PopMatters Picks: The Best Music of 2004

BEST MUSIC OF 2004 Intro
by PopMatters Music Critics forward to 100 – 91

TOP 100 ALBUMS

100 – 91 > 90 – 81 >
80 – 71 > 70 – 61 >
60 – 51 > 50 – 41 >
40 – 31 > 30 – 21 >
20 – 16 > 15 – 11 >
10 – 6 > 5 – 1 >


Kanye West


Franz Ferdinand


Jean Grae


Brian Wilson


Loretta Lynn

Lists are a dangerous thing. You don’t have to be a fan of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity to understand that list-making, especially in the world of music, is a suspect act, filled with the snares of subjectivity and relevance and the generally unfair weighting of genres and subgenres and scenes.

And yet… and yet they’re an inevitable result of any gathering of musically-minded individuals who take it upon themselves to critically evaluate new releases for the span of a year. After spending 52 weeks of eager anticipation, swimming in hype, furtive first listens, the swells of revelation and jaw-dropping moments swirling in and out of the mundane and the profound disappointments, and amidst all that, trying to organize your thoughts and opinions into the right words to capture your reactions… well, perhaps it’s habitual behavior, or perhaps it’s the final act of hubris, but the year-end “Best Of” list is the natural outcome.

For any publication with a sufficiently large staff, that final list is almost as much a testament to the diversity and interests of its staff than the albums themselves. Sure, the cream of the crop rises to the top, but when Top 10s are compiled into a big list like this one, it reflects on the diversity of tastes that a group of writers brings to the table. To that effect, 2004’s Top 100 list displays the wide range of tastes you’re likely to encounter at PopMatters. The critical darlings are all present and accounted for, but this year not even a Top 50 could contain the range of good and great releases by artists in hip-hop, rock, pop, folk, and even country, resulting in the Top 100 list here.

As this list of releases attests, 2004 saw impressive and intriguing work from all over the map and all over the world. Many of the names are familiar, whether they’re the hot new artist of the moment or musical legends with storied careers, and all in their way contributed to a year in music that seemed to have a little something for everyone. And if you doubt the final rankings because they don’t fit your own tastes, well, 2004 was a lesson in democracy as well.

   — Patrick Schabe, PopMatters Music Reviews Editor

:. Start here to read about all 100 albums.

TOP 100 ALBUMS

100 – 91 > 90 – 81 >
80 – 71 > 70 – 61 >
60 – 51 > 50 – 41 >
40 – 31 > 30 – 21 >
20 – 16 > 15 – 11 >
10 – 6 > 5 – 1 >

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