The Real Top 50 Albums of 2015
Numerically ranking albums—or any artistic medium—is inherently contradictory. By its nature a ranked list implies objectivity, but interpreting and evaluating art is a subjective process. So I felt pretty torn on the morning of December 1st, 2015, when the first wave of “best albums of 2015” lists started to make their way around the internet. On the one hand, I love seeing what my favorite publications regard as the best albums of the year; but at the same time, I can never take their lists completely seriously, since each publication has its inherent biases. Even the most impartial blogs and magazines have their own tastes and personalities that shape their year-end lists: one might be partial to hip-hop artists, while another might value top 40 material over talented indie music (or vice versa), and a third might place a generous emphasis on old white guys from classic rock bands.
As I read through the first batch of these lists, I started to wonder what an unbiased ranking of the year’s top albums would look like. Now, obviously it’s impossible to make a list that’s 100% impartial. And lists from publications like Rolling Stone or Pitchfork carry more weight than any opinionated ranking I could come up with on my own. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there might be a way to get such a list after all—or at least get as close to it as possible.
The solution: round up all of the most credible music blogs and magazines out there, take each of their ranked lists, and mathematically aggregate them into one single list using an objective point system. In doing so, any outliers generated from biases are quickly boiled away, and what’s left is a definitive list of the best albums of 2015, according to the collective minds of the world’s top music critics. These albums aren't ranked according to any one opinion—they’re ordered based on how high they scored on the aggregated compilation of each major year-end list. Each of these fifty albums appeared on multiple lists, and forty-three of them made it into the top 10 of at least one of the lists they were on. Some of the rankings might be surprising, but each is determined mathematically, without any room for subjectivity. Inspired by likeminded year-end aggregations like Album of the Year and the famous Pazz & Jop poll, this list presents a distilled ranking of the "best" albums of 2015, based on only the most revered music publications. And so, without further ado, I give to you: The Real Top 50 Albums of 2015, updated daily for the next 50 days. Be sure to check back each day for a new album review! Click below to see the full list of albums:
The year-end lists from which this aggregated list was generated came from the following music publications: Complex, Consequence of Sound, The Guardian, Mojo, NME, Noisey, Paste, Pigeons and Planes, Pitchfork, Pop Matters, Q Magazine, Rolling Stone, The Skinny, Spin, and Stereogum