Three Thousand Albums of The Year (2013 to 2018)

Let’s have some fun with data!

The “Album of the Year List” Project by Rob Mitchum is a great data set in convenient spreadsheet format. From its GitHub page:

What is this project?

My yearly effort to collate the album of the year lists from music publications into a single spreadsheet. It started as a good way to catch albums I missed over the past year, and to have all the lists in one place for easy browsing. One could also use it to make some arguments semi-supported by numbers about music criticism and trends and so forth, if one wished.

The methodology:

It’s mostly data entry. When a publication posts a list, I put the top 50 in the spreadsheet. I only choose lists that meet the following criteria:
– A list voted on by a staff, not a single person.
– A list that covers multiple genres, not just metal, rap, etc.
– At least 50 albums are listed (though I only take the top 50).
– It’s a website or magazine that I’ve heard of (or it looks legitimate).
I just list albums 1-50 according to their rank on the list, no 50 points for 1st, 49 for 2nd funny business. So low numbers are good, like golf. If a list is cowardly and unranked (looking at you, NPR), I just give every album listed 25.

There are lists for the years between 2013 and 2018. I did a bit of number crunching (actually just number counting) and found that the six annual lists of top 50 albums lists add up to to a total of 174 lists where 3,160 albums are mentioned.

  • 1,902 albums are mentioned in a single list, 60% of the total.
  • 466 album appear in 2 lists, 14,7% of the total.

That’s almost 800 albums mentioned in at least three top 50 year-end lists!

There are five albums that appeared in 30 lists or more, all of them in 2016:

  • David Bowie – Blackstar
  • Frank Ocean – Blonde
  • Solange – A Seat at the Table
  • Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
  • Angel Olsen – My Woman

A summary by year:

Top 50 # Lists # Albums
2013 24 441
2014 35 588
2015 20 420
2016 36 602
2017 27 549
2018 32 560
Total 174 3160

Mitchum also lists albums mentioned in top 10 lists. There are 170 top lists collected from this period and 724 albums are mentioned. That’s nearly a quarter of the top 50 albums.

  • 462 albums appear in only one top ten list, 64% of them.
  • 106 albums appear in two lists, 14% of them.

That’s 156 albums mentioned in at least three top 10 year-end lists, an average of 26 albums per year.

There are five albums that appeared in more than 17 lists:

  • War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream (2014)
  • David Bowie – Blackstar (2016)
  • Frank Ocean – Blonde (2016)
  • Beyonce – Lemonade (2016)
  • Kendrick Lamar – DAMN. (2017)

A summary by year:

Top 10 # Lists # Albums
2013 23 96
2014 33 147
2015 19 92
2016 36 117
2017 27 131
2018 32 141
Total 170 724


A graph of total albums by number of lists they appear:


I am quite sure there must be a lot of good to great music in those, 150, 700 or 3,000 albums. Imagine how cool would it be to go through this universe of music without having to search each album one by one and then add them to one (or a hundred) arbitrary playlists first…

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s