The year’s almost over! Time to snuggle up with someone with some hot chocolate by the fire (or sit on your own in a blanket and turn the central heating on) and make that all-important list. No, not the Christmas card list. Not the big shopping list, nor the list of films you need to watch before the big day. It’s time to make a list of your favourite albums of the year. It all seems like fun and games until you get down to it and have to choose between a technically brilliant album from January, an alright one that you’re still pumped about but just got released and your all-time favourite band’s remarkably average album that was your jam all summer. But never fear, you musically minded stress-heads, because I’ve put together this handy list of stuff to consider.
- How many items? Most people in the music industry create ‘Top 20’ lists. ‘Top 10’ and ‘Top 5’ are also popular. Streaming has had an impact on how fans listen to music, with many preferring to pick out a few singles and shove them on a playlist rather than listening to an album as a whole. If this sounds like you, or you simply don’t have the time or energy to spend ages on it, a ‘Top 5’ may be easier, but avid album-listeners may need a few more.
- Impressive albums vs. albums you just like. Choosing an album you know is ‘good’ because of the technical bits over one you love despite its flaws or simplicity can feel like a cop-out. It sort of is. Obviously, it should still be taken into account, especially if you’re big on that stuff, but don’t forget this is your list to do what you want with! Make a judgement on how important the more objective factors are and stick to it!
- Recency bias. If you’ve seen material from an album played live recently, or if it’s only just been released, you could still be hyped up about it when, in a few months, you won’t think it’s as amazing and will kick yourself for putting it above something else. Alternatively, you may know that certain bands’ albums tend to grow on you and you haven’t listened to it enough! Bear it in mind.
- Leaving bands out. Whether it’s #5, #10, #20 or even #50, that bottom spot is often the most difficult, because you’ve got to decide who to boot. This can be tricky, especially if you end up with some of your favourite artists getting left out, but be honest with yourself. Besides, you’ve only chosen someone else’s hard work to put on a list that’s likely to go no further than your Facebook wall, you haven’t pissed on their family’s Christmas presents (I hope).
- Who even released an album this year? I was sat for about an hour scrolling through my saved albums on Spotify checking I hadn’t got dates wrong. It’s gruelling, but can be quite nostalgic. “Ah, yes. That was released just before Download, and we all got twatted and blasted it all over Blue Camp.” Fun. Have a look at existing lists or join the Heavy That Facebook Group where people have suggested some contenders for your AOTY, which we’ll discuss on the first Heavy, That! Podcast episode, so give that a listen and see if your favourites are popular.
We’ll be revealing our lists – and your AOTY – on the podcast which will be published on 1st January. Until then, happy listing!