The Observer Music Magazine’s top Twenty Tracks of 2008 just makes me want to beat my head against the table. They claim to cover everything “From Abba to Zappa”, but the reality is they’re hopelessly biased towards ‘Landfill indie’ and ‘ASDA-Pop’. Just read their list and weep. And watch it get shredded in the comments.
A few commentators tried to defend the list, with comments like this.
..shock horror mainly contains tracks that most people..the ones with lives, will actually have heard.
So to him, ‘having a life’ equates to spending your time listening to daytime Radio 1. Bah!
While I don’t expect them to acknowledge the existence of the independently-released prog-rock releases that have defined my year, I pointed out that bands like Metallica, AC/DC and even Guns’n'Roses have all released critically-acclaimed and massively-selling albums this year, yet are conspicuous by their absence on a list which still finds space for the lumpen indie-rock of Oasis. You really have to have been living under a rock not to have heard of those bands. Yet they’re not even on OMM’s radar screen.
Another commentator wondered what age group this list is aimed at. But I don’t think there’s anything like the generation gap in music that existed 20 or 30 years ago – when I find myself liking some of the same bands as my 13-year old niece, the generation gap is as good as dead, at least as far as music is concerned.
While there’s always going to be acts heavily marketed to a particular generation (usually those too young to have developed a musical taste of their own), any band with a degree of musical substance is going to have cross-generational appeal nowadays. You can tell by the mix of ages you see at gigs by bands like Opeth or Porcupine Tree; they appeal to both grizzled 40-something rockers and emo teens in significant numbers. I’ve even seen teenagers at a Uriah Heep gig this year!
Anyway, I think the target audience of this list is people who neither know nor care about music, but want to know the right names to drop at dinner parties in order to appear cool and sophisticated. And people like that probably get the music they deserve.
My own top 20 (or more probably top ten) list will appear on this blog in due course.