Every year, during the first third of it or thereabouts, I hear a stunning piece of work that makes me say “this is the first real contender for Album of the Year.” Of course, with the plethora of albums released every year, what this means in practice is “here, wear this target on your back for the next nine to eleven months.” Most years, that’s how it plays out; I’ve been doing this for forty years now, and in all that time, three albums I started out saying that about actually ended up Album of the Year. The first appeared in February 1987; to this day, King Diamond’s Abigail remains, for me, the greatest concept album ever released. The second was Merzbow’s Ikebukuro Dada, which climbed atop the mountain in March of 2002 and was never topped. The third? Read on.
Category Archives: Year-End-Lists
It may be the third time in the past five years I’ve said it, but it’s been true every time: this has been the best year for music since I started keeping track. 2016 was the third year this decade, following 2012 and 2014, where not only did I have multiple Album of the Year contenders right down to the wire (and as a side note, this is the first year where the album that ended up being Album of the Year was not one of the original contenders when I made the first draft of my list*), but I ended up having to tweak things because there was so damn much good music that it seemed leaving stuff out would be a crime against humanity. As a result, this year, for the first time in the history of my Album of the Year lists, the Honorable Mention section has been expended to twenty-five. Because no less than thirty-five albums this year deserve mention as being impeccable avatars of their respective genres.
And here’s something that has been gradually coming, but really exploded into its own this year: this is a really wide-ranging list. I’ve spent a lot of time over the past six or seven years really trying to get out of my cocoon and be aggressive about listening to stuff outside my comfort zone, to become more inclusive in my enjoyment of music. The way I was when I put out that first top-ten list all the way back in 1979. And there’s no denying that my lists have gotten more diverse, but man, this year. There’s stuff from damn near every corner of the musical spectrum represented, and it’s all stellar.
You know how this goes. The book and movie lists it’s just what I saw/what I read during the year, with no thought of when it was actually released. But for music, it’s limited to what was released in 2014. So it’s reasonably up to date! Who’d’a thunk? In any case, without further ado…
Well, I usually wait until the new year to do the lists, but the chances I’m going to finish another book in the next week are vanishingly small, I’m not going to be grabbing any new music, and I’ve been focusing on the bottom part of my Netflix queue, so I don’t see these lists changing between now and January 1. And so, without further ado…
The rules for the movie lists are the same as the rules for the book list, to wit: this is things I saw for the first time this year, not movies released this year. While the spreadsheet tells me that I have actually seen eighteen movies released in 2013 this year (I believe that may be a record, or if not, that’s the first time I’ve seen more than ten during their year of release since at least the nineties), there are only four I would even consider for a top ten list. (One of those still does not have a rating listed, because I am still of two minds about it.)
And so, the following:
You know the drill by now, right? No matter how wasted you are, if you stumble upon one of these on Netflix, whatever you do, for the love of celluloid, do not click play: