Is 2010 the most blog-friendly music year ever?

Entertainment Column
Written by Nathan Mattise

Where the two circles meet in the Venn diagram of music lovers and bloggers, the inevitable debate of best albums of the year  arises.

I’m as guilty as anyone of indulging in this pleasure.  A passion for music means sampling plenty and sharing your favorites while a passion for blogging means making an opinion and presenting it to the world. Year-end music lists are a natural outlet for the intersection of these.

This year however, the millions of folks who engage in this subculture have their work cut out for them.  If the online year-end music list is a distinctly 2000s trend,  2010 threatens to be the most insanely loaded (and therefore insanely difficult) year-end list conversation we’ve ever seen.  Consider the following acts that have  released or are reportedly releasing albums this year found through just three different websites:

The Music Media Giants:

Diddy, Gorillaz, The Strokes, Radiohead, Arcade Fire, MGMT, Vampire Weekend, R.E.M., OutKast, David Byrne (w/ Fatboy Slim), Lil’ Wayne, The White Stripes, Coldplay, Broken Social Scene; Erykah Badu

The Consistently Solid Blog Darlings:

The National, New Pornographers, Spoon, Band of Horses, Of Montreal, Interpol, LCD Soundsystem, Ben Kweller, Rufus Wainwright, OK Go, Editors, Cold War Kids, She & Him, Goldfrapp, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Yeasayer, Belle & Sebastian

The Newest Kids On The Block:

Lady Gaga, Broken Bells, Joanna Newsom, Sleigh Bells, Phantogram, Drake, Charlotte Gainsbourg & Beck, The Morning Benders

Nate’s Crushes:

Tokyo Police Club, Ted Leo + The Pharmacists, Ra Ra Riot

All of those bands have expected releases in 2010. Can you come up with 10 acts you’d want to add to that (YYY, Bloc Party, CYHSY, Death Cab for Cutie, Kanye, Deerhunter, Animal Collective, The Flaming Lips…?)?  This list is far from conclusive as well – none of the unexpected gems or newcomers are accounted for, no transcendent pop albums are listed, I’m overlooking major cover entities from Peter Gabriel and The Bird and The Bee and there’s certainly a lack of underground rap as well.

That is one long list of names you’d read on SPIN, BrooklynVegan, Stereogum, Pitchfork, Paste and wherever you want to go for your music fix.  It’s not just daunting in terms of quantity of noteworthy releases either. Without creating a laundry list of research, consider the critical quality of these artists on their recent albums (taking two acts from each category…):

The Music Media Giants:

Gorillaz – 2005’s Demon Days entered both the UK and US Billboard Charts at in the Top 10 (No. 1 in the UK). It finished as a Top 10 album for the year in SPIN and Metacritic.  NME included it in its decade Top 100 list.

Radiohead – 2007’s In Rainbows entered both the UK and US Billboard Charts at No. 1 despite the internet only self-release. It was Billboard’s top album of the year and it was Top 5 in year-end lists from NME, The A.V. Club, Pitchfork (6th overall for SPIN and Rolling Stone). The album totaled nine Grammy nominations as well.

Notable acts not flushed out through research in this tier mind you – MGMT, The Strokes, Lil’ Wayne, David Byrne, Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend, OutKast, The White Stripes.

The Consistently Solid Blog Darlings:

The National – 2007’s Boxer was the top album of the year according to Paste and while it made Pitchfork’s Top 20. Rolling Stone had “Mistaken For Strangers” in their top 100 songs for 2007. The album appears on best of the decade lists from both Pitchfork and Paste as well.

LCD Soundsystem – 2007’s Sound of Silver went nuts in the critical realm. It features the song “All My Friends” which was Pitchfork’s 2nd best song of the decade and a Top 5 song for Time Magazine that year. The album as a whole was the second best of the year for Pitchfork while Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone both had it at No. 7 (EW also named it one of the 50 best albums of the last 25 years).

Critical acclaim for these bands warrants way higher recognition and regard than they currently receive.

The Newest Kids On The Block:

Lady Gaga – Were you alive in 2009?

Broken Bells – Heard of James Mercer (voice and arguably sound of The Shins) and Danger Mouse (producer behind Gnarls Barkley and The Grey Album)?

Nate’s Crushes:

Tokyo Police Club – I still standby the statement they had the best album of 2008 and not MGMT, Lil’ Wayne or Vampire Weekend.

Ra Ra Riot – My love for them is well-documented. Rolling Stone said they were one of the only bands shaping music in 2008.

You could spend all day spelling out the accolades from the acts 2010 plans to offer. I’m not sure if it’s the promise of a new decade, newer technology allowing for faster production, declining album sales meaning you need new material to tour with or just fluke luke. Whatever the case may be, make sure there’s plenty of room on your iPods and harddrives. 2010 is going to be a music year to remember (and one that’ll certainly be fun to argue about).


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