When told he had been selected SPIN's Artist of the Year, Beck mulled the news over for a second, plucked a grape from a bowl of fruit, stared at the floor of his tour bus, and then quietly and thoughtfully replied, "I don't mean to sound rude, but to be honest, there wasn't much competition."Of course, he's right. There were a lot of good albums in 1996, but not a lot of great ones. The best of them–from the Fugees to Everything but the Girl to R.E.M. to Pulp–all experimented in their own way with dance beats and grooves. Even big, bad heavy-metalers like Metallica and White Zombie pledged allegiance to the remix. But when Beck's Odelay arrived in June, it stood apart immediately–not because it was a perfect album but because it was perfectly imperfect.