Year-End Lists

by justindburton on December 7, 2011

I can’t resist year-end lists. They’re hokey and arbitrary; they often include songs that weren’t even released in the designated year and are so self-conscious that they say much more about the lister than the listed. But anytime I come across a year-end list, I can’t help myself. At Time, Claire Suddath has released her top 10 songs and albums of the year, and along with the lists, she posted a short description of the process she uses to arrive at her selections.

First, I listen to every single song on every album released this year, even klezmer compilations and mixtapes that random people try to hand me on the street. (This actually happens in New York). Just kidding! Nobody can listen to everything.

I start with a list of all the albums and songs I heard this year. From that, I highlight a few that really stand out — the stuff that I keep listening to long after I’ve finished reviewing it. They will almost certainly make it on the final list. Then, I make a second list of everything I’ve sort of heard but can’t really remember: albums I listened to once, albums I listened to only halfway through, artists I found on Spotify, stuff that has been sitting on my desk for months that I have been rudely neglecting because I’m a terrible person. (Sorry, David Lynch!)

It’s not exactly rocket surgery, but it’s an interesting read, especially next to her actual top 10. She mentions at one point that she “added a very mainstream pop song to my top 10 songs list” and wonders whether “it’s just a pop song” or “really one of the best pieces of music released this year.” That last statement probably tells as much about her thought process as anything, and I can’t really tell which one she thinks is “just a pop song” (is it Cee-lo? Eminem and Rihanna? It doesn’t seem to be any of the indie rock numbers).

Anyway, since it’s the list time of year, and since we all presumably listen to music quite a bit, why don’t we add our own lists in the comments? It seems easiest to work with whatever parameters you’d like to set: favorite songs/albums, best songs/albums, most important songs/albums, etc. Choose one or three or ten or a hundred.

{ 1 comment }

justindburton December 7, 2011 at 10:15 am

I’m pretty sure I’m going to leave out several songs that I actually enjoyed from this year, but here’s what I have as my favorites of 2011, in no particular order:

TV on the Radio, “Second Song” – New TVotR songs always manage to sound familiar without at the same time sounding like retreads. So when I popped the new CD in and encountered this as track 1, I felt very at home – driving bass and guitar lines + funky falsetto = TVotR.

Kanye West and Jay-Z, “Why I Love You” – Watch the Throne was a roller coaster ride, and this was a definite climax. Love the classic Kanye chipmunk sound in the production.

Adele, “Someone Like You” – I mean, it’s just so heartbreaking.

Childish Gambino, “You See Me” – I’m pretty sure I overrate this guy because I love him on Community; so be it. This track nicely blends his admirable flow with his even more admirable wit.

Wale, “Eyes of the Tiger” – This is off of his More About Nothing mixtape. It feels like a conference paper waiting to happen.

Samiyam, Sam Baker’s Album – I can’t really isolate any particular song, but I have enjoyed the album from start to finish several times in my car this year.

Beastie Boys, “Nonstop Disco Powerpack” – Speaking of familiar but fresh…I’ve never particularly loved the Beastie Boys, but I couldn’t stop playing Hot Sauce Committee this summer. This song particularly burns.

The Weeknd, “The Birds Parts 1 and 2” – Again, the whole album works for me, but this pair of songs in the middle seems to carry a little bit of everything that I find compelling in the Weeknd.

Okay, your turn now. What have you been enjoying this year?

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