Michael Blowhard ran a poll several years ago asking for nominations for the Best American Fiction Movie of the Last 25 Years (the Critics Be Damned). A movie could only make it if it was great but not beloved -- maybe even hated -- by serious critics. Therefore, it's not an attempt to out-snob the critics but to celebrate crowd-pleasers that the critics pass over in naming great movies. Die Hard was by far the winner, though others like The Terminator, Back to the Future, and Dumb and Dumber make a good showing too.
Why not do this for albums? Say back through 1980, given that most of the pre-'80s stuff the critics and mass audiences are more agreed on. (The critics would place the later Beatles higher than the average music fan, but they'd both probably put it on such a list somewhere.) As a rough guide to albums that are ruled out for appealing to serious critics, nothing is allowed that appears on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time. (Hit Ctrl + F and search for the album to easily make sure it's not there.) In the interest of space, limit it to 10 albums max. If you need to jog your memory, here's a list of the Billboard #1 albums starting with 1980; a box at the bottom has the other years.
Remember -- we're not naming niche albums that are like art-house films to one-up the critics, but the musical equivalent of Die Hard. Something that was a deserved smash but that you wouldn't learn about by consulting the critics. I'm just winging it with my list; the point is to get the ball rolling and see what types of albums have gotten short shrift.
INXS, Listen Like Thieves
Madonna, Like a Virgin
Bon Jovi, Slippery When Wet
Nine Inch Nails, Pretty Hate Machine
Duran Duran, Rio
Franz Ferdinand, Franz Ferdinand
The Bangles, Different Light
Critic nerds cannot dance, and in their eyes getting your body involved -- especially for some social occasion -- would profane the music, so anything great that has a dance influence will always be underrated (also true in classical music). And as they use music as a refuge from the world, rather than an impetus to get out there and stir shit up, they prefer songs that are cozy and human-scale rather than grand, which leaves out most '80s hard rock or hair metal. I tried thinking outside of my preferences, but there really isn't much from the '90s or 2000s that Rolling Stone didn't already name, like Dookie or Siamese Dream. Music became much more singles-oriented than album-oriented then, so it's not surprising that there's little to choose from.
Anyway, thoughts? Your list? Hall and Oates should be in there somewhere, but I don't have enough of their albums to know which one it would be.