Archive for the ‘Year-End Analysis’ Category

Best Music 2013: Vote For The Year’s Top Albums (Part 1) — January Through June Releases

Have Your Say In the Best Of 2013!
On this Veterans Day, we’re giving you, our pop-loving readers, the opportunity to exercise one of your most patriotic and democratic privileges: The right to vote! Yes, it’s finally time to begin sifting through 2013′s album releases, so we — and you — can compile a list of the best ones. As usual, the editors here at Idolator are feverishly compiling their own list of what they consider to be the best popular music had to offer over the past several months. But we’re also eager to let you have your say.

Today we’re posting a readers’ poll containing several albums released between January and June. In a few weeks we’ll also do one up for the key albums that arrived in the latter half of the year. And when all is said and done, we’ll round up what Idolator readers deem to be their 10 favorite records from 2013. So get to voting below!

Note: As this is a two-part poll, it’s also a two-part process. Once you vote, we also want you to leave your thoughts  in the comments box below on why you chose that particular album. We’ll be reading all of your feedback and including it in our final writeup containing your top selections for the Best Albums Of 2013.

So vote below, then let us know why your pick deserves to be in our year-end roundup of the year’s best albums! More »

Vote For The Best Albums Of 2012 (Part 1): January Through June Releases

Voice Up In Our Year-End Poll
The 2012 Presidential Election is officially over, and Barack Obama has emerged victorious in his second run for Commander In Chief. But as far as we’re concerned, you, our pop-loving readers, have one more important poll to hit — our own one, for the Best Albums Of 2012! Sure, as the year winds down, the editors here at Idolator are feverishly compiling their own list of what they consider to be the best popular music had to offer over the past several months. But we’re also eager to let you have your say.

Today we’re posting a readers’ poll containing several albums released between January and June. In a few weeks we’ll also do one up for the key albums that arrived in the latter half of the year. And when all is said and done, we’ll round up what Idolator readers deem to be their 10 favorite LPs from 2012. So get to voting below! More »

Amazon Beats The Christmas Rush, Crowns Neko Case As 2009′s Best

Twangy spitfire Neko Case’s Middle Cyclone was selected by’s editors as the best of 2009, while U2′s No Line On The Horizon was the online retailer’s best-selling album this year. That’s according to a just-released year-end package that jumps the “happy new year” gun by quite a few days. Sure, boosting these albums now will probably be great for the holiday sales, but it’s too bad that publishing the list now means that the likes of R. Kelly’s Untitled and Shakira’s She Wolf didn’t get their critical due. Oh wait, there are no pop-as-pop albums on the editors’ list anyway. Silly me! Top 25s for both lists after the jump.

THE GOOD: It sure is fascinating to see the sales demographics of Amazon out themselves via the Bestsellers list—U2, Susan Boyle, Diana Krall, Bruce Springsteen, and Bob Dylan make up the top five, while younger-skewing top-selling 2009 releases like the Hannah Montana soundtrack, Eminem’s Relapse, and the Black Eyed Peas’ The E.N.D. land at Nos. 16, 24, and 25, respectively. At least all generations can agree on Green Day (No. 6)! And it’s nice to see Case’s editorially beloved album performing well on the sales side, too (No. 11).
THE BAD: In addition to Boyle’s pre-order mania landing her at No. 2; two albums on the bestsellers list have been released in the past few weeks: Michael Bublé’s Crazy Love (release date 10/9, No. 9) and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Night Castle (release date 10/26, No. 12). That sort of implies a low bar for high sales, methinks.
THE WHAAAA? This might be a wild and crazy question to pose, but is Steve Martin’s banjo album really the best of its breed to come out this year?

