Music Critics’ Favorite Albums of 2018

It’s overwhelming to see so many different “Best Albums of 2018” rankings published by different music critics. More than a thousand albums appear on more than a hundred lists, and still many of 2018’s phenomenal albums are nowhere to be found (7 of my 10 personal favorites didn’t appear on any lists I saw).

The truth is there is just an incredible amount of amazing music created every year. But every fan loves different music. The hard part is finding the music you’ll love the most. That’s why we created Upbeat, a fun new web app that learns your unique taste in music and matches you with fans who love the music you love so you can (1) discover new music from fans whose taste is actually relevant to you and (2) meaningfully share the music you love with people who will care.

There is no such thing as the “best” album of the year. Taste in music is subjective. “Best” is objective. But by consolidating the many “Best Albums of 2018” lists, we can identify the most critically acclaimed albums of 2018.

I performed an analysis of 50+ “Best Albums of 2018” rankings (see end of post for source links). An album earned points each time it was mentioned on a “Best Albums of 2018” list. I used the following weighted points system to calculate a total score for each album.

Points System

This post includes audio for the top 25 albums, Spotify links to artists/albums, and links to the original “Best Albums of 2018” sources.

Enjoy!

Note: Album of the Year does a great job aggregating this information with a similar methodology. The one thing missing from their site that I included here is embedded audio for fans to listen to all albums from one page.


1: Be the Cowboy by Mitski

Score: 3,878

Highlights

Ranked #1 album of the year by Consequence of Sound.
Ranked #1 album of the year by FLOOD Magazine.
Ranked #1 album of the year by Pitchfork.
Ranked #1 album of the year by The Line of Best Fit.
Ranked #1 album of the year by Treble Zine.
Ranked #1 album of the year by Vinyl Me, Please.
Ranked #1 album of the year by Vulture.


2: Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe

Score: 3,856

Highlights

Ranked #1 album of the year by Albumism.
Ranked #1 album of the year by Associated Press.
Ranked #1 album of the year by NPR.
Ranked #1 album of the year by The New York Times’ Jon Pareles.
Ranked #1 album of the year by Spectrum Culture.


3: Golden Hour by Kacey Musgraves

Score: 3,313

Highlights

Ranked #1 album of the year by American Songwriter.
Ranked #1 album of the year by Stereogum.
Ranked #1 album of the year by Variety’s Andrew Barker.


4: DAYTONA by Pusha T

Score: 3,283

Highlights

Ranked #1 album of the year by Complex.
Ranked #1 album of the year by Dummy.
Ranked #1 album of the year by Highsnobiety.


5: Honey by Robyn

Score: 2,423

Highlights

Ranked #1 album of the year by Slant Magazine.
Ranked #1 album of the year by Variety’s Jem Aswad.


6: Invasion of Privacy by Cardi B

Score: 2,409

Highlights

Ranked #1 album of the year by The Ringer.
Ranked #1 album of the year by Rolling Stone.
Ranked #1 album of the year by TIME.


7: Double Negative by Low

Score: 2,055

Highlights

Ranked #1 album of the year by Drowned in Sound.
Ranked #1 album of the year by Soundblab.


8: OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES by SOPHIE

Score: 1,822

Highlights

Ranked #1 album of the year by Tiny Mixed Tapes.


9: Sweetener by Ariana Grande

Score: 1,718

Highlights

Ranked #2 album of the year by PAPER.


10: 7 by Beach House

Score: 1,676

Highlights

Ranked #1 album of the year by The A.V. Club.


11: Joy as an Act of Resistance. by IDLES

Score: 1,607

Highlights

Ranked #1 album of the year by Louder Than War.
Ranked #1 album of the year by Northern Transmissions.


12: El Mal Querer by ROSALÍA

Score: 1,483

Highlights

Ranked #2 album of the year by Dummy.


13: Negro Swan by Blood Orange

Score: 1,468

Highlights

Ranked #4 album of the year by Clash.


14: Devotion by Tirzah

Score: 1,467

Highlights

Ranked #1 album of the year by Gorilla vs. Bear.
Ranked #1 album of the year by Mixmag.
Ranked #1 album of the year by Vinyl Factory.


15: Whack World by Tierra Whack

Score: 1,382

Highlights

Ranked #1 album of the year by Dazed.
Ranked #1 album of the year by Noisey.


16: Room 25 by Noname

Score: 1,373

Highlights

Ranked #3 album of the year by Bandcamp.


17: Chris by Christine and the Queens

Score: 1,370

Highlights

Ranked #1 album of the year by Clash.
Ranked #1 album of the year by Independent.


18. Wide Awake by Parquet Courts

Score: 1,291

Highlights

Ranked #1 album of the year by earbuddy.


19: Clean by Soccer Mommy

Score: 1,187

Highlights

Ranked #1 album of the year by The New York Times’ Jon Caramanica.


20: Some Rap Songs by Earl Sweatshirt

Score: 1,104

Highlights

Ranked #5 album of the year by Vinyl Me, Please.


21: Astroworld by Travis Scott

Score: 1,098

Highlights

Ranked #1 album of the year by UPROXX.


22: Safe In The Hands of Love by Yves Tumor

Score: 1,075

Highlights

Ranked #2 album of the year by Tiny Mix Tapes.


23: Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino by Arctic Monkeys

Score: 1,061

Highlights

Ranked #2 album of the year by Independent.
Ranked #2 album of the year by NME.


24: Historian by Lucy Dacus

Score: 1,059

Highlights

Ranked #1 album of the year by All Things Considered’s Bob Boilen.
Ranked #1 album of the year by Paste.


25: Heaven and Earth by Kamasi Washington

Score: 1,038

Highlights

Ranked #1 album of the year by KCWR.


Special thanks to the music fans in the “Rdio Lovers” Slack group who helped compile the album rankings. View the original data (940 albums from 76 sources (and counting!)) on this shared Google Sheets document. I used a slightly different methodology, but it’s interesting to see all the data in one spreadsheet.


Sources:

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