Defying the common wisdom that her career was all but over after the suicide of her husband, Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love and her band Hole have taken top honors in The Times' pop contributors' annual balloting for best album.
Hole's "Live Through This," recorded before Cobain's death, tops a field that ranges from veterans (R.E.M., Neil Young) to emerging forces (Soundgarden) to rookies (Warren G)--not to mention the oldest artist to appear in the poll's 15-year history: Johnny Cash, 62.
Here is our consensus Top 10 (actually 11, with ties). Albums are awarded 10 points for a first-place vote, nine points for second and so forth.
Here are the 17 voters' individual choices for best album: Jann Browne, "Count Me In" (Red Moon): Mike Boehm; Johnny Cash: Randy Lewis; Elvis Costello, "Brutal Youth" (Warner Bros.): Chris Willman; Warren G: Dennis Hunt; Helmet, "Betty" (Interscope): Sandy Masuo; Hole: Robert Hilburn, Lorraine Ali, Steve Appleford, Heidi Siegmund; Shara Nelson, "What Silence Knows" (EMI/ERG): Ernest Hardy; Nine Inch Nails: Chuck Crisafulli, Jonathan Gold; Pavement, "Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain" (Matador): Richard Cromelin; Velvet Crush, "Teen Age Symphonies to God" (550/Epic): Jean Rosenbluth; Soundgarden: Enrique Lopetegui; Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Steve Hochman, Connie Johnson.