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

yearinmusicbanner615.jpg

Tune-Yards/Reuters/AP Images

Atlantic writers survey the biggest stories on their beats See full coverage

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.

Presented by

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.

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Videos

Why Is Google Making Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

More in Entertainment

Just In