The Pazz & Jop
critics' poll is a highly influential poll of music critics
run by The Village Voice
newspaper. It is compiled every year from the top ten lists of hundreds of music critics (roughly 800 in the 2004 poll). Albums
have been voted upon every year since 1974 (voting also took place in 1971), and votes for singles
have been tabulated since 1979.
Since the poll's inception, critics have been invited to award their ten albums a total of 100 points, with each album receiving a maximum of 30 points and a minimum of 5. Lists submitted without points are given 10 points per album by the poll's editors. Singles lists have always been unweighted.
Through the years, other lists have been elicited from poll respondents, including local bands (early 80s), EP's ('80s), videos (much of the 80s), reissues (late 80s-early 90s) and compilations (mid-90s). As of the late 90s, the poll again consists of only albums and singles.
Music critic Robert Christgau was in charge of the poll for 33 years, and wrote an essay every year that accompanied and framed the list. Christgau was dismissed from the Village Voice in August 2006, but the paper has continued the feature. Christgau continues to submit his Top Ten list and to encourage other eligible critics to do so.
The poll was jokingly given the spoonerism name "Pazz & Jop" rather than the more obvious "Jazz & Pop" because, inevitably, some detractor will claim that a nominated work is ineligible or undeserving on the grounds that it isn't "really" jazz or pop. Since there are no formal definitions for the made-up terms "pazz" and "jop", voters will concentrate on the actual merits of a work rather than arguing over whether it fits into this or that genre.
"Best Album" winners
"Best Single" winners