Media Release: HMV’s Poll of Polls reveals PJ Harvey’s ‘Let England Shake’ as music critics’ Album of the Year

HMV can reveal that the year’s best album according to the nation’s music writers is Let England Shake, by PJ Harvey.

Now in its 11th year, each December music and entertainment retailer HMV compiles a definitive ‘poll of polls’ survey of the UK’s overall ‘album of the year’ by collating and aggregating the various nominations made by music critics and writers from a wide range of music and lifestyle publications, national press and trade titles, and online sites.

Over 30 media organisations were polled – see Editor’s Notes.

The Dorset-born musician and singer-songwriter, who in September claimed a second Mercury Prize, scored an impressive 21 nominations in total from the 35 media outlets surveyed, including ‘album of the year’ selections from the likes of NME, Mojo, Uncut, The Sunday Times and BBC music writers.

Harvey’s tenth studio album, Let England Shake was released in February 2011 – entering the charts at no.8 before going on to achieve ‘gold’ status in September following the Mercury Prize award, and total sales to date in the UK currently running close to 130,000 copies.

PJ Harvey comments: “I am very grateful to receive this accolade for Let England Shake. The response to this album has heartened me, and given me great hope for the future.”

HMV music manager, John Hirst, adds: “It’s not a great surprise that Polly should come out on top of this year’s polls, particularly after already winning the Mercury Prize.

“Musically, it’s untouchable, combining deceptively simple songwriting with sublime musicianship and sparse production to great effect. It’s perhaps also appropriate, in some of the most politically-charged times in recent memory, that a protest album should be so recognised as a great work.”

Just behind PJ Harvey in second spot with 20 nominations is American indie-folk band, Bon Iver, with their self-titled album Bon Iver, which polled consistently across all media and was influential music site Pitchfork’s album of the year.

Coming in third in the survey are Seattle folk-rockers, Fleet Foxes, whose album, Helplessness Blues, attracted 17 nominations – again spread widely and including the accolade of being Mojo’s third best album of the year as well as being the top selection from music site, Pop Matters.

In fourth spot, also with 17 nominations, are Radiohead with King Of Limbs, while US New England music project tUnE-yArDs (sic), fronted by Merrill Garbus, garnered 16 nominations to make it into the top five with the album Whokill.

The rest of the top ten, which, significantly, is made up of eight artists signed to ‘Indie’ labels, comprises Wild Beasts – Smother, Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo, James Blake – James Blake, Tom Waits – Bad As Me and Horrors – Skying.

Surprisingly, Adele’s 21, which has been massively popular with the UK record-buying public in 2011 – going on to break various official chart records, appears to have struck slightly less of a chord with the music critics – coming just outside the top ten at no.11 in the poll, although it was Q Magazine’s third choice in its list of best albums of the year, while, interestingly, US magazines Rolling Stone and Time both voted it their no.1.

A recent new image of PJ Harvey can be supplied on request along with packshots for the top ten albums.

- Ends -


Gennaro Castaldo, HMV Press & PR

+44 (0)20 7432 2033 / +44 (0)7900 657 946 /


1. PJ Harvey / Let England Shake

2. Bon Iver / Bon Iver

3. Fleet Foxes / Helplessness Blues

4. Radiohead / King of Limbs

5. tUnE-yArDs / Whokill

6. Wild Beasts / Smother

7. Kurt Vile / Smoke Ring For My Halo

8. James Blake / James Blake

9. Tom Waits / Bad As Me

10. Horrors / Skying

11. Adele / 21

12. Destroyer / Kaputt

13. Real Estate / Days

14. Lykke Li / Wounded Rhymes

15. Gillian Welch / Harrow and the Harvest

16. Bjork / Biophilia

17. Washed Out / Within and Without

18. Girls / Father, Son and The Holy Ghost

19. Mastodon / The Hunter

20. Jay-Z and Kanye West / Watch The Throne

21. Frank Ocean / Ultra Nostalgia

22. Wilco / The Whole Love

23. War On Drugs / Slave Ambient

24. Laura Marling / A Creature I Don’t Know

25. Metronomy / English Riviera

26. Ema / Past Life Martyred Saints

27. Florence and the Machine / Ceremonials

28. The Weeknd / House of Balloons

29. Ice Age / New Brigade

30. Shabazz Palaces / Black Up


32. Drake / Take Care

33. Ryan Adams / Ashes and Fire

34. Yuck / Yuck

35. Antlers / Burst Apart

36. White Denim / D

37. Josh T Pearson / Last of the Country Gentlemen

38. St Vincent / Strange Mercy

39. King Creosote and John Hopkins / Diamond Mine

40. The Decemberists / The King Is Dead

41. M83 / Hurry Up We’re Dreaming

42. Wild Flag / Wild Flag

43. Feist / Metals

44. Gang Gang Dance / Eyecontact

45. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds / Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

46. Fucked Up / David Comes To Life

47. Beirut / Rip Tide

48. Panda Bear / Tomboy

49. My Morning Jacket / Circuital

50. The Black Keys / El Camino


1. The HMV Poll of Polls collates the number of nominations received by an album from music writers and critics drawn from a wide range of publications. The greater the number of nominations, the higher the placing achieved in the HMV Poll. In the event of a tie, where two or more albums receive the same number of nominations, the album with the highest combined placings in the critics’ selections is given the higher position in the HMV poll (these are referred to as the ‘poll total’ i.e. if an album is voted No.1 by a publication, then the score against it is just one; if it is No.10 then ten; No.26, then 26, and so on – the album with the lower score takes the higher placing in the HMV poll).

2. Over 30 publications, online sites and organisations were polled: BBC music writers, Clash, Classic Rock, Daily Star Playlist, Dis, DJ, Fact, Filter, The Fly, Gay Times, Gorilla Vs Bear, Guardian, Kerrang!, Magnet, Metal Hammer, Mojo, NME, Observer, Paste, Piccadilly Records, Pitchfork, Pop Matters, Pure Groove, Q, The Quietus, Rock Sound, Rolling Stone, Rough Trade, Spin, Stereogum, Sun Something For The Weekend, Sunday Times, The Word, Wire and Uncut.

3. History of HMV Poll Of Polls ‘Albums of the Year’ to date:

2011 PJ Harvey / Let England Shake

2010 Arcade Fire / The Suburbs

2009 Animal Collective / Merriweather Post Pavilion

2008 Elbow / The Seldom Seen Kid

2007 LCD Soundsystem / Sound Of Silver

2006 Joanna Newsom / Ys

2005 Arcade Fire / Funeral

2004 Kanye West / College Dropout

2003 OutKast / Speakerboxxx-The Love Below

2002 Queens Of The Stone Age / Songs For The Deaf

2001 Daft Punk / Discovery

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