Best Albums Of 2009 (Editors’ Picks)
1. Neko Case, Middle Cyclone
2. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It’s Blitz
3. Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
4. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart
5. The Avett Brothers, I And Love And You
6. Girls, Album
7. Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion
8. K’Naan, Troubadour
9. Jay-Z, Blueprint 3
10. Camera Obscura, My Maudlin Career
11. Metric, Fantasies
12. Wilco, Wilco (The Album)
13. Passion Pit, Manners
14. Grizzly Bear, Veckatimest
15. The Swell Season, Strict Joy
16. Steve Earle, Townes
17. Sarah Jarosz, Song Up In Her Head
18. Amadou & Mariam, Welcome To Mali
19. Leonard Cohen, Live In London
20. The Horrors, Primary Colours
21. Mastodon, Crack The Skye
22. Iron & Wine, Around The Well
23. V/A, Dark Was The Night
24. The Bird And The Bee, Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future
25. Steve Martin, The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo

Best-Selling Albums Of 2009 (Sales)
1. U2, No Line On The Horizon
2. Susan Boyle, I Dreamed A Dream
3. Diana Krall, Quiet Nights
4. Bruce Springsteen, Working On A Dream
5. Bob Dylan, Together Through Life
6. Green Day, 21st Century Breakdown
7. Dave Matthews Band, Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King
8. Playing For Change, Songs Around The World
9. Michael Bublé, Crazy Love
10. Neko Case, Middle Cyclone
11. Chris Botti, Chris Botti In Boston
12. Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Night Castle
13. Kelly Clarkson, All I Ever Wanted
14. Whitney Houston, I Look To You
15. Van Morrison, Astral Weeks Live At The Hollywood Bowl
16. Hannah Montana: The Movie soundtrack
17. V/A, The Twilight Saga: New Moon soundtrack
18. Leonard Cohen, Live In London
19. Daughtry, Leave This Town
20. Adam Lambert, For Your Entertainment
21. Wilco, Wilco (The Album)
22. Barbra Stresiand, Love Is The Answer
23. Maxwell, BLACKsummers’night
24. Eminem, Relapse
25. Black Eyed Peas, The E.N.D.

The Best Albums Of 2009 [Amazon]
Bestselling 2009 CDs [Amazon]
[HT: Absolute Punk]

“Viva La Vida” Goes Global

vidalavida.jpgColdplay’s Viva La Vida, Or Death And All His Friends was the top-selling album of 2008 worldwide, selling 6.8 million copies, according to data released today by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which represents some 1,400 record companies around the globe. Coming in behind Coldplay were AC/DC’s Black Ice; the soundtrack to the movie version of Mamma Mia!; Duffy’s Rockferry; and Metallica’s Death Magnetic. The top 20 albums and top 10 digital songs after the jump. (I swear this is going to be the last 2008 wrapup we run.)

THE GOOD: Viva La Vida sold more copies than the previous year’s No. 1 album, the soundtrack to High School Musical 2. Hey, these days, it’s any port in a storm, right?
THE BAD: People around the world sure do love operatic boy band Il Divo, whose The Promise sold more around the world than recent efforts by the Jonas Brothers and Taylor Swift.
THE WHAAAA? The soporific “Apologize”—No. 5 on the global tracks chart—was credited to Timbaland, with nary a mention of OneRepublic, a.k.a. the band that actually crafted the song that housed his occasional “ay”-ing. Good thing Ryan Tedder has that prolific songwriting career!

The top 20 albums:
1. Coldplay, Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends
2. AC/DC, Black Ice
3. Various Artists, Mamma Mia! The Movie Soundtrack
4. Duffy, Rockferry
5. Metallica, Death Magnetic
6. Leona Lewis, Spirit
7. Amy Winehouse, Back To Black
8. Various Artists, High School Musical 3: Senior Year
9. Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III
10. Rihanna, Good Girl Gone Bad
11. Madonna, Hard Candy
12. Beyonce, I Am… Sasha Fierce
13. P!nk, Funhouse
14. Guns N’ Roses, Chinese Democracy
15. Britney Spears, Circus
16. Jack Johnson, Sleep Through The Static
17. Il Divo, The Promise
18. Taylor Swift, Fearless
19. Jonas Brothers, A Little Bit Longer
20. Various Artists, Camp Rock OST

