Scoring Music

Ranking 25 years of music

Scroll to find out more, or download the visualization

How It Works

A Tale of Two Axes

Scoring Music has a simple → and ↓ axis.

Each point on the ↓ axis represents a year — one for each year from 1991 to 2015. That’s 25 years of music. Albums are arranged from left to right on each line. I've taken the 10 “best” albums for each year.

What's the “best”?

The → axis is for the Rank Score. That’s just a way of seeing how “good” an album is. The greater an album's Rank Score, the more it is to the right.

Rank Score is a score assigned to every album by It’s a score that is an aggregate of hundreds of critic reviews and lists across the internet. That way we get to see which albums are critics’ favourites.

The “better” an album, the higher its Rank Score.

Know Your Albums

Albums are represented by or . The colour of the note indicates the genre that album belongs to — rock, pop, hip-hop/soul, electronic, or folk.*

You'll see notes that are upside down, or ones that have the text on the right side. Don't worry, these mean the same thing as normal notes.

* I understand that music can belong to several genres at once, but restricting albums to one genre was a necessary step to make the visualization. As a user, you have a right to disagree with this.

Classes or Masses?

We know the Rank Score is an indicator of critical success. The little number on the stem of is the USA Billboard 200 Peak Position of that album. This is a good indicator of commercial success, since accurate sales figures are hard to come by. The lower that number, the better it performed commercially.

Albums represented by won't have numbers. These albums did not chart on the Billboard 200, which means that they probably didn't sell very well.

Genres by Year

The fancy lines on the right emphasize genre of the albums that came out in a particular year. Each line represents an album and the colour is its genre. This makes it easy to see how many albums of which genre made it to the best 10 every year.

When the lines terminate on the right, we'll get a genre vs genre comparison of albums, i.e., which genres dominated the annual best 10 for the past 25 years. This should give an idea about which genre has had more critical success overall.

One Last Thing…

The → axis is not linear. The 0 – 150,000 range of Rank Scores has been broken into divisions. I did this because when I used a linear scale, there was severe clustering of albums on the left and large gaps on the right (logarithmic scales didn't help). Breaking the → axis helped even the distribution of albums.

Quick Stats

When I finished Scoring Music, I stumbled on a few findings.


There are 7 Radiohead Albums

Radiohead has 7 albums in Scoring Music. This means that excluding their debut, their albums have consistently featured in the top 10 every year of their release.

After them, there are distant seconds — Coldplay, Sigur Rós, Arcade Fire, Kanye West, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Arctic Monkeys, Björk, The National, Blur, and Muse have 4 albums each.

The Top 10 of the Past 25 Years

9 out of these 10 albums are from the rock genre — Kid A being the exception.
With 4 albums in this list, Radiohead clearly seems to be a darling of the critics.

OK Computer

  • Alternative Rock, Art Rock
  • #1 all time
  • Rank Score 149,328 pts


Kid A

  • Electronica, Experimental Rock
  • #6 all time
  • Rank Score 87,536 pts



  • Grunge, Alternative Rock
  • #7 all time
  • Rank Score 85,875 pts



Arcade Fire
  • Indie Rock, Art Rock
  • #9 all time
  • Rank Score 83,732 pts


The Bends

  • Alternative Rock, Indie Rock
  • #15 all time
  • Rank Score 69,576 pts


In Rainbows

  • Alternative Rock, Art Rock
  • #16 all time
  • Rank Score 68,331 pts


In the Aeroplane Over The Sea

Neutral Milk Hotel
  • Indie Rock, Psychedelic Folk
  • #17 all time
  • Rank Score 66,774 pts


Is This It

The Strokes
  • Garage Rock Revival, Indie Rock
  • #24 all time
  • Rank Score 50,639 pts



My Bloody Valentine
  • Shoegazing, Avant Rock
  • #28 all time
  • Rank Score 45,394 pts



Pearl Jam
  • Grunge, Alternative Rock
  • #36 all time
  • Rank Score 36,884 pts


There are only 9 countries involved — from North America, Europe, or Australia.

USA 157 albums England 54 albums Canada 12 albums Iceland 8 albums France 5 albums Scotland 5 albums Australia 4 albums Ireland 4 albums Wales 1 album

Class for the Masses

Of all these critically successful albums, how many were crowd hits too? Here are the numbers.

All albums 250 albums Charted on USA Billboard 200 195 albums Reached Billboard Top 10 97 albums Reached Billboard #1 34 albums

Learn More with Scoring Music

Scoring Music is a static data visualization designed for print. I made it in the Information Visualization module as a part of the Information Design MDes course at the National Institute of Design, India.

You can view the high resolution version and download Scoring Music by visiting this site from a desktop or laptop.

Feel free to download Scoring Music! If you feel like talking about it, go ahead and share it too. It would be nice to link back to this page if you do.

One More Thing…

Scoring Music is really big.
Ideally, it must be viewed as an A0 printout (see the Behance post for photos).


Have something to say about Scoring Music? Feel free to message me

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