The Top Ten Top Ten Music Lists of 2008

Nothing has expanded the proliferation of year-end Top Ten Lists like the internet.  Every year critics of every stripe put together their top ten lists for the year, and impossible to look through more than a few lists without getting bored of nodding your head in agreement or muttering about what a jackass the writer turned out to be.  Here at Popdose, we’ve never been fans of the amalgamated lists like the Onion’s A/V Club and Pitchfork Media produce – there are too many cooks with fingers in the broth and there’s a usually a complete lack of coherence.  Lists by single authors tend to be more focused – and more interesting to read, because they introduce you to the writer’s personal tastes.

Here at Popdose, we decided to let everyone else do the heavy lifting.  The writers nominated their favorite music-related lists in ten categories (Top Ten Music Videos, Top Ten Albums, etc.).  We winnowed them down to a shortlist of nominations, and then voted on which individual list we thought was the finest for each category.  Were there any kind of objective criteria?  Nope.  Some of us voted solely on the basic content of the lists.  Others cared more about the quality of the writing that accompanied the actual list rather than the author’s selections.  Others (I’m not naming names here but this would be Jeff Giles) pushed really hard for lists with purple hypertext, simply because it reminded them of their My Little Pony collection.

So here, in no particular order, are your winners.  Hats off to the champions!  And none of this could have been accomplished without the massive collection of year-end lists compiled by largeheartedboy, so hats off to him as well.

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Winner: Alexis Larsen, Dayton Daily News

Channeling the voice of T. Herman Zweibel, Alexis Larsen counts down the top ten movie soundtracks of the year in style, savoring her syllables by hyphenating words like “con-cert,” “nu-ance,” and “ob-scure.” (Actually, it was originally a print column, and the typesetting carried over into the online version). Concise story capsules, essential details, and interesting extras are make this list worth reading. Not to mention that Alexis makes all the right picks.

Runner-Up: Drake Lelane, Film.com

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Winner: Antonio, The Cookie Crumbling Creation Company

Antonio has a firm grasp of the simple algebraic concept that good music + good video = good music video.  There aren’t any glorified live performances here, or pelvises thrusting into a fisheye lens, just a simple collection of solid songs (only a few of which are familiar) and interesting visuals.  The presentation could use some polish, and it would have been fun to see them ranked from 1 to 10, but there’s no faulting Antonio’s selections.  Scrolling through the embedded videos is like watching an episode of 120 Minutes – you know, during MTV’s salad years when they actually played music videos.

Runner-Up: Chris DeLine, Culturebully

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Winner:  Dave, Let’s Sexy Fighting

Dave doesn’t waste any words, he just gets straight to the point with a well-presented list of ten great covers of ten great songs by ten great artists.

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Winner:  Artvinyl

Okay, so there’s actually 50 album covers on display here.  And it’s hard to describe Artvinyl’s flagship product without sounding like we’re shilling for them, but it’s actually pretty cool.  They design frames that allow you to display the artwork from your favorite vinyl albums, while still having access to the records themselves.  In true democratic fashion, Artvinyl allowed visitors to vote on their favorite album artwork and compiled the results in a simple, tastefully designed page that’s almost as much of a joy to look at as the album covers themselves.

Runner-Up: Danielle Langley, Musicisart

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Winner:  Carlos Delgado, iF Magazine

Wait, we’re actually endorsing a list that features Katy Perry?  Exactly.  The top singles of 2008 aren’t necessarily the songs we like the best (even though we will admit to liking a few that are on the list), it’s about which ones managed to get their job as singles done.  These songs surfed down the radio airwaves and into your head, and getting them back out was harder digging a bamboo stand out of your back yard.  Carlos Delgado sums them up nicely, giving credit where credit is fairly due.

Runner-Up: Ryan Brockington, New York Post

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Winner:  Eric Danton, The Hartford Courant

Writing at the behest of a paper I used to deliver to doorsteps personally, Eric Danton counts off his favorite ten shows of the year.  Obviously selecting the top ten live performances is going to be a very subjective list – every live show is different and no writer can possibly see every band that comes to town – but Eric managed to accumulate quite a bit of mileage traveling to shows throughout New England and New York and his picks encompass a nice variety of acts.  Links take you deeper down the rabbit hole to full-length reviews of each show that made the cut.

Runner-Up:  Joe Long, Each Note Secure

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Winner:  Taylor Long, T-Sides

Although this pick carries the scent of homerism, make a visit to Taylor Long’s T-Sides and try to argue that she didn’t earn her title.  Go ahead.  We’ll wait.  Visually appealing, with short blurbs that blossom into full diatribes, Taylor doesn’t just tell you, she shows you and lets you listen along as well.

Runner-Up: 1,000,000 Words

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Winner:  Dustin Sussman, Spike TV

Dustin Sussman channels his inner crusty old man (or a surly gossip blogger) as he dissects and dismisses the year’s least worthy video offerings.  Dustin doesn’t try to sound sophisticated and critical, he just goes ahead and unleashes his fury in no uncertain terms on “artists” like Heidi Montag, Tokio Hotel, and Brokencycle.

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Winner: J.R. Taylor, New York Press

Speaking like a true outsider, J.R. Taylor tees up and swings away at ten of the year’s critical darlings.  And while none of us can agree with every single one of the choices that ends up on his skewer, we can gladly admit that he does a nice job poking away at the soft underbellies of some of the year’s most highly hyped acts – and the critics who loved them.

Runner-Up:  Allan Cheng, AWMusic

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Winner: The Top 12 Kids Show Rap Mashups, Sub Zero, Unreality Magazine

While I’d definitely recommend putting the headphones on before you check out any of these videos at work, this collection of rap music set to videos of children’s shows is absolutely hilarious.  Personally, I believe that Bert and Ernie belonged in the top spot, but that’s just a matter of taste.  Every year an amusing new mashup trend appears, and 2008 was no exception.

Runner-Up:  The Top 10 Ad Songs of the Year, Charlie Moran, Advertising Age

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