Every year, towards the end of the year, we look back on all the albums we've listened to over the past twelve months. Only then do we start to form an opinion about the overall strength of the musical bounty: whether is been a "good year" or a "bad year." (And, of course, such assessment can change over time. Ask us again in twenty years, and things might look very different.) During the year, it never feels like things are going well. You hear some records and think, "Well, that was pretty cool." And then there's plenty of that you don't care much about, so many songs that don't grab you. There's always a ton of new music out. (Too much, it seems like, trying to keep up with it all.) But there's never a ton of great music out. But that's the thing about greatness, it builds over time.
So with 2013 coming to a close, we're starting to realize what a really great year for music it's been. There've been a been a lot of particularly strong albums this year. There were highly anticipated albums by artists like Drake, Kanye West, and J. Cole that lived up to the hype, there were the unexpected delights of Haim and Young Thug and A$AP Ferg, and worthy entries into established catalogs by acts like Eminem and Queens of the Stone Age. All that and oh so much more. Take a look back with us with The 50 Best Albums of 2013.