The Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop music critics' poll was unveiled last week. As expected, Kayne West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy stomped the competition, garnering nearly twice the points as the No. 2 album, LCD Soundsystem's This Is Happening, resulting in the largest ass-kicking in the poll's 37-year history.
I suppose it should then come as no surprise that my own ballot was topped — at least in terms of point allotment; each voter can use 100 points (with a maximum of 30 for any one album) to disperse among their favorite 10 — by the same two albums. I suppose it's also no revelation that the aforementioned albums were among the most-played on both my turntable and iPod. Then again, the number of spins doesn't necessarily guarantee inclusion on my P&J ballot — Spoon's Transference missed my list despite pulling down the fourth-most “plays” on my iPod.
And despite the mathematical equations involved in crafting and compiling year-end lists (both in terms of being able to track iPod plays and in P&J's detailed point system), evaluating music obviously isn't a scientific endeavor. A dozen other albums could have easily found their way on my list based on my mindset on any given day. If there's a consistent thread running through my list it's the presence of creatively playful artists who offer distinctive rhythms and lyrical content (Kayne, LCD, The Roots, Big Boi) and/or the ability to evoke various moods (Deerhunter, Beach House, The National, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Liars). Then there's just plain old ambitious songcraft (Arcade Fire).
For those who remember my blog post at the time of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy's release, which questioned its almost across-the-board hyperbolic praise (a five-star review in Rolling Stone and a 10.0 rating from Pitchfork), what can I say — the thing is an endlessly fascinating sonic adventure that gets more addictive the more one is exposed to it. (Though I'm still not convinced it's as cohesive as The College Dropout or Late Registration, or as good as Kayne no doubt thinks it is. And it's certainly not twice as good as every other record released in 2010 — though, again, I'm sure Kanye thinks it is.)
Elsewhere, local natives The
National came in at No. 8 with High Violet — another
album that I liked quite a bit but that wasn't as consistently strong
was its predecessor(s) — and Cee Lo Green's "Fuck You" was voted the single of the year.