Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics: The Best Albums of 2012

Todd Eric Lovato - January 8, 2013

I’ve tallied my five-star rating and play counts and have come up with a list of my most statistically significant albums of 2012. And guess what? The numbers don't lie.

I’m a numbers man. Whether it’s a discussion about the efficacy of Echinacea on the common cold (it might just work) or an argument about the best basketball team of all time (Boston Celtics), I like to follow a particular dogma: Numbers don’t lie.

Of course, Mark Twain recognized the absurdity of this argument, proclaiming, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." None-the-less, this year, I've decided to embrace the data and let the lies, damned lies and statistics inform me on my favorite albums of 2012.

Beneath its drab surface, iTunes contains a wealth of statistics that can reveal information about listening perferences and habits. For example, by sorting play counts, I discover that the most-played songs in my library over the past seven years are Cut Copy’s “Future,” Spank Rock’s “Birfday” and Beck’s “Missing.” Not exactly a Rorschach test, but still interesting.

With the assistance of a really wonkish piece of music software, I find that my favorite genre of music is hip-hop (surprise, surprise), followed by rock (whatever that means these days), electronica (whatever that meant, ever) and jazz. I own 77,219 songs and 15,627 albums, which are most likely to be played around 4 p.m., apparently my favorite listening hour. My music library grows at an average rate of 226 songs a week.

This year, I’ve rated some 230 new albums —that’s some 2,500 songs, or about 166 hours of sweet, sweet scrutiny. I gave five-star ratings to 421 songs, meaning that I fell in love with only about 17 percent of the music I searched out.

The data is in: I’ve tallied my five-star ratings and play counts and have come up with an official list of my most statistically significant albums of 2012. And guess what? The numbers don't lie.

20. THEEsatisfaction “AwE NaturalE”

19. Michael Kiwanuka “Home Again”

18. Dr. John “Locked Down”

17. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti "Mature Themes"

16. Converge “All We Love We Leave Behind”

15. Killer Mike “R.A.P. Music”

14. Christian Scott “Christian aTunde Adjuah”

13. Flying Lotus “Until the Quiet Comes”

12. The Quakers “Quakers”

11. Deerhoof “Breakup Song”

10. Mexican Institute of Sound “Politico”

9. Alt-J “An Awesome Wave”

8. Frank Ocean “Channel Orange”

7. Punch Brothers "Who’s Feeling Young Now"

6. Matthew Dear “Beams”

5. Dirty Projectors “Swing Lo Magellan”

4. Hot Chip “In Our Heads”

3. Lonely Drifter Karen “Poles”

2. Kendrick Lamar “good kid m.A.A.d. city

1. Tame Impala “Lonerism”