The Six Most Decisive Wins In Pazz and Jop History

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Not quite
Having spent the last two weeks poring through Pazz & Jop 2010, I've learned everything from the two albums most statistically similar to a bootleg compilation of early Bob Seger (those would be Flockaveli and Ke$ha's Animal/Cannibal combo) to the number of writers who ended their comments with an ironic "Get off my lawn!" (surprisingly, only two). As fun as those pieces of information might be, the most significant statistic this year remains the record-setting margin by which Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy won the albums poll.

In 1971's inaugural P&J, Who's Next topped Sticky Fingers 540 points to 332, a margin of victory that would not be overcome until 1987, when Prince's Sign 'o' the Times accumulated 1.63 times as many votes as Bruce's second-place Tunnel of Love. That record survived the '80s, but the last two decades have seen it broken again and again. Below are the six most decisive victories in P&J history, charting each year's top 3, sorted by total points and, in parentheses, total mentions. (Thanks, of course, to Robert Christgau's P&J database.)

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1. 2010
Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy...............3,250 (266)
LCD Soundsystem, This Is Happening.................................1,634 (152)
Arcade Fire, The Suburbs....................................................1,540 (143)

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2. 1996
Beck, Odelay.....................................................................1134 (110)
Fugees, The Score...............................................................602 (58)
Sleater-Kinney, Call the Doctor...........................................456 (35)

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3. 2001
Bob Dylan, Love and Theft................................................3010 (235)
The Strokes, Is This It.........................................................1613 (157)
Bjork, Vespertine...............................................................1281 (120)

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4. 1991
Nirvana, Nevermind...........................................................1699 (134)
Public Enemy, Apocalypse '91: The Empire Strikes Back......923 (86)
R.E.M., Out of Time.............................................................879 (80)

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5. 1994
Hole, Live Through This.....................................................1552 (121)
Pavement, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain...............................859 (77)
R.E.M., Monster...................................................................634 (66)

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6. 1995
PJ Harvey, To Bring You My Love.....................................1492 (120)
Tricky, Maxinquaye..............................................................868 (71)
Moby, Everything Is Wrong..................................................481 (44)

After these six, things begin to even out. You can begin to see this in 1995, but the fact that To Bring You My Love more than tripled the point total of the third-place Everything Is Wrong seemed to merit its inclusion. Among rap albums, the record margin of victory previously belonged to Outkast's 2000 win for Stankonia (20.7 percent over another PJ Harvey album, Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea), and although My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy easily did away with this, it still failed to collect as many points or first-place votes as Speakerboxx/The Love Below, which won the 2003 poll with 3554 and 305, respectively.

For reference, the only other rap albums to win P&J are Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions... in 1988, De La Soul's 3 Feet High and Rising in 1989, and Arrested Development's 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life of... in 1992. Besides, of course, 'Ye's own The College Dropout and Late Registration, a pair that made him only the second artist in the poll's history to win back-to-back titles. (The Clash did it in '80 and '81) Then again, this win makes the Chicago-born rapper-producer only the second artist to ever win three and puts him one behind Bob Dylan's record four. Solid company. So when does Watch the Throne come out?


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5 comments
Div1dedsky
Div1dedsky

Good f*cking lord, how in the hell did Hole win one? What an awful, awful band.

A. Glumpus
A. Glumpus

Gee, I hope the success doesn't go to Kanye's head . . .

glenn mcdonald
glenn mcdonald

How are you calculating those margins of victory? Either they're wrong, or they're dividing something by something in some way I can't figure out from seeing the numbers...

Wyeaster
Wyeaster

The fact you reply "good f"cking lord" says it all. You have no clue why this is an awesome album. What are you, 67?

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