Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Years end a lot earlier than they used to. End-of-year retrospectives are such a marketable hook for a story that every media outlet, from the major networks to your friend's Twitter feed, wants to stake its claim to importance by declaring what was best this past year, thus proclaiming the still-breathing year to be dead.
At the risk of congratulating myself too heartily, I will continue my campaign to resist this trend. There are 21 days left in 2008, and they all count. Sure, when the topic is best albums and songs released during the year, it's possible to look at release schedules and see there almost everything that's seeing a 2008 release is already out. Hell, Chinese Democracy even has seen the light of day--an event so unlikely that it did manage to delay itself until after this country had first elected an African-American president. This is unlike the news media's abhorrent choosing of the year's most compelling news stories when the year has several weeks to go, a practice that really bit every news organization in the ass in 2004, when the deadly Indian Ocean earthquake struck on December 26. The stakes are lower when it comes to music, which makes it all the more ridiculous that we rush to stick a fork in the year when there's still plenty of time left on the clock.
It still pains me a little to turn in my top 10 albums and singles of the year to The Village Voice's Pazz & Jop poll while the year is still living and breathing. Ballots are due Christmas Eve. I get it; it takes a long time to compile the votes and create compelling features that make sense of them. All credit where credit is due for the hard work they do. It's just a shame that these decisions have to finalized in the midst of December madness, when everyone's scrambling to finish holiday plans and purchases, when the airwaves are dominated by Christmas music (which I love, in a measured way), and when the year is still living and breathing.
Per custom, my picks will appear here about a month into the new year. They probably won't be as detailed as my 2004 or even 2006 summaries, but last year's quick line listing was an anomaly. A lot did go down this year, and I don't just mean electorally--although, let's face it, that has to figure in the analysis. There's a lot to say, and I'll be saying it. Until then, I'll be sneaking in listens to Captain Sensible's "One Christmas Catalogue" between spins of albums and songs in the running for my top tens; I'll finish the lists (from numbers 11 on) in January.
There's plenty of year left. Get out and enjoy it.