2011 in Music: The Albums of the Year

Crowning the best, worst, and most Occupy Wall Street-ish releases in 2011 pop, rock, and rap

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Music's perhaps the easiest art form to argue about, and 2011 in particular was a good year for big debates in pop, rock, and rap. Does modern music have a defining sound? Is it a problem if it doesn't? Is nostalgia killing creativity? Is Lady Gaga a genius or a hack? Is Adele the return of "real music" or just the triumph of the bland? Is Bon Iver too soggy or just soggy enough? Etc.

Instead of ranking the albums of the year, below, I've tried to hit some—some!—of the highlights and lowlights, slotting them into appropriate, if narrow, categories of achievement. Go ahead, argue about it.

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Spencer Kornhaber is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covers pop culture and music. He was previously an editor at Patch.com and a staff writer at OC Weekly. He has written for Spin, The AV Club, and RollingStone.com.

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