Ah, December. The most wonderful time of the year. The time of year when Fox News and all their right wing buddies put their War on Ramadan on hold long enough to complain about a made-up War on Christmas. Seriously, if there is really a “war” on Christmas, how is it possible that I just watched, on a national broadcast, A Charlie Brown Christmas? They didn’t change the title to A Charlie Brown Holiday. And that Christmas special is overtly religious. These nutjobs who bitch about the War on Christmas always select these minor incidents in fuck-nowhere towns to try and act as though there is some grand national conspiracy against Christmas. But the fact is, if there was a war against Christmas, the all-powerful Muslim/Commie Obama administration would probably start by yanking all the Christmas specials off the air. What’s that, you say? Still get to watch that bullshit special with the CG elves? Yeah. No War on Christmas.
But December is also the time of year when all the big music publications reveal to an adoring public their lists of the best albums of the year. We here at Bollocks! are not immune to such year-end summing up, though I’d like to think we know that it’s really not all that important and we do try not to be stuffed-shirts about it.
Which brings me to a year-end best-of list that I think is worth reading. You can find it here and it’s by a friend of mine from college. Like me, he doesn’t get paid to do this shit. He’s just a dude who felt compelled to write down a few words about some music he really digs. I don’t agree with everything he says (and he certainly doesn’t agree with everything I say), but his list does a few things I like. First off, it has a clear sense of humor – he starts off by talking about how little he liked the new Vampire Weekend album. Second, it’s not, strictly speaking, a list of the best albums of this year. It’s, as he openly admits a list of, “the albums that i happened to listen to year”, so it is free to include albums like the Flaming Lips’ Embryonic. Third, it doesn’t have any bullshit grades or number ratings. You can tell from what he wrote how he feels about each album. When you think about it, that actually kind of rewards you for possessing basic reading comprehension skills. And finally, perhaps most important, this list contains albums I haven’t heard and has compelled me to seek out this music and listen to it for myself. That doesn’t mean I will also love those records, but it’s nice to know that my friend’s list is not just full of the same shit that will be on every other best of list for this year.
I think the best and worst thing about the internet is that it has, in a lot of ways, driven down the value of opinion. I don’t mean that it’s made people value their own opinions any less (this is America and if there’s one thing we know how to do here, it’s completely fucking idolizing our own prejudices), but it has concentrated a glut of opinions in one place. We now have market saturation for opinions and we can now see clearly the people who have a sense of humor about their opinions and the people who are humorless dicks about their opinions. Of course, there are some who would have you believe that the so-called “professionals” who write for (nudge nudge wink wink) “legitimate” publications like Rolling Stone, Spin, and Pitchfork bring a little more authority to their discussions of what is and is not good music. Most of the people who think this work for one of the aforementioned media outlets. And that’s okay; I’m just saying that I think it’s great that the internet will help you find both glossy, big-budget, arbitrarily-number-rated Pitchfork reviews and my sloppy, swear-words-used-for-punctuation, diatribes about the music I love and some of the music I hate. You can choose whichever one you like the best and the Pitchfork people won’t starve. Neither will I, come to think of it, because I have a fucking day job. Two of ’em, in fact.
At any rate, there’s gonna be lots of year-end hullaballoo (might not be the official spelling of that word) on the internet in the next few weeks and, while it’s cool to scroll through fancy slide shows of Blender‘s favorite records of 2010, you might be surprised at the quality musical fandom you can find on some random dude’s blog. By the way, you can feel free to tell me your ten favorite albums of 2010 in the comment section or email them to my pal Jesus and he will pass judgment on them and/or compile them, perhaps into some kind of readers poll and perhaps into some kind of opinion golem that destroys your city. But do, please, if you enjoy hearing about music you might not listen to otherwise, check out my friend’s list. It is informative and entertaining, and exactly right about MGMT’s Congratulations.
So that should officially open 2010’s “Year in Review” Season, for better or worse. I hereby preemptively rate Pitchfork’s best albums list a solid 6.B- out of infinity.