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Old 09-23-2020, 05:13 AM   #141
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But then how are we to judge music that fails to take a stance on matters of social import, either explicitly through its lyricism or indirectly through its popularity within larger movements? Where is the space for heralding sonic innovation that doesn't fall into line with the moral zeitgeist?

There's a great deal of meaning that we could pull from What's Going On resonating with this many people in 2020. It's an enormously relevant record nearly 50 years later and that deserves to be celebrated. What gives me pause is developing a canon based solely on 1. record sales and 2. an album's connection with an ephemeral cultural moment. So many great artists can't or won't live up to those standards and find themselves written out of history.

Underscoring this point is the lack of instrumental music on this list: jazz, IDM, modern classical, etc. Where does an album like Selected Ambient Works 85-92, Music Has the Right to Children, Another