… and so as I do with all Top-whatever lists, I record my general disagreement, complain about the myopic nature of the list, rail against the hit-driven nature of these things … and then get around to reading the list! So I recommend you do the same by heading over to the NPR list – then coming back here to comment.
Read on for a few thoughts on the list!
NPR’s criteria are as follows:
These are the game-changers: records that signaled some sort of shift in the way music is made or sounds, or ones that were especially influential or historically significant.
Then they have the recordings listed alphabetically, with the recording, a feature song, and an explanation below. In the second grouping they start off with Kelly Clarkson – and that makes sense to me as this WAS the decade of American Idol after all. Then they move on to Coldplay, saying this:
A Rush of Blood to the Head
Song: God Put a Smile Upon Your Face
Before it became fashionable to bash Coldplay as a stand-in for all that is stately and milquetoast in pop music, the band made a couple of enormously successful, culturally ubiquitous and extremely well-received records. From 2002, A Rush of Blood to the Head was shaping up to be an undisputed classic at the time — it’s as artistically ambitious as it is catchy, which is saying a lot — yet it’s lost much of its critical cachet since then. Still, it’s impossible to ignore its reverberations in the successful likes of Keane, Snow Patrol and other likeminded bands that ruled the charts in the ’00s, and presumably beyond. For an album so widely heralded in 2002, it feels funny to say that A Rush of Blood to the Head is underrated; today, it’s underrated. — Stephen Thompson
So a group that is seen as a joke today, but influenced a few other forgettable mainstream pop groups, is important enough to make the list? OK, I will accept that fairly flimsy rationale, but what about the inclusion of ‘Snorah Jones’?
The fact that Norah Jones is Ravi Shankar’s daughter only added to the fascination spawned by this record, which at times reflects the country-music side of Ray Charles, the sensuousness of Billie Holiday and the cool soul of Nina Simone; plus, Jones was only 22 when it came out in 2002. Any time a record does crazily well, there’s bound to be a backlash — and this one sold roughly 20 million copies, which qualifies as doing crazily well — but Jones can’t be faulted for her ubiquity. Besides, Come Away With Me is a joy. — Bob Boilen
Let me paraphrase: she made the list because she has a famous dad and sold a crapload of records and the reviewer likes her (completely generic) stuff? Wow … no wonder people trash these lists.
I personally liked seeing the inclusion of Amy Winehouse, Britney Spears, Sufjan Stevens, Green Day and others who have made music that was broadly influential. On the flip side, there seemed to be a need to include certain ‘names’ like Kanye West and the explanations were pretty thin. And then there is the absence of the triumphant return by Joni Mitchell (Shine) and some great recordings by folks like Bob Dylan.
I’ve reviewed Jazz music here, so what do I think about the inclusion of The Bad Plus and Jason Moran on the list?
The Bad Plus recording ‘These Are The Vistas’ is at once challenging and accessible, fusing modern popular songs and progressive arrangements and post-modern jazz improvisation and standard jazz instrumentation to create something that is at once powerful and comforting. Do they belong? Yeah.
Jason Moran is a wonderful player and has some nice recordings. To me he represents the rest of the list – safe, comfortable and unchallenging. Middle of the road stuff that people can check out based on the list and maybe grab the CD and be quite happy with the musical quality.
Every year we get lists, and sometimes lists of lists – and that trend has only increased in recent years. The end of the decade means yet another excuse to generate reams of lists!
And like most of the lists, this will generate some discussion, hopefully outside of just how useless the list is, and then we will move on after a quick chuckle about how bad the list is now and how laughable it will seem in just a few short years.
So what do YOU consider the ‘most important recordings of the decade’? Chime in on the comments!