With the pending arrival of the New Year comes a time of reflection. Though Rob Gordon of High Fidelity would argue that list-making is a year round activity (particularly top-five lists), the end-of-the-year best-of lists are really a genre unto themselves.
Spending any amount of time on the webbernet this time of year, you’ll stumble across at least a handful of such lists, and likely more. Torontoist is busy blogging about Toronto’s Heroes and Villains which you’ll be able to vote on from December 27-30. SPIN has a rather hilarious ranking of their favourite twitpics of the year (my fave: Snoop Dogg). One of our friends on Twitter sent us his blogpost detailing his favourite concerts of the year; you can check it out (and vote for yourself) here.
There’s a lot of ground to cover in the world of year-end-lists so, we’ve distilled down this year in music into our very own list.
Soundboard’s Top Ten List of…Year-In-Review Lists!
10. The scientific: Billboard issued their many, many year-end charts. Not surprisingly, scandalous Lady Gaga is Top Artist while, of course, sweet Taylor Swift takes second prize. As this list is a cross-section of all genres, it’s kind of fun to see Alicia Keyes (#21), Susan Boyle (#12), the Glee Cast (#37) and Brad Paisley (#64) hanging out together in Billboard-land.
9. The classic: Rolling Stone issued their take on the 50 Best Songs of 2010. Like Billboard, this list crosses genre lines though is perhaps not quite as far reaching (read: Kenny Chesney doesn’t make the cut). This seems to be one of the only year-end lists that didn’t forget about Cee Lo’s saucy single that took the internet (and the mainstream, if you count his radio-friendly version “Forget You”) by storm.
8. The indie: Yeah, yeah I know – that word doesn’t mean anything anymore. I’m going to use it anyway, because the spirit of the word is the vibe that Exclaim!’s Pop & Rock Albums of the Year list gives. Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs takes the cake here and other class acts Owen Pallett, The National, Sufjan Stevens, local hero Diamond Rings, and sixteen other artists and bands round out the list of twenty.
7. The inspirational: BlogTO makes this list for their list The Top 10 Toronto Breakout Artists and Bands in 2010. I give much respect to BlogTO for finding a new spin on the end-of-the-year list – one that gives support and love to those who are new to the scene (at least in their current configuration). Inclusions are Isis Salam, the energetic beyond all belief Thunderheist member; Sheezer, the all girls Weezer cover band (say it is so!), and taking #1 is Jimmy Brooks, I mean Drake.
6. The mandatory: You really can’t have a ranking of music rankings without the head ranker of all – Pitchfork. Over the years, their annual year-end list of the Top 50 Albums has vindicated album purchases and arguments about said purchases for hipsters everywhere, (as in “Ha! I told you, fellow-hipster, that in this, the year 2008, the Fleet Foxes album was totally more rad than Deerhunter’s.”) This year’s list, however, saw some serious backlash from fellow online music magazine Chartattack for naming Kanye West’s latest effort as #1.
5. The critical: The National Post’s end-of-the-year rankings are still a work in progress. The Battle Royal of Albums is pitting album against album in what I picture to be a room full of critics pacing, arguing, and ultimately choosing the winner in jury duty style proceedings. For an example, check out the third Quarter-final contest between Arcade Fire and She & Him.
4. The local: EYE Weekly gives us The Best Toronto Albums of 2010 which, we’re excited to see features Doug Paisley’s disc Constant Companion (Doug Paisley just performed as Special Guest for Bahamas at Glenn Gould Studio in November). The weekly also features the best concerts of 2010 and a review of the Toronto music scene in 2010 reminding us about the Toronto & music love-in that was Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and the everlasting phenomenon that is/was K’naan’s “Wavin Flag.”
3. The listen-to-able: Can I just say, for the record (pun-intended), that I heart Spinner? There’s always good stuff there – live performances, downloads, and most excellent – “Listening Party,” streaming of new CDs for free! Spinner has joined the list-making-train and put together theirs, entitled Best Albums of 2010: 30 Releases That Mattered Most This Year, and in true Spinner style, it comes “complete with CD listening party and Interface links so you can hear (and download) much of this gobsmackingly great music for yourself.” If you haven’t already heard them, here’s your chance to check out Broken Social Scene’s Forgiveness Rock Record (#16) and MGMT’s Congratulations (#14) among other required listening for 2010.
2. The invitational: While this is a very different sort of year-end ranking, it’s one to watch – as it happens – year after year. In Chartattack’s 26th Annual Year-End Readers’ Poll, you have the chance to vote on such delightful categories as The Golden Toque (Best Canadian Album), The Lord Mullet of Stanley Award (Best Hair), and The Follow the Herd Award (Stupidest Trend). Most fun is the “View Results” option where you see the battles really happen – check out The Throw Your Underwear Award Female (Sexiest Canadian Woman) to see a real duel between Avril Lavigne and LIGHTS.
1. The all-inclusive: Like EYE Weekly, NOW Magazine pays some well-deserved attention to the fun times in Toronto with lists like Top 10 Local Albums. NOW, however, wins our year-end award for best year-end awarding because of its totally thorough and comprehensive review of pretty much everything in their 2010 Year In Review. Check out The Top 10 Concerts (on which the Belle & Sebastian concert at Massey made #5) and Best & Worst Comedy where “Funniest Interview” went to Women Fully Clothed for taking NOW Magazine on a run around the city in their tour van (in advance of their Massey Hall performance in May). Of course, Now Magazine also has your standard Top 10 albums and a wide assortment of other rankings including topics on Food & Drink, Environmentalism, and don’t forget 2010: The Moments that Defined a Wild Year.
Stefania Paterak is Programming Coordinator at Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall
“10″ photo by jontintinjordan