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 eleventh year, each December music & 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 thirty 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 5 with the album Whokill.
The rest of the top 10, 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 10 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 10 albums.
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Gennaro Castaldo, HMV Press & PR
+44 (0)20 7432 2033 / +44 (0)7900 657 946 / firstname.lastname@example.org
THE 2011 HMV POLL OF POLLS TOP 50
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
31. SBTRKT / SBTRKT
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 twenty-six, and so on – the album with the lower score takes the higher placing in the HMV poll).
2. Over thirty publications, online sites & 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