Back when I was a music journalist, I used to put painstaking care into narrowing down year-end lists, agonizing over the order, wondering whether the albums I chose were destined to be long-lived or were just reflective of their moment, and how that should affect their placement in a list that was both about the music and about the year.
Now that my approach to music has shifted from critic to advocate, I feel like a lot of that effort was misplaced. Sure, it’s a little bit interesting to talk about what music will last and what won’t, but also, music isn’t something that lends itself to ranking. It isn’t objective. How you receive it is based on so many things outside of the music itself, and assigning metrics or rankings to that reflects as much about the critic as the writer.
I’ve been much happier, then, putting together these more sprawling lists, where the selection criteria is only whether the music resonated with me this year, and the sorting is strictly alphabetical, no hierarchy implied. For me, it’s nice to listen back to these songs and remember the moments and moods they conjure up.Continue reading