Top 100 albums

As promised, I’ll be publishing my Top 100 albums of the decade over the final ten days of the year.

Probably by the end of the next decade most artists won’t be releasing albums any more, so this is the first and probably last time I’m doing this.

Note it’s my Top 100 – I’m not claiming it’s the Top 100. It’s limited by the albums I’ve heard: I’m sure there’s a hundred albums I would have put on if I’d heard them, but I never did; equally I’m sure you could come up with 100 albums you think are better than these. Fair enough. There are also some omissions, in as much as I probably would have put them in the list if I’d actually heard them: so I’ll tell you now there’s no Arctic Monkeys, nor is there any Nick Cave, even though I know he’s had a good run of form over this decade – I just haven’t got round to picking up any of the albums (sorry!).

There are some tricky considerations: what to do about artists who have released many excellent albums? Generally I’m operating a one-album-per-artist rule, unless there are two albums that are sufficiently different that excluding one in favour of the other would make no sense at all. Five artists have two albums in the list, plus one artist present in their own right and again as part of a collaboration.

The NME’s rather pathetic list seemed very biased towards the early years of the decade, presumably because it has a young writing staff who were teenagers in 2001-2 and took the NME’s self-serving promotion of certain bands as the gospel truth. Is my list biased towards any particular years? The breakdown of entries-by-year looks like this:

  • 2000 – 12
  • 2001 – 9
  • 2002 – 13
  • 2003 – 10
  • 2004 – 14
  • 2005 – 8
  • 2006 – 17
  • 2007 – 6
  • 2008 – 5
  • 2009 – 6

Well, there you go – a bit of a bias towards the early part of the decade. I do remember 2006 as a particularly good year for music though, so I’m not surprised it has more albums than other years. In 2007 and 2008 I bought less music than normal, but I’m still not sure if that’s because there was less good stuff around or a result of me not finding it. Finally, 2009 is tricky to judge: I’m sure there will be some good records that I’ve missed to date and pick up on subsequently. But how does one judge such recent records against so many others? I’ve bought more albums this year than in the last two, but a lot seem to me to be very good rather than great. Perhaps six is a slightly low representation – although in some cases artists with albums out this year will find their earlier work represents them under the ‘one album’ rule.

As a further tease, what about the origins of the artists?

  • England – 44
  • Scotland – 4
  • Wales – 6
  • America – 31
  • Canada – 10
  • Other / not sure – 5

Interesting things in there. More from Wales than Scotland. I’ll also tell you there’s a big bias among the American artists towards the middle and latter part of the decade. Canadian bands have a similar bias – the first of those does not crop up until 2003.

Right, none of that will really tell you very much at all. To find out who’s on the list, check out the posts, ten albums at a time, over the next ten days!

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