Billboard.com's Scores

  • Music
For 723 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 84% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 14% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 4.8 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Music review score: 76
Highest review score: 95 My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Lowest review score: 47 Shock Value II
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 0 out of 723
723 music reviews
    • 97 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    To Pimp a Butterfly defies easy listening, but it's deeply rewarding.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Spanning the years 1968-75, this exquisitely designed four-disc boxed set gathers a treasure trove of rare gems.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 94 Critic Score
    The SMiLE Sessions captures Wilson, session musicians and the Beach Boys in moments that are chaotic, loopy and remarkably in synch. It's a consistently brilliant album.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 95 Critic Score
    Needless to say, West has proved once again that he is most on point in the face of adversity.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    This Reading appearance-released for the first time on the CD/DVD package "Live at Reading"-captured the trio's skill at turning simple power chords into some of the most memorable rock anthems of the '90s.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Perhaps that's a story for another set, however, and newcomers and fans alike will find this one remarkably satisfying
    • 92 Metascore
    • 94 Critic Score
    No matter what Ocean's mood is on the album, the songs sound fantastic.... it's one of the best albums of the year.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 86 Critic Score
    Bowie is back, and thanks to better technology, these special editions of "Raw Power" sound right on the money. But the story here is the extras.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 83 Critic Score
    Manipulating her voice as much as she does her sound, Monáe widens the cast of characters and pushes along the self-explorative narrative. The ArchAndroid could be the stuff of stage or screen, 3-D without the annoying glasses.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 81 Critic Score
    Big Boi delivers an inventive, high-spirited set full of synth-funk signifiers, talk-box flair and snares.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 92 Critic Score
    The result is an album that was absolutely worth the seven-year wait, not to mention the mountain of hype atop which Apple has sat since her big comeback at SXSW in March.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 84 Critic Score
    Ali and Toumani is spontaneous and deeply spiritual, depicting two outstanding musicians who are governed by nothing but their love for their nation.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Sale el Sol manages to bridge the divide between the old and new Shakira with a spark that keeps you listening to the very end.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 71 Critic Score
    The casual nature of the sessions-Dylan coughs during "Blowin' in the Wind" and stops "Talking Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues" to correct a lyric, for instance-only enriches the experience.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 77 Critic Score
    What marks "No Devolucion" as an improvement over 2006's "A City by the Light Divided" and 2009's "Common Existence" is that frontman Geoff Rickly and his bandmates have finally written a batch of songs worthy of those complicated arrangements.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    The diversity and focus has paid off, as Cadillactica is K.R.I.T.'s best and most cohesive work to date.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    It's an album that seemingly could have come out in 1996 just as easily as today. Even the song titles feel familiar: "Only Tomorrow," "Is This and Yes," "Nothing Is." Having said that, it's lovely.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    As strong as this album is, it’s hard to pick out a standout track.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It's big, bold and still stands out next to anything coming from Nashville.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    If there's a funnier, stranger and more touchingly bizarre album released this year, it will be a very good year indeed.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo have made an analog album that's less of a "throwback" and more of a salute to the idols that would now do anything to hop on the duo's full-length.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 87 Critic Score
    At 16 tracks, this dense, complicated set covers considerably more stylistic territory than either of the band's previous albums.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 82 Critic Score
    While the sound is looser with strummed acoustic guitar, sax, autoharp and brushed drums, it contrasts sharply with Harvey's thematic adherence to war, guns, bloodshed and bleak landscapes.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    On the follow-up to her 2009 breakthrough album, "Bird-Brains," Merrill Garbus (aka Tune-Yards) again creates a clamorous assemblage of warm, overdriven kitchen-sink instrumentation, field hollering, layered stacks of processed vocals and a sonic smorgasbord culled from the world cafe-only more so.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 77 Critic Score
    How I Got Over finds the Roots acting as elder statesmen in hip-hop, but its mix of nifty experiments and straightforward rap eliminates any sense of predictability.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 81 Critic Score
    Having defined its gauzy sound on previous albums, Halcyon Digest Deerhunter finds the group expanding it with knockout results.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 87 Critic Score
    Cosmogramma may evade complete comprehension, but Flying Lotus' foreign and colorful arrangements entice even the most casual listener.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 84 Critic Score
    An album that could've easily come from other Mississippi River stops where horns and funk pump through the bloodstreams-Chicago, Memphis or St. Louis.