The top 10 tracks:
1. Lil Wayne, “Lollipop”
2. Thelma Aoyama, “Sobaniirune”

3. Flo Rida feat. T-Pain, “Low”
4. Leona Lewis, “Bleeding Love”
5. Timbaland, “Apologize”
6. Greeeen, “Kiseki”

7. Katy Perry, “I Kissed A Girl”
8. Alicia Keys, “No One”
9. Usher feat. Young Jeezy, “Love In This Club”
10. Chris Brown, “With You”

Viva La Vida top-selling album of 2008 [IFPI]

Pazz & Jop 2008 Confirms Our Suspicions

Well, the Village Voice‘s annual music-critics poll is here, and… it’s about what you would have suspected. In an oddly Grammy-like move, the top single, M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes,” is actually from 2007, and benefits from 50 carryover votes. And following the paper’s arguably racist cover from its 2006 P&J issue, TV on the Radio took the top album slot in what can only be described as a landslide, beating No. 2 Vampire Weekend by 669 points and 49 mentions. Consensus!

The rest of the albums list is a shuffled collection of the usual suspects (Portishead, Bon Iver, Lil Wayne) plus the obligatory Boomer babies, which this year includes a Dylan bootleg, My Morning Jacket, and, uh, Randy Newman? Grammier and Grammier!

The real action, of course, is in the singles list, which would’ve been considerably tighter had M.I.A. not grabbed those carryover votes. T.I. lands two songs in the top 20, which is nice, but overall there’s a feeling of confirmation rather than judgment. These are songs we all know.

Other than that, Simon Reynolds talks about Vampire Weekend, Tom Breihan talks about Lil Wayne, and various political conclusions are drawn from the popularity of certain songs. In 2009, we’re supposed to stick together. So let’s just say it’s all good, huh?

1. TV On The Radio, Dear Science
2. Vampire Weekend
3. Portishead, Third
4. Erykah Badu, New Amerykah Vol. 1: Fourth World War
5. Fleet Foxes
6. Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III
7. Santogold
8. Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago
9. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!
10. Kanye West, 808s & Heartbreak
11. Deerhunter, Microcastle / Weird Era Cont.
12. Randy Newman, Harps & Angels
13. The Hold Steady, Stay Positive
14. No Age, Nouns
15. Girl Talk, Feed The Animals
16. My Morning Jacket, Evil Urges
17. MGMT, Oracular Spectacular
18. Hercules & Love Affair
19. Raphael Saadiq, The Way I See It
20. Bob Dylan, The Bootleg Series, Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs – Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006
[the rest]

1. M.I.A., “Paper Planes”
2. Estelle feat. Kanye West, “American Boy”
3. Beyoncé “Single Ladies”
4. MGMT, “Time To Pretend”
5. Lil Wayne, “A Milli”
6. Santogold, “L.E.S. Artistes”
7. Hercules & Love Affair, “Blind”
8. Coldplay, “Viva La Vida”
9. Kanye West, “Love Lockdown”
10. Fleet Foxes, “White Winter Hymnal”
11. Portishead, “Machine Gun”
12. Hot Chip, “Ready For The Floor”
13. T.I. feat. Rihanna, “Live Your Life”
14. T.I., “Whatever You Like”
15. Rihanna, “Disturbia”
16. Death Cab For Cutie, “I Will Possess Your Heart”
17. Adele, “Chasing Pavements”
18. MGMT, “Electric Feel”
19. Pink, “So What”
20. Vampire Weekend, “Oxford Comma”
[the rest]

Pazz & Jop 2008 [Village Voice]

Lil Wayne, Taylor Swift Do Their Part To Save The Music Industry

Nielsen SoundScan has released its year-end numbers for music sales, and perhaps unsurprisingly, they aren’t all that great—no albums cracked the three-million-sold mark this year, with Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter III almost getting there (2.874 million) and every other album in the top 10, um, not. Thanks to SoundScan’s Dec. 31-to-Dec. 28 chart year, the top single was Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love,” which shifted 3.42 million digital singles and bested Wayne’s “Lollipop” by some 260,000 units. Top 10s after the jump.

