For those who are used to seeing my music awards on my blog, here’s a sample of the new look for my music awards.


The Story Of The Music Awards

First let me note that for my music awards, it matters not what year the album was released.  Most people’s lists are for albums that were released only that year.  For me, what matters is when I started listening to the album, either because I just bought it that year, or I had acquired it previously but never got hooked on it until that year.  An album can never make an annual music awards list twice, however; it’s only listed the first year I’ve become fond of the album.

There are two criteria for the rankings on the list.  One is based on how much I listened to the album.  Some albums I listen to like crazy for a month or so and then drop; others I never play like crazy at any one time, but over the year they keep appearing in my CD player from time to time.  Either way, this cumulative frequency of listening is one factor in determining how high an album ranks on my list.

Another criterion for ranking is how much I liked an album.  Sometimes I will listen to a particular album a lot for some reason, but maybe I will not like it as much as an album I listened to less frequently.  There are some albums that are really beautiful and when I listen to them I am experiencing bliss in my musical soul, but something about the music is such that it doesn’t fit into my daily listening habits so often.  But I don’t rank solely on the good feelings I get from an album, because there is also something to be said for an album that you want to keep listening to, even if it’s not so mesmerizing.

So, each year’s list is the result of consideration by me as to how each album balances out in relation to the others in regard to both frequency of playing and how deeply the album strikes the chords of my musical soul.  That is why sometimes I may rave about how much I love a particular album that is ranked lower than one I give only moderate praise for:  the ranking is a mixture of frequency and beauty.

Explanation Of Lyrical Themes Categories

For each album on the music awards list, I identify a lyrical category for it.  Although lyrical category is not an official criterion in ranking albums, the category ends up affecting how much I listen to an album.  This is because lyrically I much prefer albums that have Christian themes, especially albums with a vertical focus.  So, a secular album generally has to be a lot better than a Christian album in order to get a high ranking.

Another purpose in listing the lyrical theme is for my friends who are reading the list.  Some prefer Christian lyrics, so I want them to know which albums have such lyrics.  Other friends want to avoid Christian lyrics, so they can be warned of the lyrical nature of the album.

Here are the five categories for the lyrics:

1) Christian: Praise & Worship.  These are songs designed to be sung in church, and the songs on such albums are typically popular in churches.

2) Christian:  Vertical.  An album of mostly songs sung to God, yet the songs are not Praise & Worship format; they have a broader lyrical focus and/or they would not work well in church due to the song structures.

3) Christian: Thematic.  This is the traditional Christian album, an album with lyrics that speak of themes of the Christian life, and may include songs sung directly to God.

4) Christian: Worldview.  This is an album created by a Christian group, usually on a Christian record label, but the lyrics tend to be about everyday life from a Christian worldview; usually there is not even any specific mention of Jesus on albums in this lyrical camp.

  1. 5)Secular: Albums made by groups who are not Christian.

Explanation of

Sales Rankings

On most of the lists, I have included the sales rankings from  This is done merely to show the relative ranking of these albums on a given day.  Most of the time, I have gathered these numbers well after the albums were first popular, so it’s not indicative of the highest sales rank the albums reached.  The purpose is this:  My awards list show what I like, but how does that compare to what other people like?  It’s kind of a way of showing how popular or obscure the album is.  For example, if the you’ve never heard of it and the sales rank is 600,000, no wonder you haven’t heard of it.  But if you’ve never heard of it and the sales rank is 10,000, then it’s something rather popular and you might meet some other people who like that artist.

Other Information

On The Awards Lists

Just for kicks, I include some additional information.  I tell how much I paid for the album and if I bought it new or used and where I got it from.  The prices include all taxes and shipping and handling.  For example, I’ve bought some of my favorite CDs used from Amazon for a penny, but after shipping & handling costs, the price goes up to several dollars.  The price you see is the total price I paid.

For lists 2007 and before:  Purchased albums tend to hover toward the top, since I am specifically choosing those albums, whereas the free ones I could only pick from what had been dumped into the free bin at work [I used to work at Borders].  It's interesting to see, though, how many free albums I ended up liking better than ones I paid for.  Sometimes I don't like an album as much as I think I will when I buy it.  As for free albums, if I've never heard of the artist, I don't know what I'm getting when I pick it up, but I find plenty of pleasant surprises--surprises that make it onto my best of the year list.

On some lists, I’ve included information as to whether the album is available from iTunes at the time of posting the web page, and if individual songs may be purchased as MP3 downloads from  This is to assist you in finding the music if it interests you.


On each music awards page, the artist’s name is a link to a page related to them, their own web page if I could find one or if it was relevant.  Some artists’ websites tell little about them, so sometimes I link to somewhere more informative instead.  The title is a link to the album on some other website.  I try to find web pages that review the album so you can get more information about it.  If I can’t find a suitable one, I link to a site that features or sells the album. 

On this website’s annual awards (not the older ones found on my blog), the line “ sales rank” includes a link to the CD at Amazon to make it easy to purchase or read customers’ reviews.  The album covers are links to my full review of the album.  The music awards page only has a very brief synopsis; the full review is on another page that you get to by clicking the album cover.  If there is no link on the album cover, I haven’t written a full review yet.

