List we forget…

14 Dec
The Best of the Best: one man's meat...

The Best of the Best: one man’s meat…

Obsessing over lists plays an embarrassingly large part of the lives of many an adult male (and – albeit probably to a far lesser extent – in those of a fair few females too). Whether it is Rob Fleming’s various top tens as detailed in “High Fidelity”, positions in the Premier League (or in any number of lower divisions or international football leagues / championships) or the ins and outs of the Top 40 (an obsession that is actually more of a dewy-eyed memory for anyone over thirty and probably a bizarre quirk of the pre-ringtone generation for anyone under that age), the list, league, rating or rankings table tends to loom large in any bloke’s subconscious.

The dying embers of a calendar year (read: early December) often provide ample opportunities for list making. Christmas present lists for Father Christmas or for clueless relatives. Christmas shopping lists of mince pies, walnut whips and festive crackers. Christmas card lists which omit all those so-called-friends who forgot to send you so much as an email last year. And, of course, the best-of-the-year lists.

Best films, best gadgets, best buys, best wines, best-dressed celebrities, best books… words of the year, restaurants of the year, bores of the year, beer of the year, rear of the year… and so on ad infinitum.

These lists are merely one publication or one website’s favourite things of the past 12 months or so, and – especially when it comes to music – the taste of one such organ, or even of one opinionated writer. It doesn’t take a social anthropologist to work out that the number 3 album of 2012 in this month’s Metal Hammer is not very likely to be the same as the number 3 album in Hip Hop Connection’s selection, or that however popular One Direction may be on both sides of the Atlantic they are quite probably not going to feature in either NME or Rolling Stone’s Top 20 this year. Or any year.

As a spotty 80s teenager I religiously bought the bumper festive double issues of NME, Melody Maker and Sounds, with their reviews of the year, quotes of the year and – more often than not – photos of bands dressing up in Yuletide regalia, sitting around a table supping mulled wine and similarly mulling the hits of the past 12 months, or even dressing up as other bands. And especially for the papers’ Albums and Singles of the Year. I’d count up the ones I’d bought, add on the ones I’d taped off friends and see how my own favourites had compared with those of the august scribes at Kings Reach Tower or wherever. John Peel’s Festive Fifty – compiled, lest we forget, from listeners’ votes, not the personal favourites of the man himself – was another highlight of this time of year. Later, glossy mags such as Select, Vox, Q, Uncut, Word and Mojo brought their own selections to the table (although if I seem to recall Q used to cop out by not actually assigning a number to any of their favourite platters in a display of the horrendously modern “you’re all winners!” fence-sitting favoured by so many UK schools on Sports Days), forcing me to increase my monthly print-media spend by several hundred percent in the month of December.

But as well as the old “I-bought-that-when-it-came-out-and-it’s-top-three-so-am-I-cool-or-wot”-ness of this list-guzzling, the year-end chart roundup was also a revelation of quality new stuff that had somehow passed you by earlier in the year. I distinctly recall seeing The Flaming Lips’ “The Soft Bulletin” at or near the top of every year end chart I read the year it came out, and never having heard anything by them I decided to seek it out, duly delighted at my discovery.

And so, dear reader, it is now that I dip my toe into the murky waters of the compilation of the first We Love All That year-end “Best of” chart, one that people are bound to have “issues with” because a few rather obvious choices will be found in the upper echelons of the aforementioned hit parades, and also because – inevitably – I will have (according to someone somewhere, or maybe even according to myself some moments after hitting the “publish” button) overlooked some fine body of work, some cracking remix or some or other future generational anthem.

Which always happens. Either because of not realising something came out this year or AMAZINGLY because it didn’t actually register on my radar in time. Despite my spending far too much time on Twitter, Soundcloud, Mixcloud, Spotify, various music podcasts, various music blogs AND listening to BBC 6Music I still don’t hear all the top songs I would like and would thus appreciate any tips on stuff people think I’ve missed. But, please, no X-Factor bollocks, however post-modern-ly ironically hip you may feel it might be.

So stand by. A couple of end of year charts are on their way.

Sometime soon.

At least, before that next My Bloody Valentine album.

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