What’s the point of half-year lists?

I don’t mind lists. As you may recall, I posted one a few weeks back. I’m drawn to them like my cat is to Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer wrappers. I’m always intrigued to see what’s included on them, and to add my two pennies if given the chance. What’s surprised me is that lately, half-year top 10/15/25 lists for albums of 2011 so far have been cropping up all over the shop. And I’m sick of it.
What’s the point?
Many of the lists I’ve viewed tend to take a look at what’s hot in America right now and while I can’t disagree a number of those albums are shit hot, my more open approach to music means I see things quite differently in some instances, as I’m sure many of you reading this to. Many of them lord the epic album, you know, the one that plumbs emotional depths, reaches astral heights and has some stunning twenty minute shape shifting song that drops your jaw.
That’s all well and good, but what for the records that just bolt out the gate and collide with you in such a way it smears your insides all over the back wall? I get the feeling that somewhere along the way, we lost our desire for the kick ass album. If an album can make me feel like I’ve just taken a swift beating from Manny Pacquiao, its succeeding in its job. A twenty, thirty, even forty minute album can be every bit the success the 79:59 monster can be. Most of these lists don’t appear to give that consideration.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a list constructed too. But I’m not going to publish it until the end of the year. It basically flips, flops, switches etc. many, many times over the course of the year because my mind is so active at this there’ll be times when it might be the best thing since sliced bread, and others where I’m thinking I was a bit hasty with that praise. I’m not naming any bands because that would just defeat the point of this post – but there are one or two, I’ll admit.
There’s still many a damn good album to come out yet and I intend to keep an open mind. I just get the feeling that, inevitably, you’ll draw the overall impression that you’re constantly comparing every record from here on in to that number one on your list. It would just feel slightly skewed to do so.
The English Premier League isn’t decided after 19 games. We don’t decide who’s won the 100 metre sprint after 50 meters, and you can’t decide how good a film is if you’ve only watched the first half. All slightly different in comparison to top ten lists, but the point here is the same – half-year lists are pointless. Let’s enjoy the rest of 2011’s offerings. Cheers!
Peter Clegg

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