Friday, August 31, 2012

Pitchfork's People's List - Are They Embarrassed About All That Radiohead?

Pitchfork, one of my favorite music review sites, recently endeavored to create a "people's list" based on a limited-time-only ballot that I somehow missed.  It's a list of the best albums over the life of the Pitchfork site through last year (1996-2011).  I like track lists better than album lists, but I'm still a suck for a reader poll of any variety.  The list is now a little hard to find on the Pitchfork website, so I'm wondering if they weren't happy about how the People reflected on their hipster image.

Hidden though they may be now, the people's votes are in, and the people luuuuuuuuuuuuuv Radiohead.  Radiohead shows up 4 times in the top 20, including both the #1 and #2 slots.  I really don't know quite what to make of that.  I think some of it is that the past 15 years really hasn't been a very good period for the album as an art form and Radiohead really is an album rock band.  I'd be curious if there were a Peoples List of tracks if Radiohead would come even close to dominating the top 100 tracks the way they dominate the top 20 albums.

The people do not, as it turns out, love alt-country.  In the top 200, there is no Neko Case, no Old 97s, no Son Volt, and no Waco Brothers.  Ryan Adams sneaks in, and I have to say the People really did pick the right Ryan Adams record.  The people also like Wilco, but they like Yankee Foxtrot Hotel a lot better than Summerteeth, and I can't agree with the People about that.  Maybe I'm just hatin' on the People who caught on late, even though Husker Du preaches against that kind of behavior, but I never understood what was so great about Yankee Foxtrot Hotel, apart from Warner Bros effectively having to pay for the record twice.  No Neko Case though - really???  Is it just Paste folks who like Neko and not Pitchfork folks?

There's also no Sloan and no Luna.  I think both made their best records in the late 90s, but I know some others think they made their best records before the Pitchfork 1996 cutoff.  Maybe neither band is quite right for the Pitchfork crowd.  I really would think that the Beta Band would be a Pitchfork band though, and they're nowhere to be found on this list.  I wonder if The Three EPs was deemed ineligible on account of being three EPs on one CD.  I still would have included a later Beta Band record, but The Three EPs is the obvious missing choice.  Also, no Mountain Goats?  I hadn't realized how much on the outskirts of the Pitchfork readership I was.  Neko Case, Beta Band, and Mountain Goats are probably the 3 most surprising omissions to me, in that order.

There's still lots of good stuff on this list.  I remain a bit surprised by the enduring popularity of Arcade Fire's "Funeral", and I remain pleasantly surprised by the enduring popularity of Neutral Milk Hotel's "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea".  I thought TV On the Radio would come in higher than #81, but I can't complain about them having 3 records in the top 200.  Similarly, Yo La Tengo's a little further down than I expected, but they do at least show up twice.

Calexico isn't on the top 200, but if you scroll down to the bottom and stratify by age, you can find them on the distinction index for the 51+ year olds and the 40-somethings.  Uh oh.  It's almost 10 O'clock.  Must be time for us old folk Calexico-likers to hit the sack.

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