Rolling Stone released their 50 Best Albums of the Year list today, and I couldn’t be happier to see that disgraced dinosaur of a publication drag its hypocrisy riddled corpse into the light to attempt to convince people that the robots that work there somehow managed to actually listen to music when they weren’t too busy trying to convince me that Taylor Swift is “Punk” and shucking Christmas Gift Lists as if they were Maxim.
I used to like Rolling Stone Magazine; it was the magazine that I wanted to work for. Because it seemed like they managed to cover cool things, interviewed cool people, and in doing that they filled me with a desire to cover music for a living. I wanted to write about all of the artists I loved, and have one of those pieces in the magazine that filled whole pages with text. Then that all went away, because the historic magazine I idolized changed from a towering monolith of aspiration into a pile of quivering horseshit, that if you held your ear close to it you would be able to faintly hear the sounds of top-40 radio.
Things got worse when the interview style I knew and love went completely to the fucking dogs. Soon, all of the publication space was taken up by interviews with people who nobody really every wanted to see interviewed, and all of their answers were shallow bullshit that imbued a feeling in me of, “If I was locked in an elevator with this person, I would gnaw off half of their face before the service technicians arrived.” A good publication would call these people out on their bullshit, but not Rolling Stone Magazine, not anymore. The Rolling Stone Magazine Interview Guide these days, instead of suggesting their writers to “Ask Hard Hitting Questions” reminds them to instead, “Not Orphan the Balls.”
But I digress; because what I’m really here to talk about is this list of 50 Best Albums of the Year, and why it is a complete abomination. It’s just another nail in the coffin of the magazine that I loved. To be honest, I still check the RS website every single day, not because I want to pour the rest of my hot coffee into my eyes, or jam a pen into my face screaming because I’ve just found out that Motley Crue now has a country tribute album, but because the potential is still there, and although mighty might have fallen, there is still a chance that they could get back up.
However, this is not the place, nor the way to start.
The Fucking Dumb False List that Rolling Stone Unleashed Upon the Earth to Tell Everyone Who Would Still Listen that Their Opinion on Music is Dead.
1. U2 – Songs of Innocence
2. Bruce Springsteen – High Hopes
3. The Black Keys – Turn Blue
4. St. Vincent – St. Vincent
5. Miranda Lambert – Platinum
6. Charlie XCX – SUCKER
7. Lana Del Ray – Ultraviolence
8. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2
9. Mac DeMarco – Salad Days
10. Taylor Swift – 1989
11. Flying Lotus – “You’re Dead”
12. Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways
13. Ought – “More Than Any Other Day”
14. Weezer – “Everything Will Be Allright in the End”
15. Against Me – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
16. FKA Twigs – “LP1”
17. Jenny Lewis – The Voyager”
18. Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
19. Jackson Browne – Standing in the Breach
20. Sharon Van Etten – Are We There
21. Eric Church – The Outsiders
22. Skrillex – Recess
23. War on Drugs – Lost in a Dream
24. Leonard Coen – Popular Problems
25. YG – My Krazy Life
26. Tom Petty and the Heartbreaks – Hypnotic Eye
27. Alt-J – This is All Yours
28. Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal
29. Spoon – They Want my Soul
30. Thom Yorke – Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes
31. Young Thug and Bloody Jay – Black Portland
32. Damon Albran – Everyday Robots
33. The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger – Midnight Sun
34. Prince – Art Official Age
35. Lenny Kravitz – Strut
36. Alvvays – Alvvays
37. Benjamin Booker – Benjamin Booker
38. Hurray for the Riff Raff – Small Town Heroes
39. Caribou – Our Love
40. Jack White – Lazaretto
41. Aphex Twin – Syro
42. Perfume Genius – Too Bright
43. Future – Honest
44. Interpol – El Pintor
45. EMA – The Future’s Void
46. Tweedy – Sukieriae
47. Gary Clark Jr. – Gary Clark Jr. Live
48. Coldplay – Ghost Stories
49. Tinariwen – Emmaar
50. Yob – Clearing the Path to Ascend
As I went through the list this morning and screamed at my poor suffering roommates about how, “That fucking magazine has done it again and just fucked up my entire life with their bullshit,” I was informed by one of them that the list wasn’t really that important, and that I was making too big of a deal out of it. I immediately blacked out, as my brain tried to give all 61,000 words of my response to those statements at once. When I came too, my roommates suggested that I go through the list, a re-arrange it to my specifications, because then I might be a happier person and not want to vomit blood for the rest of the day. There were also comments about me, “probably not having heard more than a maximum of half of the albums on the list anyway.”
That is true, and it is also true that if given a personal choice of albums of the year, I would just pick the five Led Zeppelin re-issues that came out, and be done with it. Yes, I am, “That Guy,” and I give no apologies ever for whooping with fucking joy when Jimmy Page comes down from whatever fucked up Doom Mountain Cottage he lives in to re-master the best albums of all time, all while he prays that everyone forgot about that time he abducted a 13 year old girl and took her on tour (as if we didn’t know that Jimmy, that’s what all the songs you re-mastered are about.) That is always going to be the highlight of my year. However, that is not how lists like this work, so Rolling Stone has me there.
These are the albums on the list that I own and have listened to:
#1 – U2 – Songs of Innocence (But don’t we all, thanks U2. You fucks.)
#3 – The Black Keys – Turn Blue
#7 – Lana Del Ray – Ultraviolence
#15 – Against Me – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
#40 – Jack White – Lazaretto
#47 – Gary Clark Jr. – Gary Clark Jr.
So I own 12% of the albums on the list. 6 out of 50; which reminds me of most of my high school test scores. That is a paltry, but those are the albums that I own. I have heard various songs from many of the other records on the list. However, to dismantle it, I must know it. Therefore, I tasked myself to listen to all 50 and re-order them in a way that didn’t want to make me want to firebomb an orphanage. My roommates, who were responsible for the project, informed me that I could add no new albums to the list, and that I was confined to the albums that Rolling Stone had picked. My task was then to make Rolling Stone’s 50 Best Albums of 2014 list look like something picked by someone who was not:
A) 10,000 Years Old
B) So out of touch that they still think U2 is somehow relevant
C) An asshole
So, I devised a series of rules, and set off to waste an entire day dismantling this abomination, like a surgeon taking the found remains of a super model that had been stitched together wrong and making her back into Kate Upton.
1) I have to use the same albums on the list. No substitutions.
2) The albums are ranked by quality, originality, and just sheer good fucking delicious music level. The number one album is the best, and the fiftieth album is the worst. It is not a collection of albums, but a competition between them.
3) I have to listen to all of the albums. No matter how much I fucking hate Taylor Swift.
– As you might have gathered from my Led Zeppelin statement above, I am not so savvy in genres that don’t involve Robert Plant. However, I will not railroad certain albums because I maybe don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge or a super-fan-like level of appreciation for them. Trip-hop maybe the coolest thing to ever happen, but I, as a 26-year- old white male who spends most of his time listening to The Clash and other ancient bands your dad likes, might not have the correct genre knowledge to full appreciate what could be the greatest Trip Hop Album ever released. I apologize for this, and will try my best to be completely open about where my knowledge is non-existent.
– I’m probably not going to listen to every single song on every single album. Not because I have shit to do in my life, because I don’t, but because most albums are loaded with filler. Not every song is going to be a fucking knockout single or a fan-favourite deep cut. That’s fine; it just means that I’m going to skim through some of these. If I somehow fuck up and miss the “best song to ever be played” by doing this to an album you love, please let me know so I can tell you you’re wrong without having any facts to back it up.