A new study has taken on the daunting task of singling out the best individual year in music history, analyzing AlbumOfTheYear.org’s top 250 highest-rated albums and ranking the years that produced the most acclaimed LPs featured on the list.
The study, conducted by online file conversion platform Convertr.org, identifies 2001 as the best year for music, thanks to its pack-leading 10 top 250 releases, including Daft Punk’s Discovery, Bjork’s Vespertine, Jay-Z’s The Blueprint, The Strokes’ Is This It and System of a Down’s Toxicity. 2001 albums averaged a 87.9 rating (out of 100) on AOTY.org, as scored by the site’s users.
1998 came in a close second with nine top 250 albums, including Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Madonna’s Ray of Light, Massive Attack’s Mezzanine and Tori Amos’ From The Choirgirl Hotel, and an average rating of 87.2. 1999 ranked third, with eight albums, Fiona Apple’s When the Pawn … , Mos Def’s Black on Both Sides, Pharoahe Monch’s Internal Affairs and The Roots’ Things Fall Apart among them.
Other particularly noteworthy years include 2012 in fifth place, featuring Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, Frank Ocean’s Channel ORANGE, Swans’ The Seer and Beach House’s Bloom; 2000 in sixth place, featuring Radiohead’s Kid A, Outkast’s Stankonia and The Avalanches’ Since I Left You; and 1971 in ninth place, featuring Led Zeppelin’s Led Zeppelin IV, David Bowie’s Hunky Dory and Leonard Cohen’s Songs of Love and Hate.
Breaking out the top 10 years by decade, the ‘90s cleaned up, making up half the list all on their own; the 2000s trailed at a distance, with just two top 10 years. The ‘60s, ‘70s and 2010s only cracked the list once each, while the poor ‘80s were shut out entirely.
“With the sound of music constantly evolving, it’s interesting to see how timeless many albums are, with listeners today still enjoying tracks from decades past,” said a Convertr.org spokesperson. “From this list, hip-hop seems to be a standout genre, with many hip-hop albums featuring in the top 250. While this data shows the early 2000s and late ‘90s was a great time for music lovers, the quality of the ‘60s and ‘70s should not be doubted in the modern day, either.”
See the complete top 10 below, and revisit Paste’s list of 2001’s best albums here.
The Best Years for Music, per Convertr.org: