Albums of the year 2017 #4 — Critics’ view — 7 old hands

In the previous post we looked at debut albums in the top 50. This time we jump to the opposite end of the spectrum of experience. I’ve defined “old hands” to be artists with more than five album releases. There are seven artists in the top 50 that meet this criterion.

4:44 by Jay-Z (#10) is his 18th album since his debut in 1996. That makes Jay-Z easily the most prolific artist on the top 50. He has also been very productive — 18 albums in 21 years for an average of just under an album per year.

Most prolific artist in the critics’ top 50 — Jay-Z with 4:44 (#10)

Bjork is the next most prolific. Utopia (#22) is her 14th album, the first having been released in 1977, when she was just 12 years old. This gives Bjork by far the longest recording career of the old hands — 40 years. She did not, however, release another solo album after her debut until 1990. Even if her recording career was measured from that point, she would still have the longest career in the top 50.

Longest career in the critics’ top 50 — Bjork with Utopia (#22)

The most productive artist in the top 50 is Mount Eerie (AKA Phil Everum). A Crow Looked at Me (#13) was his 12th in as many years, just pipping Jay-Z for the most productive artist.

Most productive artist in the critics’ top 50 — Mount Eerie with A Crow Looked at Me (#13)

Two bands each have 7 albums — Queens of the Stone Age with Villains (#32) and The National with Sleep Well Beast (#9).

Seventh albums for QOTSA with Villains (#32) and The National with Sleep Well Beast (#9)

Rounding out the list are two female solo artists, each with 6 albums — Taylor Swift with Reputation (#36) and St. Vincent with MASSEDUCTION (#5). The latter was also the highest ranked album in this group. St. Vincent also has the shortest recording career, debuting in 2007.

Sixth albums for Taylor Swift with reputation (#36) and St. Vincent with MASSEDUCTION (#5)

The full list is in the table below.

Critics’ top 50 albums — most prolific artists

The top 50 seems to bust the myth of “the difficult second album” as the most frequent number of albums is 2. Eighteen of the top 50 are sophomore albums. FWIW the median number of albums is also 2, although the average is c.3.5.

These might be old hands — but they are not legacy acts. They all debuted in the 1990s or 2000s (excluding Bjork’s first).

Finally, US-based artists may have longer careers than their English counterparts. Six of the seven old hands originate in the USA, whereas four of the nine debutantes were English.

Look out for my next post, wherein we’ll explore gender balance.