I'm not going to lie to you. I love lists. I love ranking things. Give me a topic - most bitter Dylan songs, best Gilbert Arenas buzzer beaters, even something as stupid, say, as 10 random songs heard on a generic radio station - and I'll give you some rankings. But sometimes it just gets to be too much. It mostly gets to be too much when the calendar changes from November to December and we get bombarded with year-end "Best Of" lists. There's nothing wrong with a year-end list. You better believe that you will see a whole bunch of them on this very blog. But you've got to make it mean something, man. There needs to be some purpose, some identity, something interesting to say. This hit me when I was looking over Paste magazine's list of 2007's 100 best albums.
It's not that Paste's list is filled with bad music. Many of my favorite albums of the year can be found on the list of 100. But doesn't that sort of go without saying? It's not like Paste covers an extremely wide spectrum of music. It's mainstream nu-indie, with a nod toward the "chosen few" of other genres (Kanye West, Justice, Amy Winehouse, etc.). The top 10 includes The National, the Arcade Fire, the White Stripes, Feist, Band of Horses and Iron & Wine. Can it get much more predictable than that? (And can it get more beardy than those last two?) Is this list really helping anyone out? And is there really a need to go 100 deep? Is anyone going to say, "Well, I'm on the fence about this new Jesse Sykes album, but Paste says it's the 92nd best album of the year, so I think I'll pick it up!" The only people being helped by that are PR folks who get something they can put on a sticker for the next batch of CDs being shipped out to retailers. Everyone in the world has a say at the end of the year. So why not makes yours mean something?
By David Malitz |
November 29, 2007; 11:30 AM ET
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