Weird: Not Even the Best Song on a Perfect Album Was The Best Song of the Year

12/14/2010 4:47 PM |


This morning, to the surprise of quite a few folks, Pitchfork named Ariel Pink’s “Round and Round” the best song of the year. It’s a hell of a track, and our own Jeff Klingman already singled it out as the centerpiece of Pink’s very good Before Today album, so it feels silly complaining about it too much. It’s a strange selection, though, given what’s gone on over at the site in recent weeks, and what’s likely to go on there toward the end of this week, when it comes time to name the Album of the Year.

If it seems like a foregone conclusion that Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy will take the top spot come Friday, well, that’s because it probably will. Remember, they gave the album a perfect 10.0, which everyone now, thankfully, seems to agree it obviously did not deserve. As I’ve said before, it’s a very, very good, probably even great album that is very clearly flawed, and the argument that those flaws are what make it so great is mostly just silly, especially in the context of an larger argument about whether it’s a perfect album. Flaws are flaws, as they say. Likewise, great tracks are great tracks, and Twisted Fantasy has quite a few of them, chief among them being “Power” and “Runaway,” which came in at numbers six and two, respectively, on Pitchfork’s song list.

What’s surprising about this is the degree to which Pitchfork has tried to flip the traditional script here. As much as Kanye and his supporters have tried to convince us otherwise, hip-hop is still very much a singles-based genre. And as much as Pitchfork is trying to dispel the notion by choosing “Round and Round” as the best song of the year, indie-rock is still very much an album-based genre. Twisted Fantasy is a chore to listen to in its entirety, and Before Today works best as a whole. It would be an important shift if it really were suddenly the other way around, but it’s just not.

Also, just for kicks, based on what we learned from the songs list, want to guess the top five albums? Sure, let’s go with:

5. LCD Soundsystem — This Is Happening
4. Big Boi — Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
3. Deerhunter — Halcyon Digest
2. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti — Before Today
1. Kanye West — My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

2 Comment

  • Spot on, Mike. It’s all a bit strange!

    As for the top albums I’m picking it’ll tumble like this…

    5. Janelle Monae
    4. Ariel Pink
    3. Big Boi
    2. LCD
    1. Kanye

  • While it seems a little silly to me to treat this as inconsistency before their album list comes out, and given that of course there have been many albums that an individual reviewer has given a 10.0 without it becoming (a.) album of the year or (b.) bearer of single of the year… I will say that the Big Boi record is a perfect example of what you’re talking about. It has its moments, but I cannot for the life of me figure out why anyone would put it in their top five albums of the year. It’s overlong and uneven and a lot of it sounds pretty familiar if you’ve been even casually listening to Outkast over the years. (In fact, even as a group of singles, eh, nothing on it is as great as “Morris Brown.”)