We have reached the part of the calendar where cultural pundits reflect on the first six months of the year. Congratulations! You won a retrospective! For music critics, this means doing an inventory of 2024’s most notable albums. “Notable” can be defined in any number of ways — artistic quality, commercial success, the anachronistic “water cooler” discourse factor — but taken together these attributes ultimately speak to how memorable a particular work of art is.

But I am not interested in the notable or memorable albums of 2024 — at least not at the moment. What I am curious about is the opposite kind of album. The sort of record that is not notable and not memorable, to the point where its very existence already seems open to question.

What I’m talking about is a memory-holed album. There are a lot of them this year. As a person who is professionally obligated to remember forgotten music year in and year out, I would assert that 2024 already has more memorably unmemorable albums than normal. And I want to figure out why.

To be clear: Hundreds of albums are released every week, and 99.9 percent of them come and go with zero fanfare. And yet those records do not qualify as memory-holed. For an album to qualify as memory-holed, it must have a shot at being remembered. Therefore, it has to come from an act with a large platform. A big record label is involved. A team of publicists is on the case. The media arrives with a bounty of takes. All these things ensure a reasonable expectation that the public will care about an album. Except the public doesn’t care. They don’t care at all, spectacularly. A memory-holed album isn’t necessarily a bad album. It’s just an album that is wiped from our collective consciousness soon after it enters the world. It’s not a matter of love or hate, only indifference.

I’ll illustrate what I mean: Imagine I am holding a gun to your head. And imagine the gun is loaded. And imagine that I am the kind of maniac who will murder someone over a hypothetical scenario. Would you stake your life on guaranteeing — with 100 percent certainty — that Green Day put out a record in first half of 2024?

If you said “yes,” I have good news: Your head presently is still intact. Green Day did put out an LP, Saviors, in January, though I’m sure you did not actually know this any more than you could possibly “know” that a coin will land heads or tails. This was surely a triumph of mathematical probability, not pop-punk knowledge.

Green Day is a perfect example of the “memory-holed album” phenomenon because they have put out so many of them in the past 20 years. Just try to name a Green Day record released after American Idiot. I’ll give you extra credit if you can name a single song from any of those records. (I might also ask if you are Billie Joe Armstrong in disguise.) For Saviors, music writers dutifully reported that Green Day was back to making “political” music in the style of American Idiot (which turns 20 this year) with a dash of the snotty, n’er-do-well charm of Dookie (which turns 30 in 2024). The album was talked about a lot during a slow time of the year for music releases. It certainly had an opportunity to be remembered. Nevertheless, here I am at the end of this paragraph and I’m having trouble recalling who I was talking about at the start of the paragraph. That’s what I call a good and thorough memory-holing!

I don’t want to pick on Green Day too much, as later work by legacy rock bands typically is memory-holed by default. You might be surprised to learn that Kings Of Leon put out a record, Can We Please Have Fun, last month. Harry Styles’ producer apparently worked on it, though I doubt even he could either confirm or deny it at this point. The Black Keys recently got an extra push for their memory-holed 2024 album, Ohio Players, though for the worst possible reason: Their arena tour in support of said album was canceled. People forgot the record, but they remember the shuttered tour. The music business, like life itself, is cruel.

2024 is extraordinary thus far for how many albums you would have predicted being at least somewhat relevant not being relevant at all. Legacy rock bands have a low relevancy ceiling, but what about young and promising rock acts? The U.K. indie outfit The Last Dinner Party entered 2024 riding a wave of hype for their debut album, Prelude To Ecstasy, released in February. Comparisons to another buzzy British rock act, Wet Leg, were inevitable. For about two weeks this winter, I heard about them constantly. And then … crickets. As if a power cord was suddenly kicked out of an outlet. The same could be said for All Born Screaming, the well-reviewed seventh album from St. Vincent that was swiftly erased from the critical conversation soon after its late-April release.

(We also can’t forget to remember to forget Hymnal Of A Troubled Man’s Mind, the latest LP from one of 2023’s most buzzed-about lightning rods. Alas, the fudge rounds have fallen by the wayside in 2024.)

Let’s raise the stakes. In February, Usher performed for more than 100 million people at the Super Bowl. Two days before that, he put out his ninth record, Coming Home. Honestly! I assure you this happened! The following month, Justin Timberlake released his sixth LP, which I’m told was called Everything I Thought It Was. It came and went so fast that there was barely any time for the pre-programmed anti-JT backlash. (Don’t worry backlashers, your time has arrived.) Oh — I forgot this part — Jennifer Lopez also put out an LP, This Is Me … Now, in February that got the unfortunate Black Keys-esque “canceled tour” publicity bump a few months later.

Of those albums, only the Lopez record can be considered an out-right bomb. (It peaked at only No. 38.) The Usher and Timberlake releases both debuted in Billboard’s Top 5. But short-term success does not prevent long-term memory-holing. Think about the slowly erasing family photo from Back To The Future. A lot of memory-holed albums are like that. You can sense them fading away in real time. Two LPs that debuted at No. 2 on the chart, Dua Lipa’s Radical Optimism and Kacey Musgraves’ Deeper Well, have essentially evaporated, while Ariana Grade’s Eternal Sunshine similarly feels a little fuzzy at this point despite some enduring singles.

So, why is this happening? There are numerous explanations, some of which you might have already heard. There is too much music. Attention spans are too short. Tech platforms are incentivized to push volume of songs over focusing on certain tracks that might deserve extra attention. And then there is the matter of Taylor Swift and how she has eaten the corpus of pop music in the 2020s. Her latest album, The Tortured Poets Department, has stayed perched at the top of the charts for months, which has inevitably overshadowed her aforementioned pop challengers. Taylor has even affected the recent work of Billie Eilish and (sorry!) Beyoncé, whose respective albums Hit Me Hard And Soft and Cowboy Carter aren’t exactly memory-holed but feel a little memory-muted after their initial PR blitzes.

All these explanations are valid. But I would add another: The numbing and frankly dull familiarity of pop music in 2024. Here’s an honest question: How often are you surprised by what is popular? If you’re like me, the answer is “not often at all.” To be fair, this is true of all of pop culture. A feeling of déjà vu also pervades our movies and TV shows. We are in the middle of a prolonged, stagnant, “rerun” moment in so much of what we watch and listen to. And this naturally makes much of our art a lot less memorable.

Even the stuff people love feels a little warmed-over. The most acclaimed pop record of recent weeks is Brat, the latest from Charli XCX, the 31-year-old British singer who has been cast in an upstart role in relation to the hegemony of Taylor Swift. Only Charli has been played that part for more than a decade at this point. (There are countless “Charli XCX is the future of pop music” articles going back to the early 2010s to support this.) But while Brat musically is well-constructed and enjoyably frothy, lyrically it is just as self-absorbed and borderline insipid as Taylor’s overstuffed 2024 opus. (Oh, there is a song inspired by one of the co-hosts of Red Scare? This should not be a selling point for an album, it should be a point of mockery!)

The music that stands out the most in the first half of 2024 feels at least slightly unexpected — the slow-build rise of Chappell Roan in the pop world, the acclaim garnered by Cindy Lee in indie circles. And then there was the epic battle between Drake and Kendrick Lamar, the only pop moment that managed to dethrone Taylor Swift from the center of conversation this year. Who could have predicted at the start of the year that Kendrick would re-emerge from self-appointed exile to say hilariously mean (and slanderous) things about the most commercially successful rapper of the last 10 years? Not me. And not you, either. Though it’s possible that we’re not remembering things properly.