With every music blogger afforded the opportunity to definitively delineate his precise breed of hipness at the crepuscule of the year in the form of a “Best of the Year List,” it comes as no surprise that the month of December saw (as it does every year) a major shift from current music journalism to yearlong critical evaluation. Don’t get me wrong—I love lists. I like listing my favorite things: Nicolas Cage movies, Nicolas Cage movie quotes, Maine Turnpike Rest Stops, etc. If my intro sentence to this post may have intimated that I actually hate the custom of year-end-lists, it’s because I only kind of do.
“Woah! WTF Bill! If you like making lists, then why do you hate the blogger practice of producing a ‘Favorite Shit of the Year’ rundown?”
Well that’s a good question, and it highlights the exact inconsistencies in year-end blogging that irk me so. First, and most simply, the end of the year ain’t shit in music. Yeah, it’s a big deal when the ball drops. Calendars need to be changed, kids need to get used to dating their homework with a new number, seniors enter their year of graduation and recent graduates leave theirs. The end of the year represents a figuratively sobering, mostly symbolic moment that affirms the passage of time. People, including me, like to take the end of the year as an opportunity to reflect on the past year. Why shouldn’t they?
The reason I don’t like year-end lists (and I’ll keep it short because it’s just as trite to hate on year-end lists as it is to produce them) is because they evoke an artificial sense of finality that I don’t consider to be reflective of the fundamental continuity of music. Now that the month is January instead of December, these year-end lists would have us believe, we can confidently bury the hatchet on 2009 knowing that the year in music has been accurately summed up.
What I am driving at here is that the omission of a given record from year-end lists at large threatens to inhume it beneath the days massive body of music of the past 365 days for the relatively extraneous reason that the clock recently struck midnight on a new year. To illustrate my grievances, allow me to introduce what I hope will be a regular fixture in the coming weeks on Playtonic D’s: the DON’T SLEEP ON 2009 series. I will be highlighting bands and artists that produced excellent records in 2009 that are in danger of being entombed like Herculanians under the dust and ash of the collective Mt. Vesuvius’ “Best Of 2009.”
NOTE: My favorite Nick Cage movie quotes coming sometime soon.