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The Only Albums of the Year List You Need

Why read a year-end list recapping 2015 when you can read a list that recaps all those other lists?

by Gavin Haynes
Dec 23 2015, 3:30pm

Collage by Marta Parszeniew

As 2015 slams the brakes on, editors the breadth of the land put their feet up on the desk and just serve you some reconstituted yesterdays: top-10-20-30-50-100 countdowns of stuff that happened over the past 12 months. But as you grind your way through one end of year music supplement banging on about Courtney Barnett's gimlet-eyed observations or hymning Kendrick Lamar's post-Ferguson consciousness after another, your eyes go oblong and there's a sense of intense, giddying deja vu. Haven't we seen it all before? In every other magazine/paper/webzine/cereal box? Like, every year? Forever?

Slice through the crap: This is The Only Top 43 Albums of the Year Countdown You'll Ever Need.

43: Band flagrantly echoing New Order, and doing a slightly better job of it than...

42: New Order.

41: "Came out of the clubs" via the press office of Sony/BMG.

40: The position of the Blur album had they released it in 2005.

39: Whatever replaced the Future Brown record.

38: Helm.

37: Canadians making Canadian Music.

36: Band who really had no idea what their debut album was meant to be about, glad to have it clarified by feature writers who also have no idea what it's about, for a public who seem to have bought it despite neither reading the features nor listening to the lyrics.

35: Decidedly average Norwegian pop ruthlessly promoted by insanely rich Norwegian Culture Board via endless free journo trips to Bergen.

34: Artist "shows a deep knowledge" of alt.country consisting of the same five alt.country records the writer knows.

33: Have you heard? There's this great new band called Iron Maiden and they're totally stoked that cool people are getting into them.

32: Angry band who have previously traded off of being labeled as "the sound of recession Britain," then "the sound of post-Riots Britain," then the "sound of austerity Britain," but now are struggling to maintain their pissed-off literate-punk fanbase as "the sound of weak GDP growth, artificially low interest rates and unemployment falling at a decelerating rate Britain."

31: Collaboration between over the hill band and even older old-timers where the younger ones tragically think the older ones have some cult cache with the kids, while the older ones tragically think the younger ones are still relevant to the kids.

30: Actual bullshit.

29: Fetty Wap.

28: Modish future RnB whose author's astonishing handsomeness surely can't much longer disguise the fact that this is basically Peabo Bryson with fingering.

27: The wrong Future record.

26: Writer furiously tapping out disapproval of life choices of teenage millionaire while stuffing Tesco pastries in own downturned mouth in Walthamstow bedsit.

25: Boldly written up as "the future of [x movement]," somehow implying that a movement dreamt up in a rushed editorial meeting could have a future beyond the few dozen fashion-gullibles trying it on for half a season.

24: Woman whose schtick is that she wants to be a computer.

23: Computer whose schtick is that it wants to be a woman.

22: The album that stuck in the editors' minds because it was on repeat in the office the day the reviews team were retrenched, and in its blissful downtempo electronica seemed to capture the soft melancholy of the endings/new beginnings motif inherent in putting a bunch of 22-year-old minimum wage interns in charge of a national publication.

21: Older band who've released a dire album that the same publication will spend years discounting, downgrading and otherwise erasing from history in order to preserve the classic canon of great albums on which the band's legacy rests, but it's placed quite highly right now to keep all those obsessive fans on-side.

20: Miley Cyrus.

19: Sorry, but this late in the year not many writers have still got one more decent synonym for "synthy" left in their bags.

18: Pop person whose star has been fanned less by her music and more by the fact that she represents an Instagram-friendly lifestyle brand ambassador magazines want to have on their cover to flog more shit to their audience of impressionable 16–25 year olds.

17: Something "ethereal" and "soaked in reverb."

16: Ominous point in human history where people voting for Drake as a joke meet people voting for Drake because they are deadly serious. This is basically how the Nazis got into power.

15: People voting for Jessica Pratt who thought they were voting for Natalie Prass.

14: "Slayed the festivals."

13: Actual position of the Blur album given that they've released it at a point where people neither view it as a desultory little coda to an otherwise impeccable career, nor as a brilliantly raw comeback by a written-off-for-dead act, but instead as a decent little bit of product to jazz up the obligatory mid-set greatest hits transition between "Beetlebum" and "Trimm Trabb" that we all know far too well nowadays.

12: Father John Misty or John Grant.

11: Vince Staples or Earl Sweatshirt.

10: Five years ago this would have been "shiver-inducing." Now, that moment is medicalized/Wikipedia-ized as "ASMR."

9: Oldie who has made the same album a lot of times, but has "escaped his comfort zone" now by adding a few wisps of electronica in post-production.

8: I think this was a mix on Soundcloud. No, I don't know what sSundcloud is, but that's basically all the intern listens to, these mixes. I have no idea. I think it's a website. It's like Spotify for teenagers. It's like Snapchat for horrible music that sounds like someone gargling megabytes in a bin. You can't put it on your iPod, basically. I know. I downloaded the app, though.

7: You never got round to this record. Yet you had every chance to hear this record. The world made it so easy for you. It's literally three clicks away. So why are you so useless at popular culture? When exactly are you gonna learn that the maximized absorption of commonly-sanctified cultural artifacts will preserve you from death and unhappiness?

6: The position of the Blur album had they released it in 2009, back when people were PSYCHED.

Numbers 2–5: Records that were OK. No one went mad for them, but no one disliked them much either, so they swum through the middle course, whereas intense records that some people were truly passionate about but others really hated all ultimately failed to make the cut.

Number 1: Coldplay (Q), Robert Pattison (NME), Sven Vath (Mixmag), Neil Young (Uncut), Neil Young (Mojo), Neil Young (Classic Rock), Neil Young (Home & Garden), some bloke humming transcendentally over distorted tape loops of concrete being laid (The Wire).

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