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Music critics snub the public's taste in Poll of Polls

This year's best-selling singer, Adele, is absent from HMV album of the year list

Poor Adele. Not a phrase you hear often, as she had been having such a good year: grabbing every award going, conquering America and selling millions of records.

But she is not even a contender for the prize that money can't buy – the critics' choice of album of the year. Instead, the anointed arbiters of good music have proclaimed P J Harvey's Let England Shake as the best album of the year.

The only trouble is that hardly anyone would agree with the sentiment, even though Harvey has already picked up the 2011 Mercury Prize. For the latest album from the gloomy indie songstress has managed to sell barely 130,000 copies – a fraction of the 3.5 million-plus that Adele has managed with her latest album, 21.

No matter, for the result is from the annual HMV Poll of Polls, officially announced tomorrow – a ranking drawn from 35 polls by magazines, national newspapers and websites.

Don't expect to see any big names, let alone ones you might recognise. For Britain's music critics have outdone themselves in finding some bands so obscure they wouldn't even be famous in their own homes.

One, tUnE-yArDs (sic), has sold just a few thousand copies of its Whokill album. And the back catalogues of acts such as Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Wild Beasts, Kurt Vile, James Blake and the Horrors are not exactly troubling the bestseller charts.

It's a slap in the face for such music juggernauts as Coldplay, Lady Gaga and Rihanna, who are conspicuous by their absence.

P J Harvey is just grateful for the exposure: "The response to this album has heartened me, and given me great hope for the future."

John Hirst, HMV's music manager, commented: "Musically, the album is untouchable, combining deceptively simple songwriting with sublime musicianship and sparse production to great effect."

But whatever Christmas bonus Harvey reaps from "serious" music fans rushing out to buy her album, it will be small change to Adele. In the Top 10 that really counts – sales – her first two albums have sold more than any other record in Britain this year.

Punters vs pundits...

Best-selling albums of 2011, according to the Official Charts Company

1 Adele – 21

2 Adele – 19

3 Bruno Mars – Doo-wops & Hooligans

4 Rihanna – Loud

5 Lady Gaga – Born This Way

6 Jessie J – Who You Are

7 Michael Bublé - Christmas

8 Ed Sheeran – +

9 Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto

10 Cee Lo Green – The Lady Killer

HMV Poll of Polls

1 P J Harvey – Let England Shake

2 Bon Iver – Bon Iver

3 Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

4 Radiohead – The King of Limbs

5 tUnE-yArDs – Whokill

6 Wild Beasts – Smother

7 Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring for my Halo

8 James Blake – James Blake

9 Tom Waits – Bad As Me

10 The Horrors – Skying