The Best Albums of 2011

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Like crops and the stock market, the music industry has years of plenty and years of drought. 1965 saw several new songs that are now considered classic, such as Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” and the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” Can you imagine what that year-end Top 10 list would look like? 1986 on the other hand — well, there was “Venus” by Bananarama. And “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins. It’s probably best if we don’t dwell too much on 1986.

On the quality spectrum, I’d put 2011 somewhere between “decent” and “pretty good.” Nobody released a groundbreaking masterpiece, but we do have a new record to play the next time someone breaks up with us. (Thanks, Adele!) And if we’re in a good mood? Well, the Beastie Boys are still out there, fighting for our right to party.

(MORE: Top 10 Everything of 2011)