Any fan of music journalism, well hell any sort of journalism in the past five years has seen a massive amount of top 10, 20, or 31 lists all over the Internets. They help cull information into one meaty morsel for you to swallow without, you know, have to type shit. Pretty cool, huh?
As a music writer, I get to do plenty of lists, mostly aiming to at least educate and not bore, and to always enlighten and possibly agitate. I'm no fool. Making a music list, especially one involving a broad topic, is maddening. You will always forget something major, and you will end up even accidentally leaving off something that you love yourself, even after days of research.
Most of the time, these are frivolous undertaking which only the most involved music fan could ever understand the mania underneath. It takes a special sickness to try to narrow down 10 measly rock bands as the ten best of all time. Or the best rap lyricists. Or the best backing bands. It seems to me that the magic isn't in the list, it's in the response to the list, because it's a window into everyone's embarrassing soul.
Everything, and I mean everything, is just your humble opinion. In making definitive lists you must end conceding publicly that some things, even things that you hate, are more influential or better than what you love personally. I like Aerosmith's Nine Lives more than Toys In The Attic, but I won't reflect on a list of the best Aerosmith albums, now will I?
It always happens, a huge landmark artist has just died or we are coming up on the anniversary of their passing, and we try to compress what was probably a long and illustrious career into 10 songs that you will only listen to for 30 seconds at a time. Always make sure to leave out one of their undisputed classics to cheese off someone who found the blog through a fan forum. What's this "We Will Rock You" you speak of?
I think I have seen about 10 "Songs Featuring The Use Of A Homemade Theremin" lists clogging my Twitter feed. OK, not really, but you get the idea. Even better on these are the comments where music geeks fight to the virtual death to win dominance over their boneheaded brethren. "1965? It was 1966 you dipshit. Don't quit your day job."
There is a big punk show coming to town, so a music writer makes a vague connection to the concert by making a "Best Punk Bands Of All Time" list. This can only invite trouble, especially if the writer takes a bold step and puts Green Day on said list.
Oh boy. Even if you add a disclaimer saying these are your own favorites, you will incur the wrath of thousands who didn't read your dumb little intro.
I dunno, what are the best Beatles albums released in the '60s?
Led Zeppelin was overrated, and the Beatles were just a boy band. Bruce Springsteen is whiny, and David Bowie looks like a mentally-challenged clown. See? This is a good way to get you to look at a list, and possibly stick around for a few minutes.
Every year around Christmastime, out comes the "naughtiest Yuletide tunes" or something to that affect for us to polish our peppermint stick to. Extra points if the writer can dig up more than five songs about Hanukkah without mentioning Adam Sandler.
Sure you could make a "Best DC Hardcore" list but why do something dull and pedestrian like that when you can tell us about the 10 best Midwestern hardcore three-pieces that weren't Husker Du? A-ha.
Our buddies at LA Weekly recently trotted out their snicker-inducing "Top 20 Worst Bands of All Time List", a collection that made some the commenters call 911 or get so angry that they forgot how to spell "fuck."
Aside from the usual Eagles, Hootie and Black Eyed Peas appearances on such lists, they managed to lambast sacred cows like the Sex Pistols, Oasis, LCD Soundsystem and Rush. One commenter, "Anon" called it all "very retard," but I enjoyed it.
Sometimes, sometimes, it happens when we can come across a list that we bookmark for future reference points. Like Rolling Stone's best album and songs of all-time lists, or a hottest pictures of Katy Perry list. You never know when you will be deep into a review of a Radiohead show and need to stop and look at 20 shots of her rack. Speaking of hot chicks and bazooms...
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The best naked people album covers! On it! The most offensive album inserts? Done! It's a proven fact that you will click on anything that we tell you cannot look at while on your work computer. We suggest taking leave to your company restroom with your smartphone and looking at it in there. It's not like your boss is going to rip you from the toilet while looking at Wendy O. Williams' boobies. And if they do, sue the bastards.