Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Site vs. Site vs. Graham's Swirling Brain

So now I wasn't going to post about the Pitchfork 500-Song list, largely because well, geez. I've found the site's resources useful over the years, especially in the last few as there's been more on-site mp3s and video (allowing the reader to decide for themselves the merits of a particular track or video) and I've gotten into some good bands via the 'fork.
But when one the arguably most influential music publications of our time puts out it's Best of the 00s lists and a lot if it is, well, confounding, I sort of shake my head. Now tastes are tastes and theirs aren't mine, but there were a few things that bugged me about the list beyond a "Oh, dude, I TOTALLY don't agree with that, laaame" way.

I was talking with Aaron about it recently, and he sort of agreed.

Now, enter site # 2. Buddyhead is a site I wrote for a few times about a year and a half ago and stopped for a few reasons, mainly previously-mentioned reasons about how after a while, music-writing bums me out. Also because Buddyhead's dude-slang approach to music writing can be good for calling bullshit, but as an overall style-guide, it hurts my brain just as much as the 'forkians who can't write looking up 5-syllable synonyms for "pretty" to describe the Best New Music.

but sometimes, you answer a fool according to his folly and sometimes, you just call bullshit.

The article is long, and has a few eye-rolling moments, but it gets at some of the things that bug me not just about the list, but about 'fork's narcissism; its consistent priveleging of groups or artists that the site was instrumental in breaking, the complete lack of perspective, the song-list probably took a while to compile, meaning you have artists and songs on the list (as high as like, no. 8) that haven't existed for more than three months, the near-complete lack of any country music on the list, the complete lack of any music that responded to the political situations in the world and what seems like a total lack of depth or discretion in dealing with hip hop and r & b.

a few gems from the buddyhead article, in case you didn't feel like reading the whole thing:

Of course, Schreiber’s site is his own, and he can pick the hits any way he pleases (and he’ll tell you when you’ve had enough LCD Soundsystem). . . the nerds might have retained a little dignity had they allowed the 2000s to actually, you know, finish, before revising its musical legacy into the soundtrack of a rich, white kid’s gay bar cocaine-binge. A little distance, perhaps even six months, might have given them better perspective.

Because we still remember the 2000s.

And Vampire Weekend is not better than Pulp.

About 499, I’d say.

For instance, ask yourself this for a moment: just how many Eminem singles were better, or more historically significant, than one of Johnny Cash’s last?

Could the answer truly be all of them?

Rankings mean something. “Best of” lists are explicit judgments about both aesthetic value and historical context, and Pitchfork seems to have disregarded both.

there's more, that's just from the beginning, but it's a pretty good read, if for nothing else, the rapper-beef vibe of it. While I wouldn't say Buddyhead has completely "put them in their place," there's a good lot there that's hard to dismiss.

I mean, seriously, Kelly Clarkson?


Jake Tucker said...

that list was ridiculous, even for what it was. I will no longer go to pitchfork, or at least I won't be reading anything from them.

Howard said...

I have long thought most of the writers on Pitchfork need to be slapped with injunctions keeping them away from word processors. That is all.

graham said...

I've found the best way to utilize the site is to find descriptions of bands that sound like I'd like them-- then just go to the bands myspace. if you pay attention to the ratings at all I tend to find I enjoy the 6.5-8s more consistently than the 9s and 10s.

and a lot of those guys think they can write, but can't, which annoys. and yeah, that list was ridic.