Top10 Albums of 2015

I think I’ve pretty much settled on my top albums for 2015. They go:

  1. Kendrick Lamar // To Pimp A Butterfly
  2. Doomtree  // All Hands
  3. Jason Isbell // Something More Than Free
  4. Natalie Prass // Natalie Prass
  5. Vince Staples // Summertime ‘06
  6. Courtney Barnett // Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
  7. Sleater-Kinney // No Cities to Love
  8. Lizzo // Big GRRRL Small World
  9. Chastity Belt // Time to Go Home
  10. Death Cab for Cutie // Kintsugi

I became curious how my top 10 list compared to those to various music critics.  Thus, I scraped all the information from this page on metacritic to make this file.  To compare between two lists, I created my own point-based algorithm, where each exact match gets 10 points (for example, Kendrick Lamar being #1 on two lists being compared, which happened often), inexact matches are reduced by the difference in position (An album #1 on one list, but #5 on the other list, gets a score of 5), and of course, a non-match being 0.  I did this for every single combination of top10 lists to create a large matrix, which was then hierarchically clustered to produce this heatmap.


Turns out my list matched closest with Treble, the Philadelphia Inquirer (Dan DeLuca), KQED (Gabe Moline), and the AV Club.  As you can see from the heatmap, there were certain groups that emerged from clustering these pair-wise scores.  Arbitrarily, I just set the number of groups to 5.  I’m in the blue group, though I colored my row pink so I can find it easier.

By seeing which albums were enriched in each group, I got a slight sense of what may have been driving these groupings of similar Top10 lists (percent appearance of a given album in each list shown in parentheses):

1) Kendrick Lamer (100%), Courtney Barnett (95%), and Vince Staples (50%) loving lists (the blue group, which included me!)

2) Kendrick Lamer (100%), Future (39%), Grimes (30%) and Drake(30%) loving lists. This is the cyan group.

3) Kendrick Lamer (100%), Sufjan Stevens (95%), Father John Misty (67%), Grimes (62%), Courtney Barnett, Tame Impala, Sleater-Kinney (~55% each). This is the green group. As you can tell, this group had a set of albums that made it most similar to the other lists (and hence darker colors overall).

4)  Sufjan Stevens (88%), Courtney Barnett (73%), Tame Impala, Father John Misty, and Julia Holter (~45% each) favoring lists. This was the red group.

and 5) the black group, which didn’t really match other lists very well at all.


And yea. As you can tell from this post, just about everyone justifiably loves Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly.

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