Once again, the tricky business of compiling end of year lists comes about. Everyone loves to rant and complain about them, but no publication of any importance would risk being without one. Anything that stimulates debate and excitement about music is of benefit both to a publication and to its readership.
musicOMH has long prided itself on being an anti-specialist publication, covering as much noteworthy music as humanly possible regardless of genre. Although the final albums of the year list will inevitably reflect a broad consensus across the whole team, this year has seen increased coverage not just of genres often casually dismissed as marginal (jazz, world, avant-garde electronica) but also of commercial pop, something often neglected by sites quick to ride the coat-tails of indie PR buzz.
One satisfying trend has been the gradual, cumulative success of some very low-key releases. A prime example is the slow burning word of mouth success of the Mercury nominated Diamond Mine by King Creosote & Jon Hopkins, while the hipsters albums of choice this year may well have been the series of internet-only cult successes from The Weeknd (a third in the trilogy is still expected, but will perhaps now emerge in 2012).
A number of pitfalls inevitably hamper the representative qualities of any end of year list. Albums released near the start of the year tend to be easily forgotten. Albums released too close to the end of the year tend not to be eligible at all, simply because of the need to reach publication deadlines. Even Kate Bush’s 50 Words For Snow is in danger of missing out because of this, but there are other really strong albums in a variety of musical spaces (The Necks, Pinch & Shackleton, MeShell Ndegeocello, Youth Lagoon, Oneohtrix Point Never, even Rihanna) that may struggle to have reached enough ears.
Sometimes there are albums that are too challenging for mainstream tastes, or which have rather modest, intimate ambitions, that also fail to gather enough nominations to get through to a final list.
Over the next few days, those that did make the cut will be revealed. We begin with 50-41 and work our way up, with the complete list and a playlist going live on Friday. Check back for links as the week progresses.
musicOMH’s Top 50 Albums Of 2011 was compiled from the votes of:
Andy Baber, Andrew Burgess, Helen Clarke, Jude Clarke, Christian Cottingham, Ruth Davies, Neil Dowden, Laurence Green, Darren Harvey, Ben Hogwood, Darren Lee, Tim Lee, Michael Hubbard, Steven Johnson, John Murphy, Daniel Paton, Max Raymond, Ian Roullier, Sam Shepherd, Ben Urdang, Fintan Walsh, Rob Watson, Gareth Ware, David Welsh and Martyn Young.
Compilations, EPs, reissues, albums we did not review and albums not available to buy in the UK between 1st January and 21st November 2011 were not eligible for this chart.