We change so much every year, and just as our opinions change on friends, teams and politicians, so do our opinions on pop culture. That’s why, since 2008, I’ve revised my previous year’s top 10 lists. Before we get to the best of what 2012 had to offer, let’s take a look at the best of 2011, with an extra year to mull it all over. In parentheses you’ll notice how much that album has moved from its place last year.
Falling off: Bon Iver – Bon Iver
Look, it’s all very pretty to listen to. But I’m a lot happier now than I was a year ago. I don’t need this album anymore.
10. David Ramirez – SerialBox Presents EP (↔)
No way could I drop this Austin singer-songwriter. Not when his songs are this good and “Fires” forged such a special bond between me and the love of my life.
9. Gungor – Ghosts upon the Earth (↔)
Beyond its importance as Christian album that’s completely unafraid of the real world, Michael Gungor’s album is all about triumph, and that’s what makes it so powerful.
8. Kirk Franklin – Hello Fear (↓3)
Like Bon Iver, this album helped me get through a lot in a dark time in my life. It’s less essential to me now, but that doesn’t discount just how great this album sounds. Kirk remains 100% authentic, in his music and his life.
7. The Roots – Undun (↑2)
Why is it that only independent-minded rap seems to be the only thing that feels real? As much as I enjoyed Watch the Throne—even more than I did when I first heard it, the creators frequently remind you that you’re not invited to the party. The Roots on the other hand take you on a compelling journey, and not just a tour of their pad and private jet.
6. Childish Gambino – Camp (↔)
A startling debut that contains the year’s best beats and rhymes. Even if Community doesn’t last, Donald Glover has a bright future in the rap game.
5. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming (NEW)
Moving up from my honorable mentions is Anthony Gonzalez’s sprawling double album. As with all double albums, some trimming could have improved it, but Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming possesses an overwhelming amount of beauty.
4. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues (↓2)
Was it just my perspective on it last year? I focused too much on the title and not the rays of sunlight that crack through the drawn blinds on this album. It’s a lot brighter than I remember, but again, it’s an album I can leave behind now.
New honorable mentions: Beyoncé – 4, Explosions in the Sky – Take Care Take Care Take Care, Foster the People – Torches, The Lonely Island – Turtleneck & Chain, Moby – Destroyed