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Pazz & Jop

A man wearing a plaid-red shirt speaks into a microphone.
Music critic Robert Christgau created the Pazz & Jop poll and presided over it from its inception in 1971 to 2005.

Pazz & Jop was an annual poll of top musical releases, compiled by American newspaper The Village Voice and created by music critic Robert Christgau. It published lists of the year's top releases for 1971 and, after Christgau's two-year absence from the Voice, each year from 1974 onward. The polls are tabulated from the submitted year-end top 10 lists of hundreds of music critics. It was named in acknowledgement of the defunct magazine Jazz & Pop, and adopted the ratings system used in that publication's annual critics poll.

The Pazz & Jop was introduced by The Village Voice in 1971 as an album-only poll; it was expanded to include votes for singles in 1979. Throughout the years, other minor lists had been elicited from poll respondents for releases such as extended plays, music videos, album re-issues, and compilation albums—all of which were discontinued after only a few years. The Pazz & Jop albums poll uses a points system to formulate list rankings. Participating critics assigned a number value, ranging from 5 to 30, to each of the albums on their top 10 list, with all 10 albums totaling 100 points. The singles lists, however, are always unweighted.


The Pazz & Jop was created by Village Voice critic Robert Christgau. The idea behind its name (a spoonerism of Jazz & Pop) was that, since the words "pazz" and "jop" do not exist, participating critics would judge a musical work on its own merits rather than be distracted by categories and genres. In 1971, English rock band the Who topped the first Pazz & Jop albums poll with Who's Next. The following year, Christgau left The Village Voice for Newsday, and the poll was not conducted again until 1974, when Christgau returned to the Voice and the poll "became an institution", according to fellow Voice critic Chris Molanphy. English singer Ian Dury and his band the Blockheads topped the first singles poll with "Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick" (1979). Bob Dylan and Kanye West topped the albums poll the most number of times, with four number-one albums each. West, in addition, won the singles poll of 2005. Christgau oversaw the Pazz & Jop poll for more than thirty years; he also wrote an accompanying essay that discussed the poll's contents.

Writing in 2002, author Bernard Gendron cited the lack of overlap between the 1999 poll results and that year's best-selling albums on Billboard's US charts—whereby only five of Pazz & Jop's top 40 appeared in the Billboard list—as indicative of a continued division between the avant-garde aesthetic of cultural accreditation and commercial considerations. Although Pazz & Jop established itself as a critics' poll with a clear identity, it has attracted criticism, particularly for its methodology. Addressing the participants in 2001, Mike Doughty of the New York Press complained: "In the guise of a love of music, you've taken the most beautiful nebulous form of human expression, squeezed it through an asinine points-scoring system specially cooked up for this pointless perennial, and forced it into this baffling, heinous chart system."

Christgau's tenure as Pazz & Jop overseer came to an abrupt end when he was controversially fired from The Village Voice after a company buy-out in August 2006. In response to his dismissal, several prominent critics publicly announced that they would no longer be turning in their lists for the poll; Sasha Frere-Jones of The New Yorker described Christgau's firing as "a slap in the face to so many of us [critics] in so many ways". Regardless, The Village Voice continued to run the feature, with Rob Harvilla succeeding Christgau as music editor and overseer of the poll. Christgau's annual Pazz & Jop overview essay was discontinued and substituted with multiple retrospective articles of the year's music written by a selection of critics.

In 2016, the poll's name was changed from Pazz & Jop to the Village Voice Music Critics Poll by the new owners of the newspaper. Christgau, who had continued to vote in the poll since his departure from the newspaper, expressed dismay at the name change. When the 2016 results were announced in January 2017, the poll had reverted to its Pazz & Jop name.

The Village Voice ceased publication altogether in August 2018. Despite the closure of the newspaper, a Pazz & Jop poll for 2018 was announced on December 20, with Christgau confirming its legitimacy on Twitter. The 2018 poll was published on the Village Voice's website on February 6, 2019.

As a continuation of the poll, Glenn Boothe and Keith Artin organised a "Village Voice Pazz & Jop Rip-Off Poll" in 2019. The poll was conduced via private Facebook group and included over 1,100 members—music writers, business execs, or artists themselves. Purple Mountains' eponymous album was voted the best album of 2019.

Albums voted number one

A gray-haired man wearing a hat plays a guitar.
American musician Bob Dylan topped the Pazz & Jop albums poll four times.
Two African-American men rap into microphones whilst on stage. One wears a blonde wig, a grey jacket and blue trousers, and the other wears a green checkered hat, a white shirt and khaki shorts.
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (2003) by American hip hop duo Outkast garnered the most total points of any number-one album in the history of the poll.
A man holding a microphone in his right hand whilst on stage. He wears a black T-shirt with a tiger-like face on it, tight leather pants, and a kilk.
American hip-hop artist Kanye West topped the Pazz & Jop albums poll four times out of the eight solo albums he released during the poll's existence.
Year Artist Album Mentions Points Ref.
1971 The Who Who's Next N/A 540
1974 Joni Mitchell Court and Spark 14 186
1975 Bob Dylan and The Band The Basement Tapes 23 285
1976 Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life 25 292
1977 Sex Pistols Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols 32 412
1978 Elvis Costello and the Attractions This Year's Model 58 783
1979 Graham Parker Squeezing Out Sparks 63 767
1980 The Clash London Calling 89 1,347
1981 The Clash Sandinista! 67 862
1982 Elvis Costello and the Attractions Imperial Bedroom 87 1,061
1983 Michael Jackson Thriller 100 1,305
1984 Bruce Springsteen Born in the U.S.A. 136 1,757
1985 Talking Heads Little Creatures 99 1,078
1986 Paul Simon Graceland 96 1,131
1987 Prince Sign o' the Times 118 1,491
1988 Public Enemy It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back 79 1,011
1989 De La Soul 3 Feet High and Rising 89 1,050
1990 Neil Young and Crazy Horse Ragged Glory 104 1,282
1991 Nirvana Nevermind 134 1,699
1992 Arrested Development 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of... 97 1,050
1993 Liz Phair Exile in Guyville 108 1,383
1994 Hole Live Through This 121 1,552
1995 PJ Harvey To Bring You My Love 120 1,492
1996 Beck Odelay 110 1,134
1997 Bob Dylan Time Out of Mind 135 1,655
1998 Lucinda Williams Car Wheels on a Gravel Road 167 2,129
1999 Moby Play 134 1,548
2000 Outkast Stankonia 220 2,660
2001 Bob Dylan Love and Theft 235 3,010
2002 Wilco Yankee Hotel Foxtrot 201 2,328
2003 Outkast Speakerboxxx/The Love Below 305 3,554
2004 Kanye West The College Dropout 245 2,826
2005 Kanye West Late Registration 227 2,525
2006 Bob Dylan Modern Times 95 1,123
2007 LCD Soundsystem Sound of Silver 141 1,662
2008 TV on the Radio Dear Science 154 1,744
2009 Animal Collective Merriweather Post Pavilion 154 1,794
2010 Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy 266 3,250
2011 Tune-Yards Whokill 135 1,645
2012 Frank Ocean Channel Orange 170 1,952
2013 Kanye West Yeezus 160 1,991
2014 D'Angelo and the Vanguard Black Messiah 163 2,008
2015 Kendrick Lamar To Pimp a Butterfly 210 2,639
2016 David Bowie Blackstar 209 2,367
2017 Kendrick Lamar Damn N/A 1,756
2018 Kacey Musgraves Golden Hour 100 1,155

