One of our favorite December rituals is trying to predict Pitchfork’s year-end Top 10 list. Is it as easy as simply clicking on the Best New Music archive, finding the highest scores and then ranking them in order. Almost!
There are a few other factors that appear to come into play. Will an album be on lots of ballots just because it got a high score? Can an album released in February maintain momentum until December? Did Pitchfork help break the band? Taking those factors into account, here’s my stab at predicting the site’s yet-to-be-published top 10.
It was the highest rated album of the year, so it’s an obvious pick for that reason alone. Throw in the recent Grammy nominations and talk of Pitchfork helping push this music into the mainstream and this seems like a mortal lock.
2. Girls, “Father, Son, Holy Ghost”
3. M83, “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming”
Going strictly by the numbers, these are the next highest rated albums of the year. And these are both acts that Pitchfork has absolutely helped break, M83 being one of the first, way back in 2003.
4. Drake, “Take Care”
It may not have scored as high as some of the rest of the albums on this list but it has the benefit of being released recently, bringing some genre-diversity to the list. Also, everyone seems to love Drake.
5. St. Vincent, “Strange Mercy”
One of only five new albums to break the 9.0 barrier in 2011, yet just three months after its release it seems totally forgotten. Still — stand by your woman.
6. Shabazz Palaces, “Black Up”
This is definitely the most obscure name on the list, but “Black Up” is the most positively-reviewed rap album of the year.
7. James Blake, “James Blake”
After snagging a top 10 spot last year for a series of EPs and scoring a 9.0 earlier this year, a repeat performance seems inevitable, even if his star has dimmed a bit as 2011 trudges on.
8. Tune-Yards, “whokill”
Another album that seems to have lost steam over the course of the year but not enough to lose its top 10 spot.
9. Real Estate, “Days”
The “chill pick” of 2011, beating out Atlas Sound and Panda Bear for the honor.
10. PJ Harvey,“Let England Shake”
The veteran gets the nod over Fleet Foxes, who are “so 2008.”