The greatest (and most unlikely) album of 2006

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The Independent Culture

With the fastest-selling debut album ever under their belts, Arctic Monkeys could reasonably expect to be lauded as rock's success story of the year. But, according to a poll of music critics, 2006 belonged to an eccentric folk singer who accompanies her ballads on a harp.

Joanna Newsom has topped the list of 2006's best releases with the otherworldly charms of her second album Ys. Yet she has barely made an impression on the pop charts.

Each year analysts at the retailer HMV analyse the year-end "best of 2006" polls from 24 different publications. The list highlights the gap between the critics' tastes and the buying public. The biggest-selling album of the year, Eyes Open by Snow Patrol, fails to make the top 50 at all, and the Arctic Monkeys' Whatever People Say I Am That's What I'm Not, finished at number five.

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