Singles voted number one

English musician Ian Dury performed "Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick", which topped the first singles poll in 1979.
American rapper Missy Elliott is the only artist with two consecutive Pazz & Jop number-one singles: "Get Ur Freak On" and "Work It".
Year Artist Single Mentions Ref.
1979 Ian Dury and the Blockheads "Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick"/"Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3" 29
1980 Kurtis Blow "The Breaks" 40
1981 Laurie Anderson "O Superman"/"Walk the Dog" 56
The Rolling Stones "Start Me Up"
1982 Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five "The Message" 156
1983 Michael Jackson "Billie Jean" 75
1984 Prince "When Doves Cry"/"17 Days" 111
1985 Artists United Against Apartheid "Sun City" 101
1986 Run–D.M.C. "Walk This Way" 78
1987 Prince "Sign o' the Times" 54
1988 Tracy Chapman "Fast Car" 55
1989 Public Enemy "Fight the Power" 75
1990 Deee-Lite "Groove Is in the Heart"/"What Is Love?" 74
1991 Nirvana "Smells Like Teen Spirit" 116
1992 Arrested Development "Tennessee" 100
1993 The Breeders "Cannonball" 78
1994 Beck "Loser" 89
1995 Coolio featuring L.V. "Gangsta's Paradise" 81
1996 Quad City DJ's "C'mon N' Ride It (The Train)" 34
1997 Hanson "MMMBop" 96
1998 Fatboy Slim "The Rockafeller Skank" 110
1999 TLC "No Scrubs" 109
2000 Outkast "Ms. Jackson" 124
2001 Missy Elliott "Get Ur Freak On" 176
2002 Missy Elliott "Work It" 212
2003 Outkast "Hey Ya!" 322
2004 Franz Ferdinand "Take Me Out" 145
2005 Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx "Gold Digger" 145
2006 Gnarls Barkley "Crazy" 151
2007 Amy Winehouse "Rehab" 97
2008 M.I.A. "Paper Planes" 107
2009 Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys "Empire State of Mind" 89
2010 Cee Lo Green "Fuck You" 187
2011 Adele "Rolling in the Deep" 116
2012 Carly Rae Jepsen "Call Me Maybe" 94
2013 Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams "Get Lucky" 117
2014 Future Islands "Seasons (Waiting on You)" 75
2015 Drake "Hotline Bling" 76
2016 Beyoncé "Formation" 99
2017 Cardi B "Bodak Yellow" 62
2018 Childish Gambino "This Is America" 64

Defunct categories

Compilation albums

Year Artist Album Mentions Ref.
1995 Various artists Macro Dub Infection: Volume One 28
1996 LTJ Bukem Logical Progression 11

Album re-issues

Year Artist Album Mentions Ref.
1986 The Neville Brothers Treacherous: A History of the Neville Brothers (1955–1985) 43
1987 James Carr At the Dark End of the Street 35
1988 Chuck Berry The Chess Box 35
1989 Muddy Waters The Chess Box 65
1990 Robert Johnson The Complete Recordings 108
1991 James Brown Star Time 84
1992 Bob Marley Songs of Freedom 51
1993 The Beach Boys Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of The Beach Boys 42
1994 Louis Armstrong Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1923–1934) 34
1995 The Velvet Underground Peel Slowly and See 57
1996 Sun Ra The Singles 25
1997 Various artists Anthology of American Folk Music 100
1998 Various artists Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965–1968 111
1999 Os Mutantes Everything Is Possible: The Best of Os Mutantes 31
Various artists Loud, Fast and Out of Control: The Wild Sounds of '50s Rock

Extended plays

Perfect Sound Forever and Watery, Domestic by American indie rock band Pavement were voted the number-one extended plays of their respective release years.
Year Artist Album Mentions Ref.
1981 The Specials Ghost Town 44
1982 T-Bone Burnett Trap Door 75
1983 Los Lobos ...And a Time to Dance 54
1984 Tommy Keene Places That Are Gone 32
1985 Alex Chilton Feudalist Tarts 32
1986 Alex Chilton No Sex 27
1988 Bruce Springsteen Chimes of Freedom 13
1989 Lucinda Williams Passionate Kisses 17
1990 The Mekons F.U.N. '90 27
1991 Pavement Perfect Sound Forever 26
1992 Pavement Watery, Domestic 23
1993 Luscious Jackson In Search of Manny 31
1994 Pizzicato Five Five by Five 15

Music videos

A sideview of two rock musicians performing onstage.
American rock band Nirvana topped the music videos poll for three consecutive years.
Year Artist Music video Director(s) Mentions Ref.
1983 Michael Jackson "Beat It" Bob Giraldi 63
1984 Art of Noise "Close (To the Edit)" Zbigniew Rybczyński 35
1985 Artists United Against Apartheid "Sun City" Jonathan Demme, Godley & Creme 68
1986 Peter Gabriel "Sledgehammer" Stephen R. Johnson 87
1987 Squeeze "Hourglass" Ade Edmondson 12
1990 Deee-Lite "Groove Is in the Heart" Hiroyuki Nakano 35
Madonna "Justify My Love" Jean-Baptiste Mondino
1991 Nirvana "Smells Like Teen Spirit" Samuel Bayer 59
1992 Nirvana "In Bloom" Kevin Kerslake 23
1993 Nirvana "Heart-Shaped Box" Anton Corbijn 34
1994 Beastie Boys "Sabotage" Spike Jonze 66
1995 Björk "It's Oh So Quiet" Spike Jonze 33

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