Spin IT's 2012 End of the Year Worst Lists List
Posted by Mejdy Jabr on Monday, December 31, 2012
Over the years, I’ve grown to despise ranked end-of-the-year lists collectively. I understand the concept of suggesting albums, movies, video games, or books to people just before the New Year as a means of saying “Hey, you might have missed this,” but is there any greater form of grandstanding than actually sitting down, taking your list, assuming that you’ve fully digested every piece within whatever form of media you’re creating your list for, and then saying “Here’s the 10/50/100 best ______ of the Year, y’all!”?
Subjectivity reigns supreme in the world of music, no matter how many cocky writers on big-time websites would have you believe otherwise. More notably, though, while I am humble enough to submit to the lack of real objectivity in any art form, I also have enough hubris in my own taste in music to play ball with some of these sites masquerading as musical authorities.
It is from my own strange, in-betweener status that the genesis of this list came to be. During hours of deliberation (and laughs), Spin IT contributor Don Kellum and I rummaged through every crevice of the Internet that we could find, chose the absolute worst lists, digested them well, ranked them, and now we’re saying “Here’s the 5 worst Year End Lists, y’all!”
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the first ever annual “Spin IT End of the Year Worst Lists List.” Enjoy.
There were definitely lists with significantly worse album selections than Pitchfork in 2012. Their making this list is not a knock on their music selection as much as it’s a knock on the way the list is created, which basically revolves more around the album’s overall level of Pitchfork hype as opposed to their actual feelings about how good and influential the album was in 2012.
If you compare Pitchfork’s highest rated albums side-by-side with their top 50 list, you won’t find much of a difference.
The key to despising this list is in the details of the differences between the lists presented in the previous paragraph. For instance, Crystal Castles, whose new album ranked 91st overall when compared to other albums the site rated in 2012, was included on the year-end list. Ty Segall’s “White Fence” ranked 60th overall based on rating but was bumped up to the 18 spot on the year-end list. One of the more notable exclusions on the list is Passion Pit’s latest album, which ranked 34th overall amongst rated albums in 2012.
What is the significance in these convenient inclusions and exclusions? Well, in summation, Pitchfork is spineless.
They stood by the Passion Pit album so adamantly initially, but when they realized the “real cool kids” weren’t feeling the more polished sound and the band became overplayed on Satellite Radio, the site bent to its audience (white, 18 year old mostly males / some females). Once the site recognized they could still use Crystal Castles to further their own agenda (even though they’ve, like, already totally released 3 albums so they’re old!), they did so without blinking an eye.
From there, everything else on the list is very rank-and-file, a celebration of Pitchfork as only Pitchfork can.
Here are some of the artists whose new albums were very intentionally excluded (for the likes of Rick Ross and Schoolboy Q) because they went over their audience’s head, are now too old and uncool, or both:
Jack White, Lower Dens, Daughn Gibson, Sun Araw, The xx, Thee Oh Sees, Bish Bosch, Captain Murphy, Liars, Tindersticks, Deerhoof, Angel Olsen
And those are just off the top of my head…
That is the sin of extremely arbitrary ranking.
I know what you’re thinking: “But Mejdy, you said all list rankings are arbitrary blah blah blah...”
While that’s true, there should at least be some consistency within one’s own list. It may be flawed, but it shows that you at least think that you know what you’re doing.
SPIN likes to cater to their audience the way that Pitchfork does, but it’s a lot more confusing for them because their readership isn’t nearly as homogenous.
That tends to cause a very mixed list that feels more like a pick ‘em between two separate people than any kind of organized assortment of albums. Let me walk you through some of what I’m talking about:
#48 Best Coast; #45 Nicki Minaj
#44 Deftones, #40 Animal Collective, #38 Taylor Swift, #37 R. Kelly
#35 Jack White, #33 Thee Oh Sees, #31 The xx, #27 Sleigh Bells
#26 Tame Impala, #23 Dirty Projectors, #13 Cloud Nothings, #11 Future
As you may have noticed, some albums were also slapped with a lower rating than they deserved, but that’s the kind of stuff we could nitpick all day. SPIN’s top 10 albums are far from good, but they're not bad enough to garner this list a spot in our top 3, so it comes in at the 4 spot.
3.) Guitar World
And other times, you fall flat on your face in your efforts. A quote on the list from Guitar World:
“… But if there's one thing to take away from the 50 albums below, it's this: The guitar is very much alive and well in 2012. It survived the rise of the keyboard in the '80s and the overwhelming bass-barrage of electronic dance music of the early 21st century and shows no signs of waning in relevancy. Whether you're still plugging into a vintage Vox AC30 with your trusty Strat or just got your hands on an Axe FX and a new Ibanez eight-string, the guitar isn't going away any time soon.
And with that in mind, the Quote of the Year award goes to one Eddie Van Halen, who summed all that up so succinctly when he said, "I'm just a guitarist in a kick-ass rock and roll band. What more could I ask for?" Amen, and see you in 2013.”
The guitar is alive and well; unfortunately, most of the players yielding the axes from this list are what’s become too ripe.
It probably deserves the #1 spot, but I'm not here to pick on novelty lists. Good job; good effort.
Complex’s actual year-end list is actually much better than their “Best So Far…” list that they compiled over the summer. In fact, the list holds up well until the top 16, where it inexplicably implodes:
I think it’s noteworthy that most of these albums are garbage, but it’s not the only reason that Complex comes in at #2 on our list. In fact, I actually liked “Grief Pedigree” by Ka. I have qualms with the fact that all of these artists were also placed ahead of artists who could not only be easily argued as having had better, more innovative albums but could also be proven to have been more influential.
It's not like Complex didn't know that better music was out there; they intentionally put these junk albums ahead of much better ones.
My best guess is that they gave precedence to the radio behemoths because they received more airtime and were thus, seemingly, more influential around the 2012 music scene than the “indie blog” artists thrown on the back burner.
As most fans of music have recognized for years now, that couldn’t be further from the truth, and it speaks to a level of out-of-touchness that’s been displayed by Complex lately.
Side Note: Wiz Khalifa’s latest album dropping in at #8 on their list is probably the most baffling list inclusion of the year to me.
1.) Rolling Stone
The best quality of this list (and by best, I mean worst) is that it contains a little bit of every other bad list’s worst qualities.
It promotes its own brand (a la Pitchfork), gets arbitrary in its rankings at times (a la SPIN), is out of touch with current music aficionados (a la Guitar World), and found ways to sprinkle completely irrelevant albums randomly throughout its list (a la Complex).
Congratulations, Rolling Stone. You are the essence of why I hate End-of-the Year Lists, and you are forever Spin IT’s 2012 Worst List.
I’m sure we’ll be seeing you again next year…
Have a safe and happy New Year, everybody.
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