This infographic firstly (top left) show the amount of reviews per-genre. Rock dominated 2017, with 385 reviews out of 1169, which is a third. "Global" made up just 2% of the total. The Electronic classification came second with 19%, Rap third with 14%, and surprisingly, Pop/R&B actually came fifth, behind Experimental. Just 10% of Pitchfork's 2017 reviews were Pop/R&B.
Average Review Score in 2017
Jazz experienced the highest average review of the year, with 79.91/100. Rap ran dead last, with the average Rap review scoring 71.23/100.
The temptation is to assume genre's with less total reviews would secure a higher average score, but Experimental, which accounted for 11% of the total reviews, came third, at 74.96, well above Metal, which had just 5% of the total reviews of 2017.
Standard Deviation (Variance in Review Scores)
The standard deviation gives an idea of how scattered the reviews are around the average. A higher standard deviation indicates more varied review scores. Jazz was the most consistent of 2017, while Metal was the most erratic.
Why do Jazz and Global have lower standard deviations?
It's possible that less popular genres in North America, such as Jazz and Global, release fewer relevant (with regards to Pitchfork's audience) records during the year. Because these genres aren't a priority, and don't command as much attention as Rock, Rap, Pop and R&B, reviewers are free to pick and choose what they want to review, naturally gravitating towards artists and groups they like and are familiar with. If a reviewer were to only review albums from artists they like, reviews scores would naturally remain high and consistent. If a reviewer is covering a record from an artist they don't traditionally enjoy, simply because that record is popular.
Highest and Lowest Scoring Reviews
Pitchfork publishes a number of "classic" reviews, where they go back in time and review a pivotal or important record from the past. They also review albums that have been re-issued, and if an album is being re-issued it's because it was once popular or a cultural touchpoint, and still has commercial value. As such, the top 27 scoring reviews of 2017 are either classic, or reissues. The first new album comes in at 28th; Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. with 92. It's then another 13 reviews before Mount Eerie clocks in at 42 with 90 for their 2017 record A Crow Looked At Me.
At the other end of the spectrum, Ed Sheeran cops the worst review of 2017, a lowly 28/100 (2.8/10) for his world-beating Divide.
And while this seems quite harsh, give a thought to the following albums that suffered an even worse fate in the period 2010-2016:
The Pixies - EP-1: 10/100
Mac Miller - Blue Slide Park: 10/100
Lou Reed and Metallica - Lulu: 10/100
Ghostland Observatory - Codename: Rondo: 15/100
Childish Gambino - Camp: 16/100
The Ting Tings - Sounds from Nowheresville: 18/100
Mumford & Sons - Wilder Mind: 20/100
Jessie J - Who You Are: 20/100
Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More: 21/100
Chiddy Bang - Peanut Butter and Swelly: 21/100
Mumford & Sons got stung twice!
Highest Review Scores:
There were 12 perfect scores in 2017, all classics and reissues:
Bjork - Homogenic
Glenn Gould - Bach: The Goldberg Variations
Metallica - Master of Puppets
Prince - Purple Rain Deluxe Edition
The Notorious B.I.G. - Ready To Die
Ghostface Killah - Supreme Clientele
X-Ray Spex - Germfree Adolescent
Weezer - Blue Album
Elliot Smith - Either, Or
Radiohead - Ok Computer
Guns n Roses - Appetite for Destruction
The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead
Distribution of Review Scores by Genre (2017)
These graphs plot every single review from each genre in 2017, and the line represents the average review score at that point in time. This gives an idea of the variance, and allows us to view any outliers (like Ed Sheeran). Electronic only suffered 1 low point (from The Chainsmokers), but there are multiple lower outliers on the Pop/R&B distribution, as well as the Rock and Rap charts. It also gives a good idea of the amount of reviews in each genre. Global looks barren when compared with Rock or Electronic.
2017 vs. 2010-2016
The greatest difference between 2017 and the rest of the decade actually occurs in Jazz. Jazz's average review score for 2010-2016 is 71.99, yet it's a muscular 79.91 in 2017.
Rap, Rock and Pop/R&B all fared worse in 2017 than the previous 7 years.
The most stable was Folk/Country, which only experienced a 1.14 point increase in 2017.
Metal, Electronic, Experimental, Global, Folk/Country and Jazz all experienced a less varied review score plot in 2017 compared to the previous 7 years. The most simple explanation is that there is more variance in review scores from 2010 to 2016 than there is in 2017.
About The Dataset
The dataset includes 1169 Pitchfork reviews published in 2017. It also includes 7061 reviews published between 2010 and 2016, every relevant review that had a listed genre.
All classic reviews and reviews of reissues are included.
Huge thanks to Nolan Conaway, who provided the data from 2010-2016. Check out his analysis from June 2017 on Pitchfork's review motivations.
"Pitchfork Roundup! What I found in 1800 Album Reviews"
Any questions, hit me up on here or on Twitter!