All I Want For Christmas Is A Top 50 List: The Experts Weigh In On The 50 Best Albums Of 2011

by (@kat_george)

The music loving folk at NPR, Q, Uncut, Stereogum and Paste have all weighed in on the top 50 albums of 2011, and they all have one thing in common — Bon Iver‘s Bon Iver.

It really is the year of the ‘indie’ artist, and following Arcade Fire‘s Grammy win earlier this year, the music industry has shifted its focus to Bon Iver (who is nominated for 4 Grammys in the 2012 awards), a band that, while having been around for a while, has only just begun to enter mainstream consciousness. Perhaps it was Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon‘s collaboration with Kayne West on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy last year, or maybe it just so happens to be that the world is finally ready to grapple with non-pop centric sounds — whatever, 2011 (musically at least) was the year of Bon Iver.

The lists were almost unanimous on a few others — PJ Harvey‘s triumphant return, Let England Shake; Adele‘s world conquering 21; Real Estate‘s attention grabbing Days; James Blake‘s eponymous, trail blazing dubstep debut; Radiohead‘s controversial, generally proclaimed “worst” album, The King Of Limbs and tUnE-yArDs‘ left-of-center w h o k i l l.

Seeking similarities between the lists reveals a very interesting year indeed, especially as it seems that 2011 failed to yield a definitive pop album, but instead favored the genre benders. The lists also proved once and for all that Radiohead can do no wrong, no matter how wrong they do. Adele’s inclusion in the lists is also telling, a signifier that ‘popular’ doesn’t necessarily equate with ‘bad’ in the Da Vinci Code way cynics often assume it does, and that perhaps audiences are still looking for authenticity and genuine talent in their idols. It will be interesting to see where 2012 takes music, and if the trend of favoring genuine musicians and tastemakers over epic acts (Lady Gaga‘s Born This Way, Coldplay‘s Mylo Xyloto and BeyoncĂ©‘s 4 only got one nod each while Kayne And Jay-Z‘s hyped Watch The Throne took a spot on only 2 lists, and Rihanna didn’t appear at all).

Other generally esteemed albums included Feist‘s Metals, Frank Ocean‘s revolutionary mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra, Kurt Vile‘s A Smoke Ring For My Halo and Tom WaitsBad As Me.