In 2011, back when I was a writer for The A.V. Club, I invented a game called The Five-Albums Test, in which I listed artists and bands that have at least five consecutive very good-to-great albums. Over the years, readers kept bringing up this column, and I was eventually inspired to write a sequel for Uproxx earlier this year. Here’s how I explained it:
Now, this is obviously a subjective test. No two listeners will apply it in exactly the same way. (Also, not passing this test obviously doesn’t mean that you automatically suck. Lots and lots of lots of great artists don’t pass. Please don’t pretend that I’m saying otherwise, Angry Twitter Egg Guy.) However, I submit that The Five-Albums Test is the best way to measure which artists were best at being good for extended periods of time.
In order for The Five-Albums Test to work, you must truly be honest and fair about the which albums by your favorite musicians are actually great and which ones you think are great simply because your fandom has blinded you. For instance, I love every album Oasis has ever made. If you come over to my house, I will put on Heathen Chemistry and talk about how it is a work of genius. But I know Heathen Chemistry isn’t actually genius — I’m just an idiot who likes Oasis albums that other people have wisely avoided. Similarly, I personally feel like Black Sabbath made ten awesome albums in a row, from 1970’s Black Sabbath to 1981’s Mob Rules. But am I prepared to enter a court of law and testify on the record that 1976’s Technical Ecstasy and 1978’s Never Say Die are top-to-bottom perfect albums with no filler? No, I am not.
For this week’s podcast, I decided to play the Five-Albums Test game with one of my all-time favorite music critics, Rob Sheffield. I figured someone with Rob’s depth of knowledge would have an abundance of opinions on who does and doesn’t pass the test. Fortunately, Rob did not disappoint — we wound up talking about everyone from Taylor Swift to Led Zeppelin. It’s the nerdiest episode of Celebration Rock yet!