When I look at other sites with music lists, particularly best-of-the-decade or best-ever type lists, I mostly look at two things. I'm interested in the amount of overlap with my lists and I'm interested in their approach and the care they put into developing the lists. Recently, I was looking at a site called Vinyl Surrender, especially the Top 200 Songs of the 1980s compared to my list of the Top 500 Songs of the 1980s.
In terms of care and approach, this is a really excellent site. He's even got an FAQ, and the links to other music lists are quite handy. I gather that the top songs of the decades lists incorporate site member voting. That explains why some very, very popular songs are at the top, but it makes the oddities all the more difficult to explain. I'll say a bit more about that shortly.
In terms of the comparison, I think the Vinyl Surrender list is not static due to ongoing voting, so this could change after I post this, but for now here's how his top 10 stacks up against my overall list and visa versa.
At #1, #2, and #3 on the Vinyl Surrender chart, U2's "With or Without You", Guns'n'Roses "Sweet Child of Mine", and Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" did not make my list at all, but other songs by all 3 artists do appear on my list. At #4, inexplicably ranked among other megastar artists, the Stranglers make the Vinyl Surrender list with "Golden Brown". I had it at #239 on my list and I agree it's a great song, but I was startled to see it here so high. He's got Tom Petty and #5, and I apparently don't have any Tom Petty on my 80s list. That feels like a possible oversight on my part, but he is at least on my 70s list.
Rounding out the top 10, Vinyl Surrender (as of July 24, 2011) had The Cure, U2 (again), Michael Jackson, The Cure (again), and Phil Collins 1989 track "Another Day in Paradise". Phil Collins' "Something in the Air" just missed the cut on my top 500 list, but none of the dreck he made in the late 80s got any consideration on my list. Michael Jackson did make my list, but "Billie Jean" lost out due to my one-song-per-album restriction.
The Cure also makes my 80s list, but "Boys Don't Cry" (#6 on the Vinyl Surrender list) is not on my 80s list. It's a great song, so why isn't it on my 80s list? It's #94 on my 70s list! I guess it's an issue of US vs. UK release dates and/or 7-inch versus LP release dates. I had trouble with this issue for a number of tracks on my lists with turn-of-the-decade songs. At #11, we come to the first song on his list that made the top 100 on my 80s list (The Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams", which came it at #81 for me).
So let's see how the matches go when we turn it around the other way. As I noted in my interview, the best punk songs rose to the top of my list in head to head matchups with the best non-punk songs, and punk doesn't fare so well with the voters at Vinyl Surrender. From my top 10, Husker Du, Minor Threat, Bad Brains, and Mission of Burma (#1, 3, 5, and 8) don't have any representation at all on the Vinyl Surrender list. My #2 ("Love Will Tear Us Apart" from Joy Division) is #15 on the Vinyl Surrender list, which I believe gives it the highest combined ranking of any song on the two lists. My #4 (The Jam's "That's Entertainment") comes in at #124 on the other list, although The Jam makes the top 40 of both lists because "A Town Called Malice" is at #31 on the Vinyl Surrender list.
The Violent Femmes are in my top 10 and absent from Vinyl Surrender. R.E.M. and The The, part of my top 10, make the Vinyl Surrender list with different songs, other than those in my top 10. Skeleton Crew, far and away the most idiosyncratic choice in my top 10, is unsurprisingly absent from the Vinyl Surrender list.
I'm looking forward to doing this comparison with the other Vinyl Surrender lists another day. If you love music lists, this site is highly recommended.