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top10ofthetop102011

Alongside PJ Harvey and Tune-Yards, St Vincent was among the leading alternative artists to monopolize critical acclaim

Top 10 of the Top 10s

It's the annual ADM roundup of the critics' 2011 albums lists - the ultimate, definitive Best Of The Best Ofs

Almost the last batch of votes are in, from Tiny Mix Tapes, Under The Radar, Pretty Much Amazing, Bowlegs, The Guardian and God Is In The TV, so it's time to run through the AnyDecentMusic definitive summary of the Best Albums Of 2011 lists.

We've compiled the rankings from 30 magazines, newspapers and websites from our sources to provide a comprehensive reflection of the critical favourites of the year. It's the ultimate "Best of the Best Albums of 2011" chart.

So here's the rundown of the top 50 albums of the year as seen by music reviewers in the UK, US, Canada, Australia and Ireland. And below we give our appraisal of what it all means.

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  1. 471 PJ Harvey Let England Shake
  2. 375 Bon Iver Bon Iver
  3. 247 St Vincent Strange Mercy
  4. 252 Tune-Yards WhoKill
  5. 213 The Horrors Skying
  6. 194 Wild Beasts Smother
  7. 189 Fleet Foxes Helplessness Blues
  8. 178 James Blake James Blake
  9. 173 Metronomy The English Riviera
  10. 156 The Weeknd House Of Balloons

  11. 148 M83 Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
  12. 142 The Antlers Burst Apart
  13. 128 Girls Father, Son, Holy Ghost
  14. 126 Radiohead The King Of Limbs
  15. 115 Kurt Vile Smoke Ring For My Halo
  16. 103 Shabazz Palaces Black Up
  17. 97 Fucked Up David Comes To Life
  18. 95 Tom Waits Bad As Me
  19. 94 Adele 21
  20. 90 Destroyer Kaputt

  21. 90 Katy B On A Mission
  22. 80 SBTRKT SBTRKT
  23. 76 Real Estate Days
  24. 73 Yuck Yuck
  25. 72 Jay-Z & Kanye West Watch The Throne
  26. 72 EMA Past Life Martyred Saints
  27. 67 White Denim D
  28. 64 Drake Take Care
  29. 63 Gang Gang Dance Eye Contact
  30. 57 The War On Drugs Slave Ambient

  31. 56 Laura Marling A Creature I Don't Know
  32. 55 Tim Hecker Ravendeath 1972
  33. 52 Battles Gloss Drop
  34. 51 Arctic Monkeys Suck It And See
  35. 50 Lykke Li Wonded Rhymes
  36. 49 Anna Calvi Anna Calv4
  37. 49 King Creosote & John Hopkins Diamond Mine
  38. 49 Wilco The Whole Love
  39. 46 Wild Flag Wild Flag
  40. 44 The Decemberists The King Is Dead

  41. 43 Josh T Pearson Last Of The Country Gentlemen
  42. 41 My Morning Jacket Circuital
  43. 40 Kate Bush 50 Words For Snow
  44. 40 Lady Gaga Born This Way
  45. 40 TV On The Radio Nine Types Of Light
  46. 39 Beyonce 4
  47. 39 Florence And The Machine Ceremonials
  48. 38 Wu Lyf Go Tell Fire To The Mountain
  49. 38 Wye Oak Civilian
  50. 37 Oneohtrix Point Never Replica

 

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Declared: Uncut, Mojo, Q, The Fly, BBC, Clash, AV Club, Faster Louder, The Skinny, The Quietus, Rolling Stone, Paste, NME, music OMH, Pop Matters, Spin, Prefix, This Is Fake DIY, Pitchfork, No Ripcord, One Thirty BPM, Consequence Of Sound, Tiny Mix Tapes, Under The Radar, Pretty Much Amazing, The Guardian, Bowlegs, God Is In The TV, State, AU Magazine, entertainment.ie, The Line Of Best Fit

* How the chart is calculated: We award a corresponding number of points (20 for No.1, 19 for No.2 etc) to the top 20 albums from each source.

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So what conclusions can we draw about the way the critical mood has swung this year?  What seems clear is that alternative rules the roost. A good seven from the top ten would fall into that loose category, be it alt.rock. alt.folk or alt.pop, with only The Horrors and Fleet Foxes as representatives of what could be termed mainstream / indie music.

This compares markedly with last year, when Arcade Fire, The National, Kanye West et al held sway.
At the top of the chart, we would have been happy to place large amounts of ADM cash sometime back in June on the leading places being claimed by perennial critics' darling PJ Harvey alongside Bon Iver, a more latterday critical favourite.

Despite the strong showing for The Horrors, it has been an otherwise meagre year for bands who make a lot of noise with guitars. And reviewers seem even less drawn to electronica in any form, with M83 the sole representative of the laptop / keyboard manipulating classes figuring in the top 20.

After a strong showing last year with Kanye West, Big Boi and Janelle Monae all figuring in the top 10, hip-hop and R&B are also seriously under-represented - although The Weeknd would appear to have a golden future ahead of them given the acclaim heaped on House of Balloons which, as a giveaway mixtape, it could be argued is not actually an "album" at all.

In the dance world, all the talk has once again been about dubstep and its myriad underground bass music offshoots, while the most overground of dubstep's practitioners,  James Blake and Katy B, are the ones who have taken the plaudits.

The two most surprising omissions from the higher echelons of the chart come from the blues / roots end of the music spectrum: Ry Cooder's Pull Up Some Dust And Sit Down and Gillian Welch's The Harrow And the Harvest, both of which feature not far behind PJ Harvey in our all-time chart while barely mustering a handful of nominations.

So in the eyes of the scribbling classes, 2011 has been the year of the quirky, the off-beat, the unconventional, the experimental, as personified by the likes of St Vincent, Tune-Yards, Wild Beasts and their ilk.

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