How I Read Year End Best Album of the Year Lists

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Lists are a big deal on the internet. There are top 8 ways to please your spouse, top 10 foods that fuel your brain and most important this time of year top 50 albums of 2022. Lists have become the obvious way to get people to interact (mostly with anger) and most important of all to get people to click, click, clickity click. It makes sense, in this information age there is so much information lists are easy to read quickly or even skim for the information you want. Instead of reading a deep work about an album, like the 33 1/3 series lists are like putting sugar in our cough syrup.

I shouldn’t like lists.

I love that 33 1/3 series and I like to think about the music I’m listening to critically. Yet I still don’t think lists are a waste of time. It’s true I prefer to lean towards the deep when it comes to art, history, policy and all of the humanities, but lists serve their purpose. Long form is better and stays with you longer and overall makes you a deeper thinker and a more critical thinker, but the list format does get information you need and want in a vehicle that unobtrusive and quick. We just need to understand they are not art or great journalism, they are information tallied in its most basic form. There’s nothing wrong with that (unless it’s a slide show, because screw you bleacher report).

Lists serve their purpose and I like them. Let’s focus in and talk about what this website does every year, a top ten album list. The first thing we should do is quit worrying about someone else’s order and subjectivity. The blogosphere can be silly and there is more to style and certain animal level acceptance a lot of writers are seeking out rather than just putting that they really liked a certain record. Rockcentric blogs suddenly jumping on Chance the Rapper’s mixtape is an example of that. It was great album but it was silly and weird the praise it got from strange places.

I don’t see end of year lists as a ranking but I see them as curation. I’m all over the place, which is obvious to you if you’ve ever read this blog or had a conversation with me. And it’s not just The Needle Drop, Tiny Mixtape, Pigeons&Planes hipster shit. I still listen to all the old punk Fat Wreck and Nitro style bands and I try to support our local orchestra here as much as possible. I couldn’t make a top metal list, I didn’t listen to that many albums, sorry hesher friends. These lists help me find new things and when I am familiar with a large amount of the albums and they’re not in the order I would have ranked them, I don’t get all pissy about it. Let’s eschew the idea that they are rankings (you know even though they are ranking things).

I have my own rules for creating my year end list. Mostly that I don’t have any and I can make them as I go. For example last year three albums tied for the 10th spot on my top 10 list. So it was a Top 12 list actually. A few years ago and likely this year I’m going to have albums from prior years on it that I have been only recently exposed to. Also time and subjectivity also change my lists. Heems was my number one album a few years ago and I hardly listen to that at all anymore. On the other side of that Altar of Plagues and El-P’s album Cancer4cure didn’t make my year end lists despite being listened to during the year but are now easily two of my favorite albums of the last few years.

So that’s year end lists. Don’t take them seriously because none of this is serious.