The Village Voice‘s 37th Annual Pazz & Jop Critics Poll came out today, and while, yes, there are big old lists of albums (Animal Collective!) and singles (Jay-Z! And Animal Collective!), they’re pretty much just like all the lists you got sick of reading about a month ago. The real draw here is, as usual, the suite of essays published along with all that list-candy. This year, we get Music Editor Rob Harvilla on Phoenix’s earth-shattering, life-affirming refusal to engage with reality, former Idolator editor Maura Johnston on the tyranny of “music- racism” (which isn’t at all what you think it is), Clover Hope on the First Ladies of Pop Music in ’09, Sean Fennessey on the mass appeal of “Empire State of Mind,” Zach Baron on Michael Jackson’s death, and plenty more, including former Voice music editor Chuck Eddy on how stupid young people are and how shitty indie rock is.
He makes takes some real steps toward explaining why the lists are skewing younger and why they look so much like those published by Pitchfork: the growing commercial viability of indie rock, the death of criticism in daily newspapers and the growing presence of young, web-only writers as voters in the poll, and the temptation to sneak a peek at other year-end lists, which are coming out earlier and earlier. He’s on point with all of it, especially the bit about bandwagon-jumping when it comes time for list-making–we’d all be much better off if more people felt comfortable going out on a limb once in a while. But what doesn’t sit quite as well with me is this notion that the relatively poor performance of insanely boring albums by Bruce Springsteen and Levon Helm is anything less than progress.
Worth reading, though, all of it.