Life of Pablo. Details of the album changed constantly and, even after it was released, more time would pass before the album was truly completed (is it yet?). I found it tiring, but it's exactly what many praised about the record.

In their place, I would have expected to see Car Seat Headrest, Leonard Cohen, Rihanna, or Mitski, artists who released albums that seemed to get more generous press.

Otherwise, things fell as one would typically expect, with cultural impact, anticipation, and memorials winning out.

My spreadsheet for performing my ranking can be downloaded here.

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