It seems that with every year, the idea of an album being more of an event than a listening experience seems to get stronger and stronger. It 2013, that notion was defined by comeback albums, out-of-nowhere releases, genre-defining projects, and so many great free records that it was difficult to keep track even with our weekly roundups.
Even though the promo game got even more fierce over the past 12 months, the music side of it never stopped delivering. In fact, narrowing this very list of the best albums of 2013 to a mere 50 releases wasn’t easy, especially when you consider our half-year list from this past summer. We’ve had plenty of shake-ups since then, which means you might be surprised to see where certain projects have landed. But that’s the beauty of doing these lists every six months now—you get to really see how an album sits with you by the end of the year.
With that, let’s get to it: These are the 50 Best Albums of 2013.