    • Billboard.com
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Akinmusire has chosen to challenge listeners, exploring free territory where Smith squeaks and squawks his way into the wilderness.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 93 Critic Score
    So Beautiful or So What is vintage Simon, but it's also all over the map stylistically, touching on blues, African, folk, Indian and more. The music is unmistakably his, but finds the artist challenging himself melodically and with his phrasing.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Bleach is freshened up with remastered versions of unusually heavy songs like the haunting "Negative Creep," where Cobain howls about alienation and being stoned, and the pounding "Floyd the Barber," where the main subject of the eerie track is a man being strapped down and tortured by characters from "The Andy Griffith Show.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 82 Critic Score
    Only in closer Grown Ocean, with crashing cymbals and trilling woodwinds, do you get a sense that Fleet Foxes are actively trying to impress you. Even then, though, you're impressed all the same.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 81 Critic Score
    Newsom's wispy singing style may still be too inaccessible for some, but hardcore fans will savor the growing vocal confidence during the two-hour-plus running time. In an era of quick musical fixes, Have One on Me is a spacious artistic statement too original to pass up.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    The sparse production recalls Cohen's 1988 release, "I'm Your Man," by throwing the Canadian balladeer's ever-deepening voice and his mix of poetic flair and pitch-black humor into satisfyingly stark relief.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 83 Critic Score
    The angry young woman who famously sang about setting kerosene fires and waiting with a loaded gun for her abusive beau has found love with new boyfriend Blake Shelton, and it's reflected on the diverse Revolution.
    • Billboard.com
    • 85 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Rawlings' guitar work is an engaging mix of the decorative and functional, marvelously recorded and a perfect balance to the warmth of Welch's vocals.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 86 Critic Score
    High Violet synthesizes the best parts of the National's past into a fantastic present
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Once the initial novelty and shock wears off of Beyoncé's impressive stealth-release feat, the brilliance and creative audacity of the album itself can sink in.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 89 Critic Score
    Kaputt continues Bejar's winning streak and is an early contender for indie-rock album of the year.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The Texas native reclaims her spot as one of country's most expressive and distinctive vocalists.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 84 Critic Score
    LCD Soundsystem principal James Murphy is at his cynical best on the act's third album, This Is Happening.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 76 Critic Score
    Brooklyn duo Sleigh Bells is loud, raucous and unapologetic. Members Alexis Krauss (vocals) and Derek Miller (guitarist/programmer) prove it on debut album Treats.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 81 Critic Score
    The National had reached a level of comfort very few indie rock acts achieve. That feeling of comfort permeates every part of their new album, Trouble Will Find Me.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Those looking for vintage soul sounds or even full-on raps from start to finish will be thrown several curves here. It’s an album with numerous emotional layers as well.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 82 Critic Score
    The artist's familiar smoky vocals and the consistently rich production draw the listener in on his latest release, "Get Off on the Pain."
