Yeah, I know, I said I wasn't going to post anything new today. I lied.
Every year, my favorite/least favorite issue of Paste Magazine is the one where the year's best albums, films, and books are ranked. Every year Paste gets it completely wrong. This is because they don't publish my own rankings. Most people seem to operate according to these sensibilities as well, except they're not me, and therefore I disagree with them. They all suck.
Among the charges leveled at Paste’s recently published list of the Best Albums of 2007:
-- What a lame-ass, mainstream list. Why can’t you be adventurous and cool, like me?
-- Who the hell has even heard of these albums? Why don’t you list something we might have actually heard? Or at least I might have heard?
-- Where the hell was Panda Bear/Menomena/Dirty Projectors/The Bastard Fairies/Aqueduct? How did you manage to forget about the best album of the year, and why are you not Pitchfork?
-- Umm, Paul McCartney? He’s still alive, you know.
-- You hate Britney Spears, just like every other lame-ass, pretentious music publication except Rolling Stone. I love their pictures. And I looooove Britney. She’s talented, she’s a good mom, and she is better off without K-Fed.
-- Charles Mingus released the best album of 2007, even though he’s been dead for 28 years (Editor’s Note: this is actually a correct view).
I could go on and on, but for a fine, entertaining representative sampling of these views, you might want to check out the article and extensive comments section over at stereogum.
There’s a familiar, comforting cycle to these events. Paste and other publications boldly set forth their views. Then the music fanatics get on their blogs and publish their Top 10 Most Overrated Albums of the Year and Top 10 Most Overrated Music Magazine lists, and the aggrieved music critics counter with their Top 10 Most Overrated/Pretentious/Clueless Music Bloggers lists, and the hilarity just goes on and on.
But here are some facts, facts I tell you, that may help you keep it all in perspective.
-- If you check the list of Upcoming Releases on allmusic.com, the most comprehensive music resource on the web, you’ll find that there are approximately 400 - 500 albums released every month. And that doesn’t include the hundreds of albums self-released every month by bands/musicians who have their own MySpace page, an Apple computer with Garageband, and the wherewithal to press a few CDs for their families, friends, and the potentially millions of fans who just need to hear the music to be won over to the cause.
-- Assuming only the 400 – 500 albums per month listed at allmusic.com, there were 5,000 – 6,000 new albums released in 2007. If you listened to the radio in Columbus, Ohio, even to that progressive NPR station, you heard about .1% of the new music released this year, roughly one new song for every 1,000 new songs released. At the other extreme, if you were a music critic who listened to new music non-stop, rarely slept, never bathed, had no social life (related?) and no discernible means of employment – in other words, if you listened to new music 18 hours per day, 7 days per week, without a respite, and without, you know, actually taking the time to write anything about the music you heard – you would have barely been able to listen to all the new music released this year, and you still wouldn’t have scratched the surface of all those self-produced/self-released albums. And you would smell.
-- It’s hard, if not impossible, to take it all in.
-- This is art, not algebra.
-- People are different. This can be a good thing. I learned this from Sesame Street long before I heard that washed-up, worthless old hippie fart Jessie Colin Young and the Youngbloods exhort us all to smile on our brothers and love one another right now. And you see how well the lesson has stuck. But really. People are different.
Just as a footnote, in an article just published at allmusic.com, the fine writers/critics associated with that organization just posted their own lists of their Top 10 albums from 2007. Of the approximately 20 writers/critics and 200 albums represented, roughly 150 of them are unique. Let me repeat that: roughly 150 of them are unique. Nobody agrees with anybody. And you know what my #1 favorite part of the article is?
1) The 50 aggrieved commenters who complain that their own favorites are not represented.