The time has come to reveal the 8th edition of “The List,” my ranking of the top ten albums of the past year. The List has grown in terms of scope, design, and credibility since it’s inception, but it still serves essentially the same purpose: it is my way of sharing the music I found to be the most impressive and to have the most impact on me over this past year. That’s really all there is to it when you get down to the basics. Ranking music is always going to be somewhat subjective, so tastes will vary, and just because we disagree, it doesn’t mean that one of us is wrong about the quality of an album. I do try to use some objective means to rank these albums, but in the end a lot of it still comes down to the feelings I have in my gut. I would imagine that most music ranking lists work the same way, and if they don’t I think it might be worth questioning their legitimacy. After all, is not the most important aspect of music the effect it has on its listener?
To give you an idea of what I look for in an album, I will list a few of my qualifications. First, I think that popular music genres such as those represented on this list should be judged not only upon the quality of the music, but also on the quality of the lyrics and the message put forth by the album. Because this is a music list and not a poetry list, the music element weighs more heavily in my decisions than the lyrics do, but it is never the only quality by which I appraise an album. Furthermore, I appreciate cohesiveness. The lyrics should match the music in terms of feeling, and the songs should preferably be related to each other to make the album feel like a connected work. This second idea is not necessary for a great album, but it does make it much easier for the album to be considered great in my mind. Another common tool used for judging the quality of albums is their uniqueness. While uniqueness can affect my rankings, it is not automatically considered a good thing, nor is it considered the most important thing. I think people often fall into the trap of giving more points to something just because they have never heard it before. While this is fine and good if it is something truly great, new ideas can be unimpressive just as easily and ideas that were good before can remain good.
Hopefully that gives you guys some insight into my thought process. Now, it’s time to present the albums of the year. I love commentary, so if you like what I put on the list, comment and tell me why. If you don’t like it, tell me that too! Just make sure your comments are thoughtful. Don’t just say something is stupid. No one wants to read that.
2013 was a solid and surprising year in music for sure. Most of the albums that made this list were not on my radar to begin the year. Hopefully, if you haven’t heard them already, this will be a great introduction for you. Without further adieu, here are this year’s choices: