Listeners' Picks for Album of the Year

The online NPR listeners' poll for top albums of the year produced a list topped by the usual suspects of Radiohead, Wilco and Arcade Fire, but there were some unexpected additions further down. All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen talks with Michele Norris.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

For the past month, NPR listeners have been voting online for their favorite albums of 2007. And the results are in.

Bob Boilen is the host of ALL SONGS CONSIDERED. And Bob's here in the studio with me.

Bob, what are we hearing right here?

BOB BOILEN: They're playing my song. It's a song called "Jigsaw Falling into Place." It's from Radiohead's "In Rainbows," far and away their number one record for NPR listeners this year. And just a remarkable, accessible record from Radiohead, a band that, you know, made you think this year about what music is worth by offering their record for whatever price you wanted to pay.

(Sound bite of song, "Jigsaw Falling into Place")

Mr. THOM YORKE (Vocalist, Radiohead): Just as you take my hand. Just as you write my number down. Just as the drinks arrive. Just as they play your favorite song.

BOILEN: When I looked on the list, I saw some of the things that also sparked me, and I want to pick and, if it's okay, I'm going to play for you what I think was the funniest record on the list.

NORRIS: Oh, I'm up for it.

BOILEN: And it's a record by the New Zealand duo, Flight of the Conchords. They have this HBO series that came out this summer. And they're just - they play a band and - that comes to New York and tries to make it big. And, boy, they're awful, but they're awful and they're funny.

This is "The Most Beautiful Girl," and I'm not going to finish the punch line of the title because the punch line of the title is the punch line of the song. Let's just listen to it.

(Sound bite of song, "The Most Beautiful Girl in the Room")

FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS: Looking 'round the room, I can tell you that you are the most beautiful girl in the room.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. JEMAINE CLEMENT (Vocalist, Flight of the Conchords): In the whole wide room.

FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS: And when you're on the street, depending on the street, I bet you are definitely in the top three…

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS: …good looking girls on the street.

Mr. CLEMENT: Depending on the street.

FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS: And when I saw you at my mate's place, I thought what is she doing?

NORRIS: Any surprises for you?

BOILEN: I was surprised how many long-term independent rock bands made one good record after another. I mean, if I go down the list, you had Arcade Fire was number two, Wilco was number four, White Stripes was number five. Spoon from Austin, Texas was number six; Modest Mouse, seven; The Shins were eight. These are all bands that have put out more than two or three records, and they're all getting better. And that's - that was a surprise.

There's a band who wasn't known very well who've put out a few records over time, also from Austin, Texas. They're called Okkervil River, and they've put out just a fantastic concept record which, you know, right away, concept record — hat a hard thing to do. And usually, they're not very good. Often times, it's just often weighs down the record. They had so much fun in the concept being how things in pop culture pervade our lives.

(Sound bite of song, "Plus Ones")

Mr. WILL SHEFF (Vocalist, Okkervil River): I told you, I can't listen, baby, 'bout the fourth time you were a lady and how your forthrightness betrayed a secret shyness stripped away by days of being hailed as your highness and what's new pussycat as you were once a lioness. They cut your claws out.

NORRIS: You know, Bob, the list is long, and we can't get to everything on that list. But is there anything else you want to point out before we have to let you go?

BOILEN: For ALL THINGS CONSIDERED fans, we followed this guy Andrew Bird since he was, like, 23 or 24 years old. Linda Wertheimer and I did a story on him in the early '90s. He used to do '20s-flavored jazz music, and he's just, over the few years, has been writing this brilliant mysterious music. And he did it again this year - a record that wound up being number 10. And it's beautiful. He plays violin. He's a gorgeous whistler, and be a great song to go out on.

(Sound bite of song, "Scythian Empire")

Mr. ANDREW BIRD: Five day forecast bring black tar rains and hellfire. While handpicked handler's kid gloves tear at the inseams.

NORRIS: Bob, thanks for coming in to talk to us again.

BOILEN: Oh, it's a pleasure.

NORRIS: Bob Boilen is the host of ALL SONGS CONSIDERED.

And you can see the list online and hear lots of the music at npr.org/music.

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