Listen up. I know you have an opinion. You’re really keen on expressing it, because you’re enthusiastic about music and movies and everything popular culture. There’s just one small thing that you need to keep in mind: nobody cares about your end of year list.*
It seems impossible, doesn’t it? You’ve spent the last twelve months submerging yourself in the scene, throwing every spare bit of bob toward the box office of your choice, devouring the arts because you are a loyal follower of the Greek muses, particularly Euterpe because she has that sweet retro Aulos. You’ve muttered, “Argo fuck yourself,” and laughed knowingly because you’re reciting this very clever phrase at people who haven’t possibly seen the Ben Affleck docudrama yet. You’ve got more special edition box sets of new releases than you do digital albums. Though you’ve enjoyed all that 2012 has to offer (and hate-watched or hate-listened to some of it, just to confirm your already existing biases), the greatest gift is telling everyone what’s good. Because you’d know, right?
My grandfather one gave me a very sage bit of advice. He said, “Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one, and they all stink.” (He might’ve said buttholes to preserve my virgin ears, but we all know what he really meant.) I’m an ex-journalist stranded in the realm of freelance reviewing (emphasis on free), so I understand the compulsion to slap together a list of really awesome stuff I’ve heard, seen, or read this year. I really adore taking people’s interests and recommending something new to them based on what I already know. Half the time I am riffing on what I know about their tastes, but sometimes I Just like to throw in some dark horse that I genuinely love and want to see succeed.
Therein lies the problem with an end of year list: it’s only for your personal benefit. Most individuals realize that when they are just ranting off into the blogosphere or their social media outlet of choice, but what’s up with the media? The same albums, the same movies, the same books just appear consistently, and I’m sorry, but a bunch of middle class white people can’t possibly be as infatuated with the diverse list of releases that they claim because it’s just a little bit suspicious that there is only one R&B album that appears consistently with no other representation from the genre. Not to name names, but you probably get what I mean if you’ve read, well, any fucking end of year list from any magazine this year. If you’re not saying something about yourself or your audience with your list, then what’s the point of even putting it together? It should be about the love of music, not about whether anybody’s heard of a single artist on your list. (Caveat: don’t just be a hipster and name your friend’s bands because you know nobody’s heard of them and you think that in ten years, they might just sell a hundred records.) Spoiler alert, Nicki Minaj doesn’t really need you to encourage others to sell her records. Why not break the news that there are other people out there who are actually talented and working hard?
A lot of really awesome, huge bands that I adore released albums this year. They don’t need my exposure, and they have publicity campaigns for this sort of thing. So in 2013, you should get off your ass and listen to (in alphabetical order) Bronagh Gallagher, Building Pictures, David Ford, Duke Special, Foy Vance, The Guggenheim Grotto, John Smith, Maria Doyle Kennedy, A Plastic Rose, Rosi Golan, and The Windsor Player. None’s a huge name, and not all of them have put out new music this year. But fuck it, it’s the end of the year, and I want to see them have a good 2013. Should you value my opinion? I don’t know. Why don’t you give things a listen and figure it out for yourself?
*Read with an open mind rather than getting automatically defensive about what I’m suggesting. Also realize that I do understand the irony of all of this. As you were.