Year-End Madness and Albums I Didn’t Review This Year

It’s Christmas week and that means all your favorite music websites are going to spend two weeks totally punting and counting down their favorite songs and albums of 2010. I do not exclude myself from this sort of thing and, in the days ahead, you’ll be treated to a very Bollocks!-y summation of 2010’s best (and worst) music. This year, instead of just counting down the billion best songs and million best albums (seriously, what’s the point of counting down 50 albums? It’s like saying that no albums are really special but these 50 albums are somewhat less un-special than the other albums), I present to you, for the first time, The Bollocks! Awards. Later this week, I’ll present unique awards to the best and worst songs and albums of the year (example: one of the categories is The Morrissey Award for Being the Biggest Asshole in Music). Also, my sometime contributors, Jesus Christ and musical pathologist Rebecca Mellor will write about their favorite albums of the year. And, finally, for you old-fashioned, list-craving people, I’ll tell you my ten favorite records of the year with the caveat that, other than my favorite album of the year (which will be #1), the other nine will be in no real order whatsoever.

But first, we need to talk about the elephant in the room: there are some albums, some of which will end up on other, far-inferior (in my expert opinion) year-end lists, that I deliberately did not review this year. Here’s why: when I review an album, I want to listen to a legitimate copy with the best possible sound quality. That generally means I have to pay for albums and then trade them in if I don’t like them (I used to get albums from e-Music, but they started sucking. On the bright side, the twenty bucks I used to spend on an e-Music subscription is now going to be spent on a monthly donation to the Red Cross. So thanks for sucking, e-Music). I’m neither big enough, important enough nor nice enough to get free promos from record labels. So I try to review albums that I think I will enjoy or at least find interesting. Every once in a while, I’ll pick an irresistibly soft target like Metallica’s Death Magnetic, but for the most part, I try to track down albums that I’ll actually want to keep. So I didn’t review Speak Now by Taylor Swift this year, I skipped the new Kanye West record, and I even eschewed The Age of Adz by indie media darling Sufjan Stevens. Because I was pretty sure I would hate those records.

A couple of years ago, I said that if I obtained a legitimate hard-copy of Guns ‘n’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy, I would give it a fair hearing on Bollocks!. I was given that album as a gift and gave it what I think is a very fair chance to impress me (although certain GNR fans might disagree with threats and swear words). So this year, I’m publishing what you might call a Bollocks! Christmas list. Here are some albums that I will review if copies of them fall into my lap (if you really want me to review one of these albums, it helps to bribe me with alcohol):

Taylor Swift, Speak Now. Taylor Swift is fucking everywhere today. I see her face on billboards, at the checkout stand at Starbucks, and on TV every time I turn around. I caught part of her performance on some TV show and it sounded horrible. But I’ve never sat through one of her albums and, for all I know, they could be great. Probably not though. If, at any time (not just between now and the New Year), someone hands me a legitimate copy of Speak Now, I will give it the same fair, objective critique that all albums enjoy on this blog.

Bret Michaels, Custom Built. I’m not going to like this record. There’s a duet with Miley Cyrus. And I’ve never been a big Poison fan. If I listen to it, it will only be to enjoy the Schadenfreude of one man’s slow descent into utter, post-reality show failure. That may not sound very charitable on my part, but that’s why I haven’t bothered to review this album.

Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Everyone loves this fucking record and I’m gonna go out on a limb here and admit that I actually enjoy a few Kanye tracks. I didn’t purchase My Beautiful Pretentious Album Title because I have never enjoyed an entire Kanye West album and I’m hesitant to spend the money rewarding the man’s titanic ego. Of all the albums on this list, however, this is the one I think I’m most likely to be surprised by.

Sufjan Stevens, The Age of Adz. So-called “indie” people adore Sufjan Stevens and I’ve never been able to figure out why. That Illinoise record was one of the most pretentious, boring albums I’ve ever heard. Was it wrong of me to write off Mr. Stevens based on that one bad experience? I don’t think so, but maybe his new album will change my mind.

Katy Perry, Teenage Dream. This is a soft-target for me, I admit. I have never heard a single redeeming thing in Katy Perry’s music and I’m baffled that anyone over the age of fourteen would listen to this shit. The prospect of sitting through one of her albums is kind of daunting, but I’m willing to do it if a copy should fall into my hands.

I’m pretty much finished with standard reviews for this year, unless I take the leap and pick up the new Kanye record myself, but I’ll be back to the grind in 2011 with reviews of new albums, a new feature called The Worst Songs I’ve Ever Heard, and maybe one or two new contributors.

Stay tuned for The Bollocks! Awards and feel free to litter the comments section with your favorite songs and albums of the year.

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