THE GOOD: Perhaps most intriguing to me was the number of latecomers that showed up in the album chart’s top 10: Taylor Swift’s Fearless, released Nov. 11, came in at No. 3; AC/DC’s Black Ice, released Oct. 20, ended the year at No. 5; and Beyoncé’s I Am…Sasha Fierce, which didn’t come out until a week and a half before Thanksgiving, squeaked into the No. 10 spot.
THE BAD: Album sales? Down 14%. Overall album sales, which include “track equivalent albums”? Down 8.5%. But hey, vinyl LP sales were up 89%! Of course the 1.88 million LPs sold represents about .43% of the total album picture, but just think of what this’ll mean for the heightened presence of that Animal Collective vinyl release on Tuesday!
THE WHAAA? Rihanna may have been the top-selling digital tracks artist, selling 9.941 million copies of her various radio-ready hits in single-serving format, but her album sales were nowhere near that, even with the reworking of Good Girl Gone Bad that tacked on the seemingly inescapable “Disturbia” and that Maroon 5 song that went pretty much nowhere. Maybe we can blame Adam Levine for this, since his track was the only “album-only” track on that reissue?

1. Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III (2.874 million)
2. Coldplay, Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends (2.144 million)
3. Taylor Swift, Fearless (2.112 million)
4. Kid Rock, Rock N Roll Jesus (2.018 million)
5. AC/DC, Black Ice (1.915 million)
6. Taylor Swift (1.597 million)
7. Metallica, Death Magnetic (1.565 million)
8. T.I., Paper Trail (1.522 million)
9. Jack Johnson, Sleep Through the Static (1.492 million)
10. Beyoncé, I Am…Sasha Fierce, (1.459 million)

1. Leona Lewis, “Bleeding Love” (3.42 million)
2. Lil Wayne feat. Static Major, “Lollipop” (3.161 million)
3. Flo Rida feat. T-Pain, “Low” (2.979 million)
4. Katy Perry, “I Kissed A Girl” (2.977 million)
5. Coldplay, “Viva La Vida” (2.914 million)
6. Rihanna, “Disturbia” (2.766 million)
7. T.I., “Whatever You Like” (2.682 million)
8. Jason Mraz, “I’m Yours” (2.655 million)
9. Jordin Sparks & Chris Brown, “No Air” (2.612 million)
10. Pink, “So What” (2.59 million)

1. Rihanna (9.941 million)
2. Taylor Swift (8.793 million)
3. Kanye West (6.876 million)
4. Chris Brown (6.811 million)
5. Britney Spears (6.284 million)
6. Jonas Brothers (6.058 million)
7. Coldplay (5.933 million)
8. Katy Perry (5.840 million)
9. Leona Lewis (5.027 million)
10. Jordin Sparks (4.918 million)

2008 U.S. Music Purchases Exceed 1.5 Billion; Growth in Overall Music Purchases Exceeds 10% [Marketwatch]

My Own Private 2008: Hey, There Were Actually Some Really Good Parts!

When 2008 started, I was sure it was going to be awesome. “It’s going to be two-thousand-great,” I told anyone who would listen, ignoring the various signs (MTV ringing in the New Year with Tila Tequila, hints of economic collapse, etc.) that things wouldn’t exactly go as planned. Or even be much good at all. But at least there was music to help the seemingly endless parade of bad news plod along a bit more jauntily, right?

