Tuesday, January 05, 2010

List Shock

Rolling Stone's 100 Best Albums of the Decade list intrigues me. I own 14 of the top picks, and I've heard 21 more and agree with most of them, though I'm strangely surprised to see such indie scene favorites as Arcade Fire and Cat Power sharing top billing along with more mainstream, "blah" (and here I editorialize) choices such as Coldplay and U2. This is the magazine that gives 4-star reviews to bands like Linkin Park while still recognizing rollicking, original stuff like TV on the Radio with similarly high scores. How can I reconcile that?

The publication's schizophrenia is reflected in the list of the voters for the feature. "Howlin" Pete Almqvist and Nicholaus Arson from The Hives along with Mary J. Blige, the Senior Vice President of VH1 and four members of Kings of Leon? Yoko Ono, The Black Eyed Peas' Will.i.am, Lil Wayne and two members of Fall Out Boy? I can't criticize the list of voters - it's as diverse as music itself - but it certainly reflects Rolling Stone's weird desire to (and possibly ability to) hit every base possible with their commentary. Rolling Stone eats up the sort of by-the-numbers rock U2 has been putting out for the last decade or more in almost the same breath that they praise Bjork. I have trouble wrapping my brain around it, or even interpreting what this means. Certainly I don't have a specific point in mind.

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