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Tuesday, 11 December 2012

End the end-of-year lists

End of year lists, eh? Fantastic aren’t they? All that vital information, condensed down to a handy “Top 20” format. Brilliant.

Er, well, no. The opposite. Browsing other people’s annus mirabilis reflections is … activitus horribilis. C’mon! Do you really want to know if someone thinks Kate Bush’s “long-awaited” long-player is “album of the year”? (Actually, that was last year, but you know what I mean).

OK, this year I see that one august music journal believes a certain Australian rock band (Tame Impala) has produced the year’s best collection of new songs in a CD-type format. Hmm. Funnily enough I caught two of their world-beating tunes on (whisper it) the Jools Holland show the other week (don’t be disturbed dear reader, it was a purely accidentally bit of viewing). Jeez ….

No, whether or not you think this particular brand of retro rock is any good (I don’t, personally), surely we can do without the hyped-up listing approach. Even “quality” publications like WIRE seem addicted to the habit. The current issue has several pages of lists (a top 50, individual contributors’ lists). I even came across a website that aggregates lists into a list of end-of-year lists. (Soon we'll have lists of lists of lists). It’s list-mania. What would Franz Liszt have said? (Sorry).

 I've got a little list

In Ye Olden Days Of Merrie John Peel his show also suffered, I thought, when he plodded through that festive 50 nonsense (the all-time top 50, dominated by The Sex Pistols and Joy Division, was even worse). Basically, he placed the show in a format straitjacket and as a result it sounded … crushed.

No, lists should be consigned to oblivion (or at least Radio 1). I have a sneaking suspicion that lists are deliberately designed to play well with the obsessive collector, the compiler-type. The psychology of list formation is akin to the Discocogs-type record collector. All that stuff about “wantlists”. It’s music criticism in the service of consumption as a habit. It reeks of payola and cynicism, while attaching itself to the music consumer’s darker unconscious desires. Buy, buy, buy. Collect, collect, collect. Just one more to complete the set …

Woah. I’ll stop there.

No, junk the lists. Listen to what pleases you. Buy (or don’t buy) anything you want. New or old.

And naturally, none of the above applies to the one end-of-year list that truly matters. The one they all look for, pore over, and quote among themselves for the entire year ahead. Yes, that’s right. It’s the Niluccio on noise 20 Best Gigs Of The Year list. 2012's coming soon …


  1. I think I read somewhere that the human brain likes lists, so it's probably satisfying a subconscious need.
    I find the 5 things we learnt about blah blah lists the worst.......

  2. Yes, I really should have done the blog as a "Ten reasons why I dislike lists". Might have had a few people read it then!