THE GOOD: Getting back into R & B full-throttle thanks to Ne-Yo, Erykah Badu, Estelle, and Solange; Ida Maria’s twitchy “Oh My God,” which I am going to try and have every person I know hear at least once over the course of the coming months; Prince and Jarvis Cocker owning gigantic open spaces; Ne-Yo turning girls into goo.
THE BAD: You don’t want to hear about the bad aspects of my 2008. (And honestly, typing a blow-by-blow out would just depress me all over again.) So instead I’ll note that I often hate making lists because even though they’re supposed to be overviews, they’re inevitably of the specific moment at which the list was made, which means that completely worthy entrants will get slighted, or pushed out by space limitations, etc. Here’s a “sorry” to Black Mountain’s In The Future, the Air Miami demos that were reissued by Teen Beat, Panic At The Disco’s Pretty. Odd., Deastro’s “The Shaded Forests,” The Academy Is…’s Fast Times At Barrington High, Jazmine Sullivan’s “Bust Your Windows,” and the Robin Thicke record that was mysteriously forgotten about by everyone.
THE WHAAAA? Before August, if you had said that I would have put Billy Joel on any list that didn’t count down the reasons my ninth-grade social studies class was completely absurd (hi there, three-day lesson on “We Didn’t Start The Fire”), I would have laughed so, so hard. And yet, his show at Shea Stadium was totally solid, not only because of his undeniable showmanship but for the ways it stoked my nostalgia about growing up on Long Island.

1. Ne-Yo, Year Of The Gentleman (Def Jam)
2. Portishead, Third (Mercury)
3. Santogold (Downtown)
4. Solange, Sol-Angel And The Hadley St. Dreams (Geffen)
5. High Places, 03/07-09/07 / High Places (eMusic Selects / Thrill Jockey)
6. Erykah Badu, New Amerykah Vol. 1: Fourth World War (Motown)
7. Fall Out Boy, Folie A Deux (Island)
8. Hercules & Love Affair (DFA)
9. Estelle, Shine (Atlantic)
10. Beach House, Devotion (Carpark)
11. Kanye West, 808s & Heartbreak (Roc-A-Fella)
12. Maybe It’s Reno (Teen Beat)

1. Ida Maria, “Oh My God” (RCA UK)
2. Lloyd ft. Lil Wayne, “Girls Around The World” (Universal)
3. The Duke Spirit, “The Step And The Walk” (Artist First)
4. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, “Dig!!! Lazarus, Dig!!!” (Anti-)
5. Lykke Li, “Little Bit” (Atlantic)
6. Sybris, “Oh Man!” (Absolutely Kosher)
7. Headlights, “Cherry Tulips” (Polyvinyl)
8. TV On The Radio, “Golden Age” (Interscope)
9. Beyoncé, “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” (Sony)
10. Gym Class Heroes ft. Estelle, “Guilty As Charged” (Fueled By Ramen / Atlantic)
11. Girls Aloud, “The Promise” (Polydor UK)
12. Alphabeat, “Fascination” (EMI Europe)

1. Prince @ Empire Polo Field, Indio, Calif.
1. Jarvis Cocker @ Union Park, Chicago
3. Ne-Yo @ Madison Square Garden, New York
4. Fall Out Boy @ North Star Bar, Philadelphia
5. Kirsten Ketsjer @ Mohawk, Austin, Texas
6. Portishead @ Empire Polo Field, Indio, Calif.
7. Wye Oak @ Union Hall, Brooklyn, N.Y.
8. Ponytail @ Ms. Bea’s, Austin, Texas
9. Billy Joel @ Shea Stadium, Flushing, N.Y.
10. Black Mountain @ Empire Polo Field, Indio, Calif.
11. Mussels @ Homeslice Pizza, Austin, Texas
12. Bring Me The Horizon @ Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y.

Do Year-End Lists Suffer From Seasonal Affective Disorder?

I like You & Me, by the Walkmen, but seeing it on so many year-end lists made me a little suspicious. After all, it seems almost designed to appeal to anyone listening to it in November or December. It’s not only a wintry album, warm and soft and a little bit logy, like you’ve just eaten a big turkey dinner—but there are even explicit references to the holiday season in there, including a whole song about New Year’s. Since year-end lists get made in precisely this period, and the album does sound uniquely good on a snowy day, it made me wonder if the idea of best albums lists really being “best winter albums” lists was a widespread problem.

One way to find out would be to see what the lists would be like if they were made around, say, the fourth of July. There’s probably a better way to do this, but my first thought was just to check Metacritic and see what the top albums were around the middle of the year. This seems fair; their top-rated albums for 2008 look pretty much like everyone else’s.

