The Best Music of 2011 [Introduction]

Another year of music is in the books. Close enough, anyway.

The so-called authorities have weighed in — now it’s our turn. Rumors on the Internets has gathered a panel of experts, listened to hundreds of albums and mixtapes, and carefully whittled this year’s releases down to identify the best of the best.

All this week, we’ll be counting down the best albums of the year. 

We’ll wind up our rankings just in time for Christmas — so get those iTunes and Amazon gift cards ready! But first, let’s shout out to a ton of great records that sadly didn’t make the cut, talk about our favorite pop and rap singles of the year, and explain the methodology that went into the creation of this list.


Artistic appreciation is inherently a bit subjective and varies a lot from person to person, which is why I threw my Time magazine across the room after reading their top-10 list. Asking just one critic to identify the best music of the year is a mistake because you’ll just end up with that critic’s favorite records (or in Time’s case, seemingly a list of the best-selling and most buzzed-about records of the year without much regard to quality). Equally foolish is the route taken by the usually-brilliant AV Club, which took a strictly mathematical approach, assigning points to top-10 lists submitted by a panel; as a consequence, their list whiffed on many of the best albums of the year but included a record by Britney Spears.

ROTI took a hybrid approach. We gathered a group of music experts based around the great USA. From our headquarters in Boston, we crunched top-10 lists from Brooklyn, Manhattan, DC, LA, Portland, and more, including a missive from a US Navy vessel. Then, exercising my best editorial judgment, I shaped these rankings into a final Top 50 Albums of 2011 list that reflects not only the will of our expert panel but also a general view on the most thought-provoking, rewarding and exciting album releases this year.

You will probably disagree with the particular order I wound up with, which is pretty expected since I know for a fact that most of the expert panel will disagree as well. But hopefully, you’ll enjoy and discover a lot of great music along the way. Feel free to vent your outrage and vitriol in our comments, or to print out the posts and do horrible things to the hard copies.

I’d like to take this moment to thank the expert panel, which includes many ROTI stalwarts and some new abductees: C. Dave, Nils Coq au Vin, Noish, Serious Nihilism, Business Casual, Mikey Jones, DJ Walls of Sound, CVD, JJ Behoy, Izzie B, DBuu, Secret M, GoGoMrPoPo, @drewkolar and many more who might not have even known they were influencing this list when they rocked a new record on Spotify and brought it to our attention via Facebook.

Want to be part of next year’s panel? Just drop me a line on Twitter.


These albums may have failed to attract enough support among our voting panel to make the Top 50, but each has been vetted and approved by at least one member of our panel.

If you haven’t heard these albums and enjoy things that are awesome, I highly recommend that you give them a try.

Selected tracks from these records are waiting for you in our Spotify playlist, which will continue to grow as the week proceeds!

Avon Ladies, Quality Programming
Beirut, Rip Tide
Big K.R.I.T., R4 The Prequel
The Bewitched Hands, Birds & Drums
Booker T. Jones, The Road from Memphis
Das Racist, Relax
Decemberists, The King is Dead
DJ 2-Tone Jones, Shaolin Jazz: The 37th Chamber
Dum Dum Girls, Only In Dreams
Elbow, build a rocket boys!
Ferrari Boys, Ferrari Boys
Florence and the Machine, Ceremonials
Foo Fighters, Wasting Light
Frank Ocean, Nostalgia/Ultra
The Go! Team, Rolling Blackouts
Gotye, Making Mirrors
Hoax, Down
Hoodie Allen, Leap Year
John Maus, We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves
Kate Bush, 50 Words for Snow
Kate Harnevik, You
Lil’ Wayne, The Carter IV
The Lonely Island, Turtleneck and Chain
Mastodon, The Hunter
Megafaun, Megafaun
My Morning Jacket, Circuital
Nuclear Santa Claust, Nuclear Santa Claust
Okkervil River, I Am Very Far
One AM Radio, Heaven is Attached by a Slender Thread
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Belong
Peter Bjorn and John, Gimme Some
Raphael Saadiq, Stone Rollin’
The Roots, undun
Telekinesis, 12 Desperate Straight Lines
Tom Waits, Bad as Me
TV on the Radio, Nine Types of Light
Tyler the Creator, Goblin
Weeknd, House of Balloons
WU LYF, Go Tell Fire To The Mountain
Wugazi, 13 Chambers
Yuck, Yuck

Read more of this post

%d bloggers like this: