Friday, September 03, 2010

Rapid fire comments on Pitchfork's Best 200 Tracks of the 90's

First of all, I'm not here to hate on the list (that's a link to the top 20). Overall I liked the selections and enjoyed the blurbs that I've read so far. It's more of a "bands" lists than a "tracks" list, that is, rather that select the best 200 tracks of the decade, it's as if they tried to select the best 200 bands and then tried to pick a representative track from each of them. They definitely picked a good bunch of bands though, and tried to cover a wide variety of stuff -- pop, hip hop, indie rock, grunge, dance, American groups, British groups ...

-- I'm tired of the whole stigma around "1979" that canonizes it as the "Smashing Pumpkins song that it's OK to like".

-- "Only Shallow"? "Say it Ain't So"? Why did they taint the top ten by going out of their way to make controversial choices and anoint a new canon? Why not just make the obvious choices, "Buddy Holly" and "Soon"? When you go out of your way to choose surprising songs from unsurprising bands, then you're not trying to make a list, you're trying to start an argument and spur discussion. It partially defeats the purpose of compiling the list. Ditto their #1 pick, "Gold Soundz", which flat-out acknowledges that they went out of their way to NOT make the obvious choice of "Cut Your Hair".

-- Matt Perpetua wrote the blurb for NIN's "Closer". Let's just let that one sink in for a moment. Try not to burst out laughing. Whatever, I've got no comment here. Oh yeah, the blurb is shit.

-- The Elvis version of "Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space" ... great song, but yet another challopsy pick. Was there anything wrong with picking one of the singles from that album? You know, the songs that Spiritualized would regularly play live in their concerts? The songs that fans actually got to HEAR in the 1990's without having to track down bootlegged versions or paying a fortune for one of the few pressings of the album that were made before the track was removed?

-- attention bloggers and wannabe critics: "Hyperballad" and "Windowlicker" are not the best Bjork and Aphex Twin songs. And those rankings ... #12 and #11? (yeah, I remember that they also ranked high on ILM's 1990's poll from a few years ago, and I didn't understand it then either)? Somehow "Post" went from being the misunderstood Bjork album to being her "Blood on the Tracks". Video aside, what does "Windowlicker" offer that you can't hear in 3920 other Aphex Twin songs from the 90's?

-- you read Scott Plagenhoef's (great) blurb on "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and you come away thinking that it has to be at least in the top 5. So why was it #13?

-- "Enjoy the Silence" at #15. We win!

-- isolating a single track from KLF's "Chill Out" for a "best tracks of the 90's" list is not only ludicrous, it shows a complete misunderstanding of what makes that album tick. "Chill Out" isn't a classic because of any one track. Nobody who hasn't heard the album is going to listen to "Wichita Lineman Was a Song I Once Heard" and have a revelation about "Chill Out" where they suddenly understand what all of the fuss is about. You can't excise a three minute slice out of what is essentially a 45-minute one track album and claim that it's representative of anything. What if someone claimed that the section from 25:32 - 29:04 from "D|P 1.1" on Basinski's "Disintegration Loops I" was their #80 track of the 00's? Would the stupidity of it be more obvious?

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