Why My Annual Music Awards Lists

Are Always So Late

In a nutshell, the answer to that question is that I’m a perfectionist, and it takes a lot of time to do them the way I want to--finding all the data I put in the list, finding pictures of the musicians, and especially taking all the time to write the reviews.

Most people put out their favorite albums of the year lists in December or early January.  I don't like to do my lists right at the turn of the new year because albums that I get late in the year I may continue to listen to a long time through the next year.  If I listen to an album a lot in November and December, yet still listen to it a lot in January and February, it's really a 4-month highlighted album, so it rates well, whereas if I listed my albums at the turn of the year, such an album would get a lower rating than it should.  So I at least like to wait until March or April to do the lists.

I realize I'm ridiculously perfectionist about these lists.  Nobody cares about such detail, except me, but I'll look at these lists more than anyone else, so such obsessive attention to detail pays off for my own enjoyment.

As for my readers getting the lists so long after the year being listed is gone, just remember, these albums getting the awards are the cream of the crop, so they’ll still be good even though the list may get posted a couple years late.

Okay, now that you know how the lists are compiled and what all the little details o the list mean, and where to find the links, it’s time to check out some Annual Music Awards lists!  I have repeated the links to them below on the right.

My wife and I often joke that if you’ve lived an outstanding life as a human, in your next life you get to be a cat...just sleep and eat whenever you please.  But if I came back as a cat, I think I’d still want to do music....

Enjoying the pleasure of music

How  The Rankings Are Decided On My Annual  Awards Lists

Music Central is a sub-website of J Lee Harshbarger’s personal website.  To visit other sub-websites, click the links below.

Even zucchinis love music!

All about music!  My Annual Music Awards, my music Hall Of Fame, and other writings about music and musicians I like are found here.  This link goes to the opening page.Welcome.html
An index to my writings about movies, books, and the media in general, such as news coverage and media bias

My political and religious beliefs, and my commentary
 on society and politics.

Photo albums from some of my travels outside of Michigan.  Eventually I hope to include travelogues too.

                     Various photos
                           I’ve taken
                     not connected
                            to any of
                            my web-
                            site pages.

What does it mean to follow God?  What should the church be like?

A list of all the churches I’ve attended, plus full stories about some of them.,_Part_1.html


Stories about churches I’ve visited,_Part_2.html
The “Home” section: my front page, the descriptions for each of my sub-websites, and the descriptions of all the places where I hang out on the web.../Bananaleaf_Central/Front_Page.html

The Top 3 Albums from Each Year’s Music Awards List


  1. 1.ALEIXA:  Honey Lake


  1. 1.VANESSA-MAE:  Storm

  2. 2.MISS ANGIE:  100 Million Eyeballs



  1. 1.MORELLA’S FOREST: Ultraphonic Hiss

  2. 2.ROYAL:  My Dear

  3. 3.VIVA VOCE:  Hooray For Now


  1. 1.BROOMTREE:  Transparent


  3. 3.P.O.D.: The Fundamental Elements of Southtown


  1. 1.REBECCA ST. JAMES: Transform


  3. 3.URBAN D:  The Tranzlation


  1. 1.BON VOYAGE: The Right Amount

  2. 2.ACQUIRE THE FIRE:  Unshakeable

  3. 3.ANDY HUNTER:  Exodus



  2. 2. PACIFIC UV

  3. 3. t.A.T.u.: 200 Km/h In The Wrong Lane


  1. 1. EVANESCENCE: Fallen

  2. 2. LILI HAYDN:  Lili

  3. 3. SKILLET:  Collide


  1. 1. PARADOXX:  New Devotion

  2. 2. ALEIXA:  Disfigured

  3. 3. ZOEGIRL:  Different Kind Of Free


  1. 1. BROOMTREE:  Maybe This Time

  2. 2. ASOBI SEKSU:  Citrus

  3. 3. REBECCA ST. JAMES:  If I Had One Chance To Tell You Something


  1. 1. DREAM LAB:  Club Revival

  2. 2. SITUATION:  A New Wave Of Joy



  1. 1. MICHELLE TUMES  [untitled]

