The end of year lists that defined end of year list writing in 2015
It’s that time of year again. The nights are drawing in, conventional drinking hours are forgotten and every band has figured out a way to charge £30 for a Christmas jumper. This means it’s also time to delve deep into the obscure world of blogs, Soundcloud and Bandcamp to write your perfect albums of the year list. With sales falling due to streaming and piracy, it’s actually true that in 2015 albums are only recorded to keep the multi-billion dollar music blogging industry going, which makes album of the year lists more important to the economy than ever.
With that in mind I’ve trawled the internet to give you the end of year lists that defined of end of year list writing in 2015; the very best white twenty something soy-latte and vaping opinions Shoreditch has to offer.
5. Adele: Adele’s end of year list was Adele, money, David Cameron, money and The Telegraph. It was marginally more artistically adventurous than whatever her album was called and it somehow managed to sell 1.3 million copies in its first week, but it makes number five on our worst end of year lists of the year list because Adele is a Tory robot that will one day enslave us all.
4. Anyone who does more than just think ‘what albums did I like this year’: I did originally intend to find examples of this and link them but that is a) effort and b) a bit of a dick move when I think about it. But basically, if you’re writing an end of year list with a million obscure tabs open and listing albums you haven’t listened to then you’re a dick. If you don’t consider an album you enjoyed because Pitchfork did and “they’re so fake”, you’re a dick. If you switch an album you liked out for one of a different genre to show how open minded you are, you’re a dick. The only people who care about end of year lists, and pretty much all music journalism, are people who want to be music journalists, which means this whole thing turns into a “look how smart I am, look how much I know that you don’t” dick swinging contest. Don’t get your dick out, just write about music you like because it made you feel a thing.
3. This list: I’ve already realised this isn’t as funny as I thought it would be. I am part of the problem.
2. UEFA’s 2015 Team of the Year: The only real problem in this list should be getting all four of Messi, Ronaldo, Suarez and Neymar in without resorting to some Garth Crook’s formation madness, yet UEFA have still managed to majorly fuck their shortlist up. How have Joe Hart and Denys Boyko been picked over David de Gea? In what world is David Luiz a stronger centre-back than Vincent Kompany? Can anyone seriously argue Kyrchowiak or Calhanoglu are better in the midfield pivot than Busquets? Madness.
1. The Telegraph: Does The Telegraph have an end of year list? I don’t know because that would mean reading The Telegraph. However, I think we all know that if The Telegraph did do an end of year list then The Telegraph would ideally want it to be topped by whatever noise Adele, Gary Barlow and George Osbourne having a threesome makes. And for that image alone The Telegraph is the worst end of year list of the year, regardless of whether or not it actually has one.
5. This Clickhole from November 2014: Okay, this isn’t a list about music in 2015, nor is it about music or even from 2015, but if you’ve made it this far without thinking “fuck this guy” then you can’t be too surprised. This is a list though, and it’s a list that tells you more about the people that are really into writing end of year lists than a real end of year list ever could.
4. The Quietus: Is this a serious entry? I think it might be! The Quietus’ end of year list isn’t an end of year list. I mean they might write one in a bit, but as of yet their main end of year review is a feature by Karl Smith that argues Carly Rae Jepsen’s EMOTION is the best album of the year, which it very well might be. The article itself is a passionate discussion of the album that uses the work of Philip Rothko, Olafur Eliason and John Cage to evaluate unashamedly sugary pop music. I like this ambition in music writing (make it interesting rather than cool) and I like that pop music wasn’t deemed to frivolous for it. Plus it’s self-aware and contains this gem of a sentence; “As with the briefcase in Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, it should be clear to anyone in the business of pop culture production that more enjoyment is derived from pasting your own narrative, however shonky or badly fitting it is – I, for one, once convinced myself a glassJAw song was about the holy grail as a result of reading the DaVinci Code – on to something more archetypal.”
3. Rick Sanchez: Rick and Morty is arguably the best thing on Television and regularly uses amazing music. Showrunners Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon draw upon little known talents like Chaos Chaos, massive bangers from DMX (because why the fuck not), and write their own songs to ensure you get lovely noises to partner crippling sadness. This, coupled with the nihilistic darkness of Rick’s character, leaves me in no doubt that he would make an excellent young Charlie Brooker type cultural commentator and that if he were to write an end of year list, which he wouldn’t because they’re pretty stupid, it would be one of the best end of year lists of the year.
2. Noisey: It’s another non-fictional entry! I know, I'm as surprised as you are! Noisey did their end of year list as a week of extended features about Future, Beach Slang, Iron Maiden, Kendrick Lamar and Speedy Ortiz. This made their list an actual enlightening read from a few writers discussing one artist they were passionate about, rather than one person trying to prove how vast their tastes are. They also did a far funnier taking the piss out of end of year lists feature than this one and I would quite like to write for them in the future (so I’d rather they didn’t hate me).
1. The abstract concepts of guilt and shame: All music writers are driven by these concepts. Guilt at not really knowing anything about music and using words like ‘atmosphere’ instead. Shame because we were never good enough to make it as an actual musician. Guilt because we’ve convinced people this is a real job that we want to be paid to do. Shame because we contribute nothing to society. Without the abstract concepts of guilt and shame, coupled with an unfounded sense of self-importance, end of year lists would not be possible.
p.s. my actual list, in no particular order, is probably:
I Don’t Like Shit I Don’t Go Outside – Earl Sweatshirt (the most accurate and honest sonic depiction of depression I think I’ve ever heard. Just beats out Cherry Bomb by Tyler)
To Pimp a Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar (ambitious, brilliant and so culturally relevant)
EMOTION – Carly Rae Jepsen (such a great pop album, you're lying if you don't like I Really Like You)
Summertime ‘06 – Vince Staples (norfside, long beach, norfside, long beach)
The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us – Beach Slang (I will always love over the top lyrics and guitars that sound like Japandroids)
If you’d like we can chat about this list over a beer in the pub. Then we can talk about what the best 'lazy but efffortlessly brilliant' Premiership XI of all time would be or whether your bottom half could beat your top half in a fight if you were cut in half. Silly lists and stupid debates are fun; don’t ruin them by being a pretentious dickbag.