Friday 30 December 2016

Some Words About My Forthcoming Albums of 2016 List

Here we are, the last day of 2016 is almost upon us.

Every year I give a lot of thought to my end of year album list and over the years have read and digested a lot of other authors’ thoughts on creating theirs. Why give it so much thought? 


1. I’m a geek and love end of year lists. 

2. For me, someone’s end of year list is a statement of not only their taste, but their musical journey over the previous 12 months. It defines them. It’s important. It’s an insight into their world.

Previously, I’ve published end of year lists based on gut instinct, complex formula that have mathematically calculated my favourite, and even simply used the idea of which records I’ve listened to the most (and kept a tally all year of the records I played) suggesting that if it’s my most listened to, it must be my favourite. This suggestion created quite a bit of a debate amongst the other end of year list geeks out there.

Traditionally I’ve started publishing my list around mid-December, ending just before Christmas, posting 10-15 albums, with one post a day. 

This year I’m doing things differently. I’ve come to the conclusion (for the time being at least) that you really shouldn’t finalise an end of year list, no matter how you decide on your favourites, until at least the last day of the year. After all it’s not really taking into account a whole year of listening, is it?

So tomorrow I’ll be publishing my list, which will be modified (if appropriate) right up to the final moment I start publishing it. 

This year I’m featuring 25 albums in order of preference from lowest to highest. The order is a little bit arbitrary this time round. No formula or complex calculation was used. However, the ones near the top end of the list I prefer to those lower down, but the positions (especially lower down) could change from day to day. The top 5 I'd keep the same though. 25 is way more than I’ve ever done before, but this year, because of streaming (and in particular Spotify) I’ve listened to more albums than ever before, albeit most of them far less than I would have listened to an album in previous years. I’ve never been a fan of sole author blogs that publish their Top 50 or Top 100 albums. When I see such lists I’m always questioning how good their 97th favourite can actually be?  

So, 25 is my absolute limit, one posted on the hour, every hour, from midnight to midnight (in my country at least). This means that my favourite record of the year will be revealed at exactly as Big Ben chimes and we go into 2017. The posts aren't long in most cases, the aim was to keep them around 100-150 words. Some achieve that. Some go way over. Sorry about that.

If you can’t be bothered to read them all I’ll provide a summary list on New Year’s Day.

This year I’ve noticed an awful lot of the same records cropping up on many peoples end of year lists, be they sole author blogs like this one or bigger websites where the lists are formed by consensus or voting. You’ll find some of those records on my list as well. After all, there’s a reason why a lot of music lovers like a particular record – it’s probably pretty good. You’ll also no doubt think I’ve made some glaring omissions. Don’t criticise me for this – it might be I’ve not listened to that record you love, or it just didn’t do anything for me. That’s the beauty of taste, right? 

So, there’s no Frank Ocean on my list (listened twice and it bored the pants off me), Leonard Cohen (haven’t listened to it) or Nick Cave (listened once, it seemed pretty decent, but I never got around to listening to it properly, so I’m not putting it on the list), Mitski (it was ok, but I found her voice a little too atonal for my tastes and the songs somewhat dreary) or Beyonce (I would have streamed it but you know...Tidal exclusives are killing music). All these records have appeared on a multitude of critics end of year lists. But they aren't on mine.

However, this does mean there will (hopefully) be a few records that you won’t see on other people’s lists. I’m not being purposefully obscure with those choices – some are very mainstream sounding records, some aren’t – but wherever they have come from, they are simply albums that were released in 2016 and are...not 'the best' or 'the most essential listens', because that's for you to decide. They are however, my favourites.... ones I’ve enjoyed and connected with in 2016. I’m grateful that they define me.

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