  2. 2. REGENERATOR:  Regenerated-X

  3. 3. DREAM LAB:  Tranceformation


  1. 1. BON VOYAGE:  Lies


  3. 3. THE GO-GO’S: God Bless The Go-Go’s


  1. 1. MY BLOODY VALENTINE:  Loveless

  2. 2. ASOBI SESKU: Hush

  3. 3. APT.CORE: Rhythms Of Remembrance


  1. 1. MISS ANGIE:  Time And Space

  2. 2. G-POWERED: Trust

  3. 3. CHARMAINE: Love Reality


  1. 1. BRITT NICOLE:  Gold

  2. 2. BRITT NICOLE: The Lost Get Found

  3. 3. SARAH MACINTOSH: Current


  1. 1. JOANNA BEASLEY:  Loud Love

  2. 2. MY BLOODY VALENTINE: m b v

  3. 3. AMEON: Genesis

  1. Bullet 2013

  2. Bullet 2012

  3. Bullet 2011

  4. Bullet 2010

  5. Bullet 2009

  6. Bullet 2008

  7. Bullet 2007

  8. Bullet 2006

  9. Bullet 2005

  10. Bullet 2004

  11. Bullet 2003

  12. Bullet 2002

  13. Bullet 2001

  14. Bullet 2000

  15. Bullet 1999

  16. Bullet 1998

  1. Bullet Greatest Rock & Modern Rock

  2. Bullet Greatest Pop & Pop Dance

  3. Bullet Greatest “Other” Styles

This page was first posted August 2, 2009 and last modified on March 30, 2014

I don’t know why I started this, but back in 1997 I made my first “Music Awards,” in which I listed my favorite albums of the year and sent the list via e-mail to friends and family.  I continued doing that each year.  Once I started a blog in 2003, I put the music awards on my blog instead of sending them via e-mail.  Now that I have a website, I am moving the music awards to the website so they can more easily be referenced, as they are intended to be a more permanent record than a fleeting blog entry.

The music awards became especially important during my years working at the headquarters of Borders Books & Music, because I got hundreds of free CDs when I worked there.  This enabled me to discover new styles of music, and to become familiar with albums I would have never purchased on my own.  I especially wanted to share my discoveries of these more unusual findings with my friends.

So, the biggest award years are 2002-2007, when I got so many CDs free.  Some of these award lists are 50 albums, but they still represent only the top 15% of the albums I got that  year.  Now that I’m no longer at Borders, the lists are smaller and since I have to pay for the music, less diverse, but I trust you will still discover music you were not aware of before reading my annual award lists.

  1. Bullet Dance, particularly melodic vocal trance and other electronic styles, such as Eurobeat, dubstep, techno, and synthpop

  2. Bullet Floating, fuzzed-out guitar alternative rock and shoegazer

  3. Bullet Pop punk

  4. Bullet Chill

  5. Bullet Industrial

  6. Bullet Gothic & darkwave

  7. Bullet World Beat, particularly with Middle Eastern and Indian sounds

  8. Bullet Rap

  9. Bullet Indie pop / Dream pop

  10. Bullet Reggaeton (not reggae)

  11. Bullet Modern rock if it’s interesting (too much of it is boring)

  12. Bullet Classical, particularly baroque

  13. Bullet Classical crossover

  14. Bullet Experimental

  15. Bullet Psychedelia

  16. Bullet Funk / r&b

  17. Bullet Zydeco

  18. Bullet ...and more

  1. Bullet Bon Voyage

  2. Bullet Paradoxx

  3. Bullet Aleixa

  4. Bullet Broomtree

  5. Bullet Morella’s Forest

  6. Bullet Miss Angie

  7. Bullet Andy Hunter

  8. Bullet Michelle Tumes

  9. Bullet Viva Voce

  10. Bullet Cocteau Twins

  11. Bullet Regenerator

  12. Bullet Sarah Masen

  13. Bullet Shonen Knife

  1. Bullet MIss Angie

  2. Bullet Britt Nicole

  3. Bullet Krystal Meyers

  4. Bullet David Crowder Band

  5. Bullet Bananarama

  6. Bullet Delta-S

  7. Bullet Tal & Acacia

  8. Bullet The Echoing Green

  9. Bullet Audile

  10. Bullet Paradoxx

  1. Bullet Rick Juler Systems, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1989 & 1991: Live DJing at various locations, including dance clubs, a roller skating rink, a waterpark, and special events.

  2. Bullet United Skates Of America, Springfield, Ohio, 1979 & 1989.

  3. Bullet Various college and school dances

My Official Blog

J Lee’s Soapbox is my “official” blog, where I post my latest thoughts on various topics. This includes my current thoughts on music.

My Music Blog

I started a blog on Blogger to be specifically about music.  I haven’t been active on it yet (only a few entries), but maybe someday...

Web  Communities

At the web communities below, I have written about music.  If you are a part of any of these communities, please let me know.


My Twitter ID is “songsequencer.” I only tweet about music, mostly what I’m listening to at the moment.

My Home Page

I have written reviews for over 100 CDs and books at Amazon. You can find these plus my Listmania lists and Wish Lists at this page.

I don’t writ
e any blog material on this site, but I have added some musicians and music-oriented Groups to my list of Friends.

A place for customer reviews of all kinds of products.  I have some reviews of stereo equipment here.

This has been my major blogging community since October 2004.  Most of my online-only friends are here. 

  1. Bullet 2013

  2. Bullet 2012

  3. Bullet 2011

  4. Bullet 2010

  5. Bullet 2009

  6. Bullet 2008

  7. Bullet 2007

  8. Bullet 2006

  9. Bullet 2005

  10. Bullet 2004

  11. Bullet 2003

  12. Bullet 2002

  13. Bullet 2001

  14. Bullet 2000

  15. Bullet 1999

  16. Bullet 1998

  1. Bullet Greatest Rock & Modern Rock

  2. Bullet Greatest Pop & Pop Dance

  3. Bullet Greatest “Other” Styles