Like most of the media world, we here at MTV News obsess and argue relentlessly over our year-end top 10s. This year, we thought we'd share them! Our staff top 10s will be rolling out all this week, along with several less conventional lists we've come up with, like couples, guilty-pleasure songs, albums, hot messes, arrests and much more. Enjoy, and share your own top 10s in You Tell Us!
1. Radiohead, In Rainbows: I didn't rush out and buy the iPhone, and I didn't sprain an index finger ordering up this Sominex special. Sgt. Pepper's couldn't have stood up to the scrutiny that this low-audio quality Internet stunt album got, and now that I have finally paid my $0 (yeah, I'm one of those guys, so what?), I have to say I'm ... is "underimpressed" a word? Fewer electronic squiggles and more rock than the last couple of glitch-a-ramas, but if this is the best of two years of jamming, what the hell did they leave on the cutting room floor?
2. M.I.A., Kala: I can totally dig the Pixies and Jonathan Richman references, and I love Bollywood soundtracks, chaos and big, frantic tribal spaz beats. But somehow the combo of all that plus M.I.A.'s barky, accented chicken-squawk vocals and all those annoying kids hectoring in the background felt like a spangly Chuck Taylor All-Star to my brainpan. Hip-hop should feel like fun, not homework.
3. Björk, Volta: Like Radiohead, Björk is one of those artists critics are required to fawn over, despite her insistence on treating melody like it's a cop's foot and she's Britney's out-of-control Beemer. We get it: You're avant-garde. But if the rumbly, bleep-bloop "Earth Intruders" is as catchy as it gets, I promise to pay anyone out there $100 if they can prove they listened to this whole album more than twice by this time next year.
The Hottest Couples: 50 Cent And Ciara And More Smoking-Hot Couples
4. Dr. Dog, We All Belong: If by We All Belong, they mean "we all belong to a cabal of hipsters who've chosen to overlook the fact that half these songs sound kinda like a dirty hippie barbershop quartet playing Beach Boys covers," well, then I guess I'm not a belong-er.
5. The Good, the Bad & the Queen, The Good, the Bad & the Queen: Remember what it felt like to watch the 2004 men's-basketball "Dream Team" get their asses handed to them by Argentina? That was kinda like listening to this dubbed-out, tuneless mess featuring members of the Clash, Gorillaz/Blur, the Verve and Fela Kuti's band.
6. Feist, The Reminder: Man, that "1234" song was awesome! And the one-continous-shot video with the dancing and the color-coordinated outfits? And the choreography? So awesome. Did I mention that I totally dig "1234"?
7. The Arcade Fire, Neon Bible: I wanted to love this album so badly. I really did. What with the songs about terrorists and Jessica Simpson's dad (same difference?) and that one that sounds like John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band's "On the Dark Side" ("Keep the Car Running" — go check it out yourself)? But unlike the band's debut, with the exception of a few cuts — OK, "Keep the Car Running" — it felt like an indie-rock college term paper on postpartum depression.
8. Bat for Lashes, Fur & Gold: Remember that Björk bet? Double or nothing, baby! I like freaks and I like folk, but I guess I just don't like creepy Halloween music if the scariest it gets is a tune about "The Wizard."
9. Animal Collective, Strawberry Jam: The next time I want to listen to a broken $25 Casiotone keyboard being defiled by a cheap drum machine over a staticky intercom while some stoner rambles on about bubbles exploding and tickling the bath, I'll just go to my buddy Eric's house and watch him cook dinner. Because at least he always has two good import beers on tap. ...
10. Angels & Airwaves, I-Empire: Oh, who am I kidding? Nobody pretends you're supposed to like this one.