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.
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 besteveralbums.com. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When I finished Scoring Music, I stumbled on a few findings.
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.
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.
There are only 9 countries involved — from North America, Europe, or Australia.
Of all these critically successful albums, how many were crowd hits too? Here are the numbers.
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.
Scoring Music is really big.
Ideally, it must be viewed as an A0 printout (see the Behance post for photos).