And so, here are their top-rated albums from January 1 to July 4 of 2008. At first it might seem a little off, but once you scratch the reissues and the oddballs (Protest the Hero?), you’ll see a lot of albums that ended up on year-end lists, too: Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Hercules and Love Affair, and Portishead are all in the top ten, which could make up half of a fairly representative year-end list’s top 10, too. But maybe these are just wintry albums in disguise, I thought; maybe they came out in the early part of the year. Nope: one January, but then it’s nothing but April and June. We can quibble over mood, but there’s no apparent bias in the release date.

The answer to the question then, would seem to be no. Music critics may suffer from certain downbeat tendencies, but year-end lists have no particular lean toward November and December.

Best Albums of 2008 [Metacritic]

Hey Everybody, It’s Time To Argue Over Pitchfork’s Best Albums List

This is what you’ve all been waiting for, right?

THE GOOD: Nos. 50-41 would have made an awesome alternate-universe top 10, what with Marnie Stern, Ponytail, High Places, and Beach House all being within. Alas.
THE BAD: I will not quibble with the No. 1 choice and the reasons for its placement being wholly attributed to its comforting throwback nature (“The threads of Brian Wilson’s intricate coastal pop, Appalachian folk, modern indie rock, Grateful Dead jams, and other influences are masterfully synthesized in the band’s harmonies and simply orchestrated but constantly shifting instrumental arrangements”… “pastoral tendencies”); instead, I will just chalk its absurdly high placement up to “yet another reason why this year needs to be put out to pasture ASAP.”
THE WHAAA? Those who “follow” Pitchfork as a hobby probably won’t be surprised by any of the picks for the top 10—the fake ‘Fork top 10 posted by the NME earlier this week, which was reportedly based off the site’s highest-numbered reviews of the year, had a remarkable overlap with the real one. It even got No Age’s No. 3 ranking right! (The only album from the proposed top 10 that didn’t make the real one: Fucked Up’s The Chemistry Of Common Life, which came in at No. 17.)

1. Fleet Foxes, Sun Giant EP / Fleet Foxes
2. Portishead, Third
3. No Age, Nouns
4. Cut Copy, In Ghost Colours
5. Deerhunter, Microcastle / Weird Era Cont.
6. TV On The Radio, Dear Science
7. Vampire Weekend
8. M83, Saturdays = Youth
9. Hercules & Love Affair
10. DJ/rupture, Uproot
11. Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III
12. Lindstrøm, Where You Go I Go Too
13. Erykah Badu, New Amerykah Part I: Fourth World War
14. Air France, No Way Down
15. Crystal Castles
16. Vivian Girls
17. Fucked Up, The Chemistry Of Common Life
18. The Mae Shi, HLLYH
19. The Walkmen, You & Me
20. Fuck Buttons, Street Horrrsing
21. Kanye West, 808s & Heartbreak
22. Santogold
23. Hot Chip, Made In The Dark
24. Gang Gang Dance, Saint Dymphna
25. Titus Andronicus, The Airing Of Grievances

(26-50 are at the link.)

The 50 Best Albums Of 2008 [Pitchfork]

“Patrol” Picks 50 Records That Have Gotta Have Faith Of Some Sort

Earlier this month, we took a look at Christianity Today‘s best-of list, which seemed to judge records on an “is this Christian enough?” scale as much as it did musical merit. To balance that out, the online music mag Patrol serves up a list that looks at vaguer connections between faith and music. Patrol started off analyzing the fringes of the Christian music biz (it was called CCM Patrol then), but now it has a broader aim, tackling New York City from a faith-based perspective. Their list’s intro shows their disdain for the Christian mainstream, although at this point, you have to wonder which artists they’re talking about. CCM Magazine bit the dust this year, turning into a digital shell of its former self, and other publications working the Nashville center of the biz aren’t exactly lauding the work of Michael W. Smith these days either. Patrol goes a bit more obscure than Christian Music Today or (the horribly named) Jesus Freak Hideout, but by and large, the same discs lauded by the establishment are showing up on Patrol‘s list too. I understand the intent, but labeling your list the best “faith-inspired” albums doesn’t mean much when there’s only one “faith” represented.