    • 84 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Vampire Weekend's most cohesive and musically accomplished album to date.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    American Middle Class is a focused collection of songs.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 81 Critic Score
    Her fifth studio release, New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh, finds the singer delivering no-holds-barred lyrics about lovemaking, love longing and, at times, love lost.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 82 Critic Score
    Us
    What gives Brother Ali's slice-of-life ruminations their impressive heft is the rapper's eye for everyday detail and the handmade appeal of his vintage-funk arrangements.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Streisand gives her trademark romantic-ballad treatment to 13 well-known standards.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 95 Critic Score
    Blunderbuss isn't just (arguably) the best album of the year so far, it opens up a whole new world for him.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Pain Killer is an in-your-face album with rock bombast, though there's enough occasional twang here to keep the country traditionalists happy.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    By using the lineup shift as a chance to explore different terrain-namely, eschewing pop choruses and traditional vocals-Underoath's sprawling, at-times disquieting music is newly realized.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 77 Critic Score
    While that post-9/11 set had a fantastic first single ("Ch-Check It Out") and nothing else close to its level, the group's latest lacks a standout track but is a consistent hodgepodge of slimy beats and no-nonsense rhyming.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Sonically it's a super-charged take on the girl-group sound, with thundering drums, multilayered vocals, heart-wrenching lyrics and loads of echo-all of which contrasts with her honeyed voice.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 84 Critic Score
    Patty Loveless has an innate soulfulness that can't be taught, bought or won on a reality show. That's one of the reasons-along with sterling musicianship and inspired song selection-why her new album, Mountain Soul II, is a must-have for fans of Loveless and roots music alike.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 82 Critic Score
    Caribou's newest set, "Swim," which contains more electronic elements than its pop-traced predecessor, is a major step forward for Snaith.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    There are no immediate anthems like whokill's "Bizness" or "Gangsta." But these 13 tracks hum and bounce with contagious enthusiasm, posing a challenge worth rising to.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Leaps and bounds over the act's earlier material, "Teen Dream" allows Legrand and Scally to truly come into their own while leaving the listener aching for more.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 81 Critic Score
    Once again, TVOTR channels something unique and forward-thinking.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 82 Critic Score
    Clearly, Kem isn't self-conscious about his love of love--and we love him for it.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Red Hot + Rio 2 takes some time to absorb, but it's sure to tide you over until the next Red Hot compilation is released.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, Lennox's fifth studio LP, is his most direct and accessible statement yet.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 76 Critic Score
    It's arguably the most potent lineup since Josh Homme put QOTSA together in 1996, and it's embellished on the band's sixth studio album by guests.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 74 Critic Score
    The Monitor probably could've borrowed more firepower from the ironclad battleship for which it's named, but the album nevertheless meshes old-fashioned themes with a modern twist.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Making the most of Capitol's Studio B--a Los Angeles landmark where Sinatra recorded--Dylan captures his band live, with stirring intimacy. As curator, he gets credit for avoiding obvious hits like "Stardust" and "Fly Me to the Moon," instead picking "Why Try to Change Me Now?" and the show-stopping closer, "That Lucky Old Sun," an old sufferer's plea for relief
    • 82 Metascore
    • 79 Critic Score
    What follows is Doris, a slow (rarely rising above 70 bpm), introspective album where Earl Sweatshirt combats pressures when returning to a life of stardom after time spent at a Samoa-based boarding school for troubled youths. 

    • 82 Metascore
    • 84 Critic Score
    It’s a more consistent album than his debut--for better and for worse.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 87 Critic Score
    Entirely produced by the Black Keys (except for the Danger Mouse-helmed song "Tighten Up"), the pair's latest album, Brothers, lures with its spooky throwback sound, preternatural grooves and dark bluesy jams.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Bowie and producer Tony Visconti, who helped shaped his sound in the 1970s as well as produce seven T. Rex records, have struck gold in creating a work that is modern and well-connected to the artist's fabled sonic-past.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 82 Critic Score
    The music is at its best when it emulates an animated conversation, one voice leap-frogging the other with no one losing sight of the central theme.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 92 Critic Score
    This smart four-disc package commemorates the concert's 40th anniversary with a pristine remastered version of the original recording, five previously unreleased songs from the same show and an entire disc devoted to the fiery opening acts, B.B. King and Ike & Tina Turner.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 82 Critic Score
    Vampire Weekend's second album, Contra, finds the New York-based band pushing its eclectic, intellectual indie rock further using a mash-up of musical genres, clever wordplay and emotional heft.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 89 Critic Score
    The brothers have tapped into the amorphous joy at the heart of dance music, and have peppered Settle's masterfully executed tracks with that feeling.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 85 Critic Score
    Don't mistake the softness for weakness. While nothing is as biting as the aging hipster takedown 'Femme Fatale' (from his 2006 set "At Home With Owen"), he pulls out the knives and slices pseudo-intellectuals on 'A Trenchant Critique.'
