20 Years, 20 Albums, No Trendsetting Bullshit
Spin Magazine has announced their 20 Best Albums of the Last 20 Years. The top ten shapes up like so:
1 Radiohead - OK Computer
2 Public Enemy - It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back
3 Nirvana - Nevermind
4 Pavement - Slanted And Enchanted
5 The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead
6 Pixies - Surfer Rosa
7 De La Soul - 3 Feet High And Rising
8 Prince - Sign O' The Times
9 PJ Harvey - Rid Of Me
10 NWA - Straight Outta Compton
Now, we've done the "best albums" thing before, but never in such a defined (or should I say confined) manner. Limiting the choices to the past twenty years lets out the usual suspects like the Sex Pistols, Dylan, Stones, Beatles and all those other bands I like so much to scoff at just so you can all call me a heretic.
I think when these lists are made, a distinction should be made between best and most important. The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Nevermind may be one of the most important albums since 1985, but I certainly don't think it's one of the 20 best. When one uses a word like "best" in describing music, I think it should be used to denote musical and lyrical superiority, not the impact it had on the music scene.
Editor-in-chief Sia Michel said releases from 1985 were chosen for their "basic brilliance, innovation and overall relevance".See, that's not best. That's important, relevant, etc., but not best. Like the old Rolling Stone Most Important Albums The Critics All Masturbated To lists, the criteria is lacking in one fundamnental quality important to music lists: whether or not it's, you know, good music. Innovation is great. But just because someone discovers a new way to hit the cowbell or a new recording technique does not make their music good. Relevance?
[Ok Computer] was chosen because it "uncannily predicted our global culture of communal distress".
Excuse me but, what the fuck, mate? That's how you judge a best album?
Anyhow, I don't know what the rest of the list looks like because Spin doesn't put their content online and I'm not shelling out any money for that "We are so much cooler and hipper and punk rock than you could ever hope to be" rag.
What do I always do when a list like this comes out? Make my own, similar-but-with-better-criteria list. Which I will do soon, but not before asking, as always, for your suggestions.
The ASV criteria for including an album on the 20 Best Albums of the Last 20 Years list:
- Obviously, had to be released in 1985 or after
- Has to be judged musically. I don't care if the album you pick ushered in a new generation of a new kind of music, if it started the greatest trend in the world or effectively killed a terrible trend or if the lead singer offed himself or the drummer is hot or you masturbated furiously to the lyrics in tenth grade or if it sold eleventybillion records. We're talking MUSIC. Was the album(s), to you, a good album musically, lyrically, emotionally?
- State your case. Why is the album so great?
- I'll make up more rules as I go along, depending on the suggestions that come forth.
I'll be working on my list, which I'll post later. Remember, 1985 and ON. Best music.
*[it should be noted, to avoid confusion and angry emails, that I am not objecting to Ok Computer topping the list]
Update: I started my list, see here.