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Selection Criteria

"World music" is an exceptionally wide-ranging term. Does world music mean music that’s not in English? Does a world music artist have to create music from his/her own particular country or ethnic background? What about "big name" world artists (like Enya, Celtic Woman, Bob Marley) who have had mainstream Top 40 hits? In the end, we came up with the following criteria:

• Broadly speaking, world music is not traditionally Western. We’ve chosen albums featuring music from a particular region, culture, or heritage.
• Albums can include lyrics in English and/or Top 40 hits, as long as the music itself draws from non-western rhythms, instruments, or melodies.
• One album per artist
• No EPs or singles—this list is about albums
• No greatest hits collections or compilations except in cases where no actual album was available, or where the collection acts as a proper album. Bob Marley’s Legend, being a greatest hits compilation album, did not make our list, but Catch a Fire did.

Of course, our editors exercise their judgment regarding quality and/or historical significance. If you disagree with our choices (and there's a good chance you will), let us know in the customer discussions at the bottom of the page.