I voted in Pazz & Jop this year! As a former student of the old polls I took it pretty seriously, and in particular did my best to vote for actual singles, whatever that means anymore. (Sort of like Raymond Carver, I kept asking, “Are These Actual Singles?”) I was certain that “25 Bucks,” released as a single in April, would make a big splash in the singles poll, but was quite wrong.
Village Voice also published one of the comments I sent them, about Perfume Genius, and I immediately wanted to retract it, as I played it back in my head and worried that I’d misrepresented a personal definition of the word “powerful,” or that I might seem to be telling Mike Hadreas what kind of artist he should be or mocking the people who responded in a major way to Too Bright, etc., but looking back it’s not so bad.
Here’s another one I sent, unprinted, referencing an album I was happy to see ended up with a few votes (it might’ve been my #11), including from Das Racist superfan Xgau.
As usual rappers were the only musicians routinely criticized for not offering solutions to the problems they addressed and the ones they didn’t, in a year when even Kool A.D., known for associative wordplay and prone to confessing that he “ain’t got shit to say,” had a moment on his excellent Word O.K., when he sees people starving on the street, asks, “What can one man do?” and answers, “I don’t know, probably a lot,” that was already 50% closer to a solution, to food in someone’s stomach, than anything I heard outside of rap music.
Right? But Craig Jenkins’s protest playlist probably got the point across better.
The heading for the poll’s main site refers to it as “The Last Word on the Year in Music.” It’s also the first word, obviously, as no other group waited long enough to include Black Messiah (by D'Angelo & THE VANGUARD), which was released 11 days before voting closed and got the top spot (Oscar voters really have no excuse when it comes to late releases).
I like to see such evidence of responsive (opposite of responsible: the album is undeniable) consensus, but even more than that it’s the breadth of the poll that reinforces why music writing, above all other arts writing, continues to appeal to me. Once again, a list of nearly 2,000 albums only begins to suggest the meaningful interactions a person could’ve had with music last year. That’s appropriate, and amazing. Often I feel like any movie’s context has settled long before I’ve had a chance to see it, but it’s very easy to be the only person writing about an album.
Thus, in what I hope to make an annual tradition, a list of albums I enjoyed last year that received no votes in the poll. I’m not suggesting we, or anyone, failed, quite the opposite actually.
- Sleeping Bag, Deep Sleep
- The Fresh & Onlys, House of Spirits
- La Sera, Hour of the Dawn
- Maximo Park, Too Much Information
- Death Vessel, Island Intervals
- Busdriver, Perfect Hair
- Mykki Blanco, Gay Dog Food
- Martin Carr, The Breaks
- She Sir, Go Guitars
- Should, The Great Pretend
- Busman’s Holiday, A Long Goodbye
- Slowness, How to Keep from Falling Off a Mountain
- Tink, Winter’s Diary 2
- The Hidden Cameras, Age
- Jeremy Jay, Abandoned Apartments
- PS I Love You, For Those Who Stay
- School of Language, Old Fears
- De La Soul, Smell the DA.I.S.Y.
- The Primitives, Spin-O-Rama
- Ex Cops, Daggers
- Terry Malts, Insides EP
- The Mary Onettes, Portico: EP
- Swet Shop Boys, Swet Shop EP