THE GOOD: There really are a lot of quality discs in the mix here: Deas Vail (No. 45), The Welcome Wagon (No. 27), and Doug Burr (No. 8), to name a few. It’s almost like a case could be made with this list that Christian music—I mean “faith-based” music—doesn’t really suck as bad as advertised. Plus, the Jonas Brothers made the list (No. 42)!.
THE BAD: On the other hand, you can tell that there’s a certain style to the genre on its indie fringes, and that style is singer-songwritery folk. There are exceptions, but all in all, there’s a very Paste-y sound dominating the proceedings. If the point is to poke the mainstream, championing a different, but no less cliched aesthetic as an alternative seems to defeat the purpose. (Case in point: Recommending Francesca Battistelli (No. 44), an act seemingly engineered in a lab to emulate the success of Sara Bareilles.)
THE WHAAA?: How far can you stretch the idea of “faith-inspired” until the idea has no meaning? Joseph Arthur seems to have little connection to Christian circles, and if there’s a connection between the Mae Shi and a personal Lord and Savior, I’ve never seen it mentioned in any of their press. Next to those dubious connections, you have Richard Swift, who’s done everything possible to distance himself from the Christian-music world. I get the aim, and there’s an impossibility to trying to discern who is in and out, but the standards here still teeter on the absurd like the lists they’re aiming to out-cred.

1. Brooke Waggoner, Heal for the Honey
2. Son Lux, At War with Walls & Mazes
3. Delta Spirit, Ode to Sunshine
4. The Mae Shi, HLLLYH
5. Sandra McCracken, Red Balloon
6. The Khrusty Brothers
7. Ben Shive, The Ill-Tempered Klavier
8. Doug Burr, The Shawl
9. Rue Royale
10. Family Force 5, Dance or Die
11. Bodies of Water, A Certain Feeling
12. Soporus, Atomove Elektrarne EP
13. Brooke Fraser, Albertine
14. Anathallo, Canopy Glow
15. Andy Shauf, Darker Days
16. Waterdeep, Pink & Blue
17. Aaron Espe, Songs from A Small Town
18. Denison Witmer, Carry the Weight
19. Cloud Cult, Feel Good Ghosts
20. William Fitzsimmons, The Sparrow and the Crow
21. PlayRadioPlay!, Texas
22. Copeland, You Are My Sunshine
23. Joseph Arthur & The Lonely Astronauts, Temporary People
24. Cotton Jones Basket Ride, The River Strumming
25. My Brightest Diamond, A Thousand Shark’s Teeth
26. Damien Jurado, Caught in the Trees
27. The Welcome Wagon, Welcome to the Welcome Wagon
28. Rosebuds, Life Like
30. Thrice, The Alchemy Index, Vol. III & IV: Air & Earth
31. Cold War Kids, Loyalty to Loyalty
32. Kevin Max, The Blood
33. Anberlin, New Surrender
34. Underoath, Lost in the Sound of Separation
35. Tyler Burkum, Darling Maybe Someday
36. House of Heroes, The End is Not the End
37. Colour Revolt, Plunder, Beg & Curse
38. Richard Swift, Richard Swift as Onasis
39. Starflyer 59, Dial M
40. Elsa Jayne
41. The New Frontiers, Mending
42. Jonas Brothers, A Little Bit Longer
43. The Lassie Foundation, Jetstreams, Three Wheels EP
44. Francesca Battistelli, My Paper Heart
45. Deas Vail, White Lights EP
46. Grits, Reiterate
47. Jars of Clay, Closer EP
48. Bethany Dillon, So Far: The Acoustic Sessions
49. Jon Foreman, Spring & Summer
50. Relient K, The Birds and the Bee Sides

The Best Faith-Inspired Albums of 2008 [Patrol]