Ladies and gentlemen, we don't have a winner.
As the year in music 2011 draws to a close, the biggest news is that — unlike 2010's near universal anointing of Arcade Fire's The Suburbs — there was no such unanimous consensus amongst music critics, regarding a clear-cut choice for the year's best album.
Adele's 21 was of course, still the biggest story of 2011. The come-from-nowhere chart dominance of "Rolling In The Deep" alone all but guaranteed that.
But Adele was only one of several new talents — including Florence Welch of Florence And The Machine — to emerge in a big enough way this year, to lead some veteran observers to label 2011 as being "the year of the big voice." Somewhere out there, a guy living alone in his Mom's basement was heard saying "Oh, Snap!" to that.
The untimely death of Amy Winehouse no doubt played at least some role in this. In 2011, both critics and fans searched far and wide, in the hopes of finding that fresh, new voice ready to fill the surprisingly huge void that Winehouse left behind. Meanwhile, a mostly older generation of classic rock fans mourned the year's other biggest loss — that of saxophone player Clarence Clemons, otherwise known as the "Big Man" of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band.
But even with Adele's huge commercial and critical breakthrough this year, this was still not enough to solidify 21 as the odds-on choice for Album of the Year. Instead, when one scans through the various year-end lists already making the rounds out there, several names seem to pop up repeatedly. Some of the most often mentioned, also made my own top ten this year (Kate Bush, Tom Waits), while others (most notably PJ Harvey's Let England Shake) did not.
The best news about 2011 though, was that once you managed to get past the seemingly endless string of mindless pop-candy out there from Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and the like, there was still a surprisingly ample amount of great music. Other than the fact that Springsteen is touring with the E Street Band, and Bon Jovi is thankfully alive and well (ditto for Bon Iver), we still don't know a lot about what 2012 will bring yet.
In the meantime, these were the ten albums that spent the most time in heavy rotation on my CD player. Sorry, the Rockologist doesn't do iPods.
10. The Black Keys - El Camino
A very late entry, from a nonetheless very worthy contender. Guitar. Drums. Danger Mouse. Big Ass Sound. Any Questions?