Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pazz and Jop 2010 - the results

The results have been out for a few days and the only big surprise (at least for me) was Kanye West's margin of victory. Kanye was also listed on ONE-THIRD of all albums ballots, which is equally, if not more unbelievable.

Clover Hope's essay on hip-hop artists crossing over into pop music stands out as the finest essay this year, edging out Rob Harvilla's E!-Network stargazing meets the Mad Hatter tribute to Cee-Lo Green's "Fuck You". A few years ago, we used to joke about how Coldplay had become the rock band of choice for sensitive rappers and R&B artists who wanted to get in touch with their softer sides. Who knew it would become such an epidemic?

Third Eye Foundation's "The Dark" received just one vote -- mine. It was the first time that I was the sole person to vote for my number one album (it was close in 2006, IIRC I was one of three to vote for Bardo Pond's "Ticket Crystals"). I'll have more to say about this later on. The Voice chose to publish my slightly crazy comment about Taio Cruz's "Dynamite", virtually unedited, which was a nice surprise. I've had one-liners chosen for the comments section before, but this was my first mini-rant.

As always, Glenn McDonald did a sensational job with his yearly statistical breakdown of the P&J results (link here, and further comments and explanations by Glenn appear on the VV website). I finished 422nd out of 711 (41st percentile) on the Centricity rankings this year, down from last year thanks to only one of my picks (Arcade Fire) finishing in the top ten, as opposed to two from 2009 (Animal Collective, YYY's). Oddly enough, this felt like my most "centric" year ever, judging from the results. Last year I still saw myself as sitting far outside the consensus, because once you got past my AC and YYY's votes, my selections were mostly nowhere to be found anywhere near the top of the table. This year I had four picks in the top 50 (a first, I believe) and a total of six in the top 100. However, my #1 and #3 albums finished way down the list, which is why I was ranked so low. And if you look at my "empathies" list, none of them have ballots that look anything like mine (I didn't see anyone with more than two albums in common with me), which is more or less how it is every year.

Centricity ratings tell us whose votes come closest to matching the overall consensus. An ILM commenter noted that Ryan Schreiber's 5th place in centricity tells us more or less all we needed to know about the results (he was 5th last year too) and I can't really argue with that -- the results are pretty clearly Pitchfork-approved, and the favourites of the Rolling Stone generation (e.g. Robert Plant, Broooce, Neil Young) seem to slip further down the table each year. New to this year, the Kvltosis ratings took this a step further by weighting each ballot by the voter's centricity score. The results are fascinating -- you end up with alternate universe results where only the critics whose tastes border on the weird and wonderful cult album fringe are allowed to vote.

Yellow Swans' "Going Places" finished 10th on Kvltosis. This is reasonable, since people who vote for noise albums are way outside the consensus virtually by definition. It finished 81st overall, which is an amazingly high placing for a noise album (some might consider Emeralds' "Does It Look Like I'm Here", which finished 50th, to be noise but to me it sounds like it appeals to the same sorts of people who like The Field, so I wasn't too surprised by where it placed. To be fair though, I haven't heard the album in full).

Ditto for metal voters and techno voters (and voters from virtually all "fringe" genres). Records by Pantha du Prince and Actress were the highest ranking techno albums both in Kvltosis and overall (well, almost -- James Blake finished one spot higher than Actress). The people who voted for these albums were more or less the usual suspects when it comes to techno votes on this poll, which never includes me because I've never ended up voting for the consensus techno album or single in any year. I did really like the Pantha du Prince album though, and it would have finished around #12 or #13 on my ballot.

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