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The best albums of 2012

Frank Ocean performed during the “All Tomorrow's People” festival in Manhattan.

Karsten moran for The New York Times

Frank Ocean performed during the “All Tomorrow's People” festival in Manhattan.

Like many of the bands that make it into the annual flurry of Top 10 lists, consensus itself may be a bit overrated. This was a year without a central nation-galvanizing album — and last year’s, Adele’s “21,” was the highest-selling this year, too. Without an obvious album of the year, critics can enjoy a more free-roaming diet.

Suffice it to say, it was a filling year. Our picks for the year’s best albums come from the tip-top of the charts and the very edges of the underground, representing rock, folk, electronic, jazz, hip-hop, R&B, classical, world music, and all the hybrids in between.

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Because so much of our favorite music arrives unattached from albums these days, we’ve gathered up some of our favorite tracks of the year. And no, “Gangnam Style” isn’t one of them — so perhaps consensus isn’t dead after all.

MICHAEL ANDOR BRODEUR

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