Calculating Quality: The Best Albums of 2011

goat Calculating Quality: The Best Albums of 2011

Note: This is a master list, NOT P&P’s list of best albums. That’s coming soon.

This is a thinking man’s piece. If you dislike Excel spreadsheets, calculated averages or goats, then this video of Justin Bieber botching a recitement of the continents is probably more your speed. For the 32% or so that are still with me, your patience and appreciation for brainwave activity is about payoff in spades.

The Purpose

“Best of” lists are great. They’re a chance to catch yourself up any under-the-radar gems you may have missed throughout the year. We turn to these to make sure we’re in the know, and to discover artists or albums we might not have otherwise been introduced to. But honestly, who has enough free time to chew through all of those lists? It’s time consuming and there are often times one-off random albums that get lumped in towards the end and don’t truly deserve to be labeled a “best of”. Our objective was to simplify your review process and let the numbers do the work. This ultimately eliminated the outliers and whittled down ten Top 25 industry lists, into one.

The Process

Our approach was fairly simple. Select a wide sample base, plug the information into a spreadsheet, total how many times each album appeared on a list and then calculate the average rank of each. The order in which the albums appear on this list were determined based on frequency first, average rank second. If multiple albums had an equal number of appearances, then their ordering was determined by average rank. There are some even-ties on here and this is the only time our preference played a factor in order (see example of The Weeknd and Drake at seven and eight, respectively). Otherwise it’s a much less subjective, and far more accurate representation of which albums this year deserved top nod.

The Results

So there you have it. Motive and execution. This shit is like the Voltron of lists, so time to let our findings speak for themselves. Have a look below…

Lists considered: Paste, Mojo, Uncut, Rolling Stone, Q, Amazon, Stereogum, MTV, Fact and NME.

Tom Waits Snip Calculating Quality: The Best Albums of 2011
25. Tom Waits – Bad As Me
(Frequency – 3, Average Rank – 15.0)

The War On Drugs Snip Calculating Quality: The Best Albums of 2011
24. The War On Drugs – Slave Ambient
(Frequency – 3, Average Rank – 14.0)

Anna Calvi Snip Calculating Quality: The Best Albums of 2011
23. Anna Calvi – Anna Calvi
(Frequency – 3, Average Rank – 12.3)

Decemberist Snip Calculating Quality: The Best Albums of 2011
22. The Decemberists – The King Is Dead
(Frequency – 3, Average Rank – 11.7)

Paul Simon Snip Calculating Quality: The Best Albums of 2011
21. Paul Simon – So Beautiful Or So What
(Frequency – 3, Average Rank – 10.0)

Wilco Snip Calculating Quality: The Best Albums of 2011
20. Wilco – The Whole Love
(Frequency – 3, Average Rank – 10.0)

St. Vincent Snip Calculating Quality: The Best Albums of 2011
19. St . Vincent – Strange Mercy
(Frequency – 3, Average Rank – 8.7)

Tune Yards Snip Calculating Quality: The Best Albums of 2011
18. tUnE-yArDs – w h o k i l l
(Frequency – 3, Average Rank – 8.7)

Metronomy Snip Calculating Quality: The Best Albums of 2011
17. Metronomy – The English Riviera
(Frequency – 3, Average Rank – 7.3)

Fucked Up Snip Calculating Quality: The Best Albums of 2011
16. Fucked Up – David Comes To Life
(Frequency – 3, Average Rank – 3.7)

Frank Ocean Snip Calculating Quality: The Best Albums of 2011
15. Frank Ocean – Nostalgia, Ultra
(Frequency – 4, Average Rank – 17.5)

Beyonce Snip Calculating Quality: The Best Albums of 2011
14. Beyoncé – 4
(Frequency – 4, Average Rank – 17.5)

James Blake Snip Calculating Quality: The Best Albums of 2011
13. James Blake – James Blake
(Frequency – 4, Average Rank – 14.3)

Kurt Vile Snip Calculating Quality: The Best Albums of 2011
12. Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo
(Frequency – 4, Average Rank – 11.8)

Wild Beasts Snip Calculating Quality: The Best Albums of 2011
11. Wild Beasts – Smother
(Frequency – 4, Average Rank – 11.8)

Radiohead Snip Calculating Quality: The Best Albums of 2011
10. Radiohead – The King of Limbs
(Frequency – 4, Average Rank – 11.3)

MMJ Snip Calculating Quality: The Best Albums of 2011
9. My Morning Jacket – Circuital
(Frequency – 4, Average Rank – 9.5)

Take Care Snip Calculating Quality: The Best Albums of 2011
8. Drake – Take Care
(Frequency – 4, Average Rank – 8.5)

