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Year End Feedback: Examining 2010′s Best-Of Lists, Part One


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Music critics are starting to name their Top Albums of 2010 and fans are already shaking their fists with fury and nodding their heads in agreement, depending on where their champions place. It's December 1st, so best-of season has only just begun, but here's a rundown of the first five major lists: what's Number One, the biggest surprises and where did Kanye West wind up:

Paste Magazine
Who's Number One: LCD Soundsystem's "This Is Happening." We have no qualms with that.
Where's Kanye?: Number Four, one spot behind Mumford & Sons' "Sigh No More."
Biggest Surprise: Janelle Monae's ambitious "Metropolis"-inspired "The ArchAndroid" came in at Number Two.
Too Low: Deerhunter's "Halcyon Digest" should be way, way higher than Number 45.
Too High: Mumford & Sons over Kanye West, Arcade Fire (Number Seven) and Big Boi (Number 37)? C'mon!

Who's Number One: Former frontman of the Czars John Grant's solo album "Queen of Denmark." Hey, we talked all about the U.K./U.S. cultural barrier yesterday.
Where's Kanye?: "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" did not make the Mojo Top 50. Theories: Kanye missed the deadline, or "Mojo," to paraphrase Yeezy, does not care about black music. (Just kidding, the Roots, Monae, Gil Scott-Heron and M.I.A. all made the list, so probably "Fantasy" missed the deadline.)
Biggest Surprise: Neil Young's most engaging album in years, the visceral "Le Noise," made the list at Number 31.
Too Low: LCD Soundsystem's "This Is Happening" should be in everyone's Top 10, so the Number 36 ranking here is questionable.
Too High: MGMT's "Congratulations" was the year's third best album? Get real. The late-arriving acclaim for Weezer's "Pinkerton" has us all redefining "the sophomore slump," but "Congratulations" simply pales in comparison to its predecessor.

Who's Number One: Art rockers These New Puritans' second LP "Hidden," another solid album that Americans don't like as much as Brits.
Where's Kanye?: Number 34, behind Marina and the Diamonds. Kanye is to the U.K. what These New Puritans are to the U.S., we guess.
Biggest Surprise: One of The Amp's faves of 2010, ex-Beta Band singer Steve Mason's "Boys Outside," was Number 41, beating out My Chemical Romance, Robyn and Gorillaz.
Too Low: Robyn's "Body Talk" and Gorillaz's "Plastic Beach" at 65 and 66, respectively? We demand a recount!
Too High: Salem's controversial "witch house" album "King Night" seems too polarizing (and frankly not good enough) to be Number Eight.

Rough Trade
Who's Number One: Canadian electronic artist Caribou's "Swim"
Where's Kanye?: Not on this list. Rough Trade's list is hip-hop-less.
Biggest Surprise: The inclusion of Bear in Heaven's stellar "Beast Rest Forth Mouth." Check your calendars, guys: That album came out in 2009.
Too Low: At Number 99, it's safe to say there were not 98 better albums this year than Hot Chip's "One Life Stand."
Too High: Putting Darkstar's dub disc "North" at Number Six seems generous, especially ahead of albums by the Morning Benders, Brian Eno and Flying Lotus.

Q Magazine
Who's Number One: The Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs," the first of likely many Number Ones for the Quebec collective.
Where's Kanye?: Umm, absent... we really have to point the finger at early printing deadlines for these "Twisted Fantasy" snubs.
Biggest Surprise: It's safe to assume "Q" will be the only list to feature geezers like Tom Jones' "Praise & Blame" (Number 42), Bryan Ferry's "Olympia" (Number 24) and Peter Gabriel's "Scratch My Back (Number 40).
Too Low: Deerhunter and Mason at Numbers 49 and 50 have us thinking that maybe this list ranks from low to high.
Too High: Brandon Flowers' solo monstrosity "Flamingo" has no business being on any Top Albums of 2010 list, let alone at Number 30.

Five Best of 2010 lists in, and we're shocked Kanye West's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," easily the year's best reviewed album, has not only failed to come in at Number One, he's only placed on two of the five lists. That'll likely change in the coming weeks.

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