On Top Ten Lists (updated)

December 22, 2008
By Bret

2008 is fading fast, and 2009 is just around the corner. It’s the end of the year, and ranked top ten (or twenty or fifty or hundred) lists are cropping up for everything imaginable, as usual.

You could spend all day reading through the list of major 2008 year-end lists at Fimoculous, or you could delve into more-specific lists like the music lists at PopMatters. If you really want to be overwhelmed, check out the list of year-end music lists at the Largehearted Boy blog.

These lists can be great for finding worthwhile music/books/whatever that you may have missed over the last year, but there are complications.

Take music lists, for example. For lists by consensus, safe options tend to rise to the top—the albums that everyone kinda likes but no one loves. Lists by individuals can be more daring, but they’re only useful to the point where your particular taste overlaps with the lister’s taste. They also tend to suffer from the problems mentioned here.

I myself have never made a year-end music list quite like those, for a variety of reasons. Even disregarding basic questions about the objective quality of good art vs. bad art (which I think about frequently), here’s a good enough reason: I’m not really an expert on anything, especially anything current.

In the last couple of years, however, I have made year-end music lists of a slightly different nature. In the interests of space, I’ll save the rules and my 2008 list for another post, but here are links to my 2007 and 2006 lists, so you can get an idea of what to expect and can start thinking about your list to be posted in the comments. I might give a little more commentary than I have in recent years, but I do have all my songs picked, so watch for that post soon…


P.S. Here are a handful of bands I’ve run across in top ten lists which I think are worth sharing. They cover a variety of genres, so if one isn’t your cup of tea, try the next one. Links are to myspace pages…because that’s the easy way to do it.

  • Grouper : sleepy, ambient, lovely
  • Peter Broderick : acoustic, subtle, mellow
  • Shearwater : dramatic, dynamic, has a song called Rooks
  • The Dodos : great off-kilter rhythms
  • Cut Copy : catchy dance music, although I don’t know if I would listen to a whole album of it
  • El Guincho : Spanish techno for dancing… very fun
  • DJ/Rupture : wonderfully diverse mix (both stylistically and geographically)

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