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.
This post includes audio for the top 25 albums, Spotify links to artists/albums, and links to the original “Best Albums of 2018” sources.
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
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
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
6: Invasion of Privacy by Cardi B
7: Double Negative by Low
Ranked #1 album of the year by Tiny Mixed Tapes.
9: Sweetener by Ariana Grande
Ranked #2 album of the year by PAPER.
10: 7 by Beach House
Ranked #1 album of the year by The A.V. Club.
12: El Mal Querer by ROSALÍA
Ranked #2 album of the year by Dummy.
13: Negro Swan by Blood Orange
Ranked #4 album of the year by Clash.
15: Whack World by Tierra Whack
Ranked #3 album of the year by Bandcamp.
17: Chris by Christine and the Queens
18. Wide Awake by Parquet Courts
Ranked #1 album of the year by earbuddy.
19: Clean by Soccer Mommy
Ranked #1 album of the year by The New York Times’ Jon Caramanica.
20: Some Rap Songs by Earl Sweatshirt
Ranked #5 album of the year by Vinyl Me, Please.
21: Astroworld by Travis Scott
Ranked #1 album of the year by UPROXX.
Ranked #2 album of the year by Tiny Mix Tapes.
24: Historian by Lucy Dacus
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.
- Album of the Year
- All Songs Considered’s Bob Boilen
- American Songwriter
- Associated Press
- The A.V. Club
- Best Albums Ever
- Consequence of Sound
- Digital Trends
- Drowned In Sound
- Gorilla vs. Bear
- Loud and Quiet
- Louder Than War
- National Post
- Northern Transmissions
- New York Times’ Jon Caramanica
- New York Times’ Jon Pareles
- The Ringer
- Rolling Stone
- Slant Magazine
- Spectrum Culture
- The Line of Best Fit
- Tiny Mix Tapes
- Variety’s Andrew Barker
- Variety’s Chris Willman
- Variety’s Jem Aswad
- Vinyl Factory
- Vinyl Me, Please