    • 81 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    New York duo the Books continue their tradition of using intriguing vocal samples behind folk-and electronic-based compositions on fourth album "The Way Out." This time around, the group also mixes jazz-fusion with quirky dialogue that ranges from meditation speeches to intimate voice mails.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Clearly you can take McBride--who co-wrote six of these tracks--anywhere and she'll sound just fine.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 67 Critic Score
    "I Learned the Hard Way" finds an eminent R&B band playing within its comfort zone and Jones continuing to distinguish herself as a multilayered frontwoman.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Globetrotting frontman Damon Albarn then returned to Hong Kong to write lyrics, hoping to recapture the spirit. He has largely succeeded, as The Magic Whip is a fascinating snapshot of a group coming to personal and professional crossroads in a strange city where modern living leads to bewilderment and alienation.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 85 Critic Score
    While its recent recordings have reflected a more subdued approach in the studio, band members Norman Blake, Gerard Love and Raymond McGinley never lose their knack for composing concise pop gems.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 82 Critic Score
    It's not so much that Merle Haggard has established himself as an American gem on his ambitious releases in the past decade; it's that we finally took notice.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 82 Critic Score
    11:11 is another winning showcase of exotic instrumental brilliance.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 86 Critic Score
    Ariana Grande's debut LP is a surprisingly varied affair for a 20-year-old Nickelodeon star with a devastatingly strong voice.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 82 Critic Score
    The act should be credited for not hewing to the tried-and-true formula it pretty much invented with previous releases but many of the double-disc's 18 tracks feel like they are embryonic rather than fully formed.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    Give Up the Ghost is another rich offering from this distinctive female talent.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 85 Critic Score
    At 71, Staples still knows how to hang tough and shows no signs of slowing down.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 79 Critic Score
    After 15 years of recording together, the members of Guster deliver their poppiest, most cohesive effort with Easy Wonderful.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The vibe on the new album may be rootsier and more acoustic than Walker's usual fare, but it still emphasizes his knack for memorable wordplay and melodic know-how, which have earned him writing and producing gigs.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 86 Critic Score
    Plant has steadfastly resisted a return to the Zep fold; Band of Joy makes us glad for that.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 82 Critic Score
    The group spit-shines its soundtrack for working-class America.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 76 Critic Score
    There are some moments when the mood lightens, usually for romantic fare like the funky Estelle-assisted song "Midnight Hour." But these tracks display neither Kweli's lyrical precision nor Hi-Tek's adventurous sounds. The set also falls short of its opening promise to engineer a "shift in the paradigm of hip-hop."
    • 80 Metascore
    • 78 Critic Score
    On Praise & Blame, that gusty Northern soul voice sounds as righteous and true as it does when he's operating in the more carnal regions of his catalog.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 78 Critic Score
    Spoon's seventh studio album, Transference, strikes a balance between its early angsty indie-rock and the soulful deconstructed pop of its 2007 release, "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga."
    • 80 Metascore
    • 87 Critic Score
    Clocking in at an hour and twenty-five minutes, Reflektor drags in parts, though it contains plenty of moments (most often in its uptempo, dynamic first half) that sound ready to breathe life into the middling state of commercial rock in 2013.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 78 Critic Score
    The Besnard Lakes amp up the energy with a more guitar-driven approach on third album The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night. But this added vigor doesn't distract from the rock band's more familiar fare of gentle vocal deliveries and downplayed drums.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 79 Critic Score
    In New Orleans vernacular, Ya-Ka-May is a stew comprising various meats, green onions, noodles and a hard-boiled egg. This album may well be the musical counterpart of the dish for which it's named.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The result is a lustful listen that often centers on either coming together or breaking apart.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 78 Critic Score
    At times, it's difficult to differentiate who is singing, thanks to masterful producing by Bright Eyes' Mogis. When viewed less as a hipster supergroup and more as an old-fashioned song swap, Monsters of Folk live up to their hype and then some.
    • Billboard.com
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    What Sound & Color does best is hard to describe any other way: The music chugs, boogies, churns and rolls. Among rock music of its kind, it's one of the most ­muscular collections in some time, yet it accomplishes this by hardly even flexing.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 86 Critic Score
    Girls are poised to take their rightful place as one of the blog-crossover bands of 2009.