The Weeknd Snip Calculating Quality: The Best Albums of 2011
7. The Weeknd – House of Balloons
(Frequency – 4, Average Rank – 8.5)

WTT Snip Calculating Quality: The Best Albums of 2011
6. Jay – Z & Kanye West – Watch The Throne
(Frequency – 4, Average Rank – 6.5)

The Horrors Snip Calculating Quality: The Best Albums of 2011
5. The Horrors – Skying
(Frequency – 5, Average Rank – 5.4)

Adele Snip Calculating Quality: The Best Albums of 2011
4. Adele – 21
(Frequency – 5, Average Rank – 4.0)

Fleet Foxes Snip Calculating Quality: The Best Albums of 2011
3. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
(Frequency – 6, Average Rank – 6.0)

PJ Harvey Snip Calculating Quality: The Best Albums of 2011
2. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
(Frequency – 7, Average Rank – 4.3)

Bon Iver Snip Calculating Quality: The Best Albums of 2011
1. Bon Iver – Bon Iver
(Frequency – 8, Average Rank – 7.8)

Related: The Best Songs of 2014 (So Far)
Related: The Best Albums of 2014 (So Far)

  • http://darthwookius.tumblr.com Badgerboy

    I truly love the things you all write on this blog, but if you don’t stop using default crappy typefaces for your feature promo pictures I might just murder a family of bunnies. Before that stuff was acceptable, fit with the unpolished feel of the original layout and design. But now you have nice looking design everywhere with a lot of thought put into it and when you slap some crap like arial onto a photo illustration like that its just plain laughable. You’re better than that.

  • Confusion

    Haha you’re right. It’s my very limited Paint skills. We’re going to start getting official artwork done soon, don’t worry.

    Also, it’s Franklin Gothic.

  • baltazar

    I am begging you lot include “Camp” and “Undun” if possible also “The Dreamer” I mean from the leaks its bound to be amazing:D also not bad list

  • Felipe

    Section .80?!

    You’re stupid

  • Joyce

    Kids, simmer. The post begins with this disclaimer – “Note: This is a master list, NOT P&P’s list of best albums. That’s coming soon.”

  • http://pigeonsandplanes.com/ Monster

    Guys, this isn’t our P&P list. That’s coming later. This was just a fun exercise to show a comprehensive snapshot of other selections from the industry. Feel free to at least read the first sentence of the post before commenting on how stupid it is.

  • baltazar

    I did, I knew hence I said I hope you do in yours, thats what I implied anyway:D

  • http://mostlyjunkfood.com jamarcus garvey

    props to monster

    i hate math

  • Confusion

    I still don’t understand what Monster did. I chalk it up to magic or lies.

  • http://twitter.com/LizCappon Liz

    Interesting to see House of Balloons so high (haha) on the list but Thursday not at all..

  • Justin

    Getting high as shit and working on spreadsheets is pretty awesome actually.

  • snma

    I’m surprised J. Cole’s album or Section.80 didn’t make any of their lists (in the top 25 at least)

  • Craig

    wait, so you did a top 25 list based on how other sites voted and this is like an average?

    I’m confused

  • Confusion

    Yeah, we took 10 other lists, weighted their picks based on how many times the song appeared and at what number it appeared, and made a master list.

  • CK

    IMO you should’ve included even more lists, but this is very cool nonetheless. Too many hipster bands that nobody listens to, but I fully recognize this is the people who made the lists’ fault, not P&P as P&P was just aggregating other lists (which I consider to be very useful and interesting). Love seeing Fleet Foxes at #3, WTT at 6, The Weeknd at 7, and Frank Ocean at 15. But Adele is overplayed and Drake at 8? barf. Same with James Blake at 13 and Tom Waits somehow sneaking in at 25 with a turrible album. But, again, I blame the original listmakers, not P&P. Great piece.

  • http://www.listentoandre.com Andre (PayUp)

    Yeah, this is a pretty interesting approach. Weird that some albums didn’t make it enough on any of those 10 lists though.

  • Huzefa

    Quality idea! mad props for compiling this list and going to the effort of doing this. Looking forward to the P&P list

  • jam

    “XXX” by danny brown needs to be in the top ten somewhere. Also ASAPRocky’s debut.

  • Joey

    Monster, great concept and excellent execution.

  • http://www.pigeonsandplanes.com Monster

    Thanks for the kind comments everybody, glad you enjoyed this odd little experiment we ran.

  • http://entelleckt.com Mike Wyatt | @entelleckt

    Monster, you wouldn’t by chance have a copy of that Excel online so we could add in a few lists and do an extended version of your experiment?

  • http://pigeonsandplanes.com/ Monster

    Mike – I don’t have anything online, but still have the file saved. Email me – monster@pigeonsandplanes.com – and let me know what you have in mind.