Tuesday, January 29, 2008

More Year-end Round-ups: The Polls

In case you haven't seen the results yet, here are the final tallies in the Idolator and Pazz and Jop polls. For anyone who had perused even a fraction of the other 947389 lists and polls from the usual websites, bloggers, and message boards, these results were hardly surprising. That's not a knock against these two larger, more comprehensive polls, it's just an expected consequence of publishing close-to-last. As expected (based on the voter makeup of the two polls), Idolator gave more weight to indie, blog, and underground tastes (ascribe whatever meaning you like to those labels), e.g. Panda Bear (#9 albums), of Montreal (#10), and Burial (#15), all of which performed significantly better than on the P&J list. Old fart rock (ascribe whatever meaning to like to that label, but it doesn't have to be derogatory unless you force it to be so), e.g. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss (#8) and Bruce Springsteen (#9), ranked significantly higher on the Pazz and Jop poll than on the Idolator one. Otherwise, just like last year, the results were remarkably similar, although that's hardly shocking considering the near-50% voter overlap between the two polls.

Year-end burnout probably contributed to the dearth of Idolator comments this year compared to last. I know it contributed to me not getting around to sending comments for P&J, although that's really no excuse considering how some voters managed to say so much with so few words. Todd Burns' essay for the Voice probably caused the biggest stir, as popist sensibilities went into reactionary overload at the suggestion that Justice might be crap. OK, OK, I know that Burns went a lot further than that and pissed people off by looking down his elitist nose at people who might dare to enjoy Justice without also taking the time to flip through crates of obscure German techno records. All right, that summary is also a bit too harsh, after all, it's hardly extreme to suggest that critics gain a bit more perspective about a genre before casting votes for that year's crit-anointed house or techno fad just because the mass consensus is collectively convinced that said album is cool. The difference between me and Burns is that no matter what my personal feelings were toward a consensus favourite, I would never tell anyone that they should be ashamed of liking any kind of music. To hell with the boundaries of taste -- let people like what they want to like. All I can really do is try my best to convince them to like the same things that I do. This is what distinguishes Burns' essay from my own rant in defense of Sean Kingston on my Top Albums of 2007 post.

Glenn McDonald compiled his fantastic annual voter ratings, which are always more fascinating to me than any year-end poll could ever be. This year I ranked 542nd (out of 782) in Voter Centricity, in the bottom 31st percentile. That's higher than each of the past two years, but lower than where I expected to be based on my votes for overall faves Arcade Fire and Panda Bear. Then again, virtually none of my eight other picks got much support, and in fact I cast the only vote for Horseback, Paul Hartnoll, and Sean Kingston in both polls. None of the "similar voters" had ballots too similar to mine -- I had no more than two albums in common with any of them -- although I did learn about an odd niche of voters who like both Panda Bear and Stars of the Lid. And finally, I may have voted for two very popular albums, but the voter pools for each were highly dissimilar. Very few people voted for both Panda Bear *and* Arcade Fire, which means that the particular *combination* of albums on my ballot helped punt me down the similarity rankings.

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