Sure, it may be a brand-new year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take some time to reflect back on what was awesome and what was terrible from last year. People love giving their opinions and others love to hate said opinions! It’s pretty much the only thing to read on the internet in the last two weeks of the year, so it’s unsurprising that it’ll carry over to the first business day of the new year. Take Pitchfork’s year-end lists, for example: the staff lists were full of considerate and well-written criticism, which is somewhat dissimilar to the point-of-view of most of the site’s detractors, who still associate Pitchfork with pretentious hipster snark. The 2011 Pitchfork Readers Poll, on the other hand, does without the commentary, and instead compiles lists of the so-called best albums of the year, as well as the most underrated and overrated albums.
The list of Pitchfork’s readers’ favorite albums of the year is not so surprising. Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, M83, James Blake, and Girls all top the list, meaning it was yet again another stellar year for sensitive dudes and their emotions. It’s nice to see that other Pitchfork favorites like St. Vincent, PJ Harvey, tUnE-yArDs, Feist, and Lykke Li also made it into the boys’ club of whatever we’re calling the broader genre of "indie rock" these days.
What’s more entertaining, however, are the next two lists of the most under- and overrated albums. Panda Bear’s Tomboy and Radiohead’s King of Limbs is made it not only in the top 50 but also the overrated and the underrated lists. The Strokes’ Angels is the sole album that only shows up on the underrated list; the others, which range from Childish Gambino to Yuck to Wilco (Wilco! So underrated!), show up on the top fifty list. I guess means that The Strokes are actually the only underrated band of 2011. What a long way they’ve come from the heady days of 2001 when I couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing "Last Nite."
Of course, the list of the most overrated albums is hilarious, because Bon Iver’s self-titled release takes the number one spot just as it does on the top fifty list. The collection of overrated albums also includes popular titles like Adele’s 21, Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto, Foster the People’s Torches, Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter IV, and Florence and the Machine’s Ceremonials, none of which showed up in the readers’ favorites.
So what have we learned here? Some people who read Pitchfork really like Bon Iver! And also some people who read Pitchfork do not like Bon Iver. They also don’t care for bands and musicians with chart-topping albums (unless, in the case of some of them, they are fans of Bon Iver). But I think the most important part is that we can all agree that The Strokes are so underrated; it’s really unfair that no one ever talks about that band! A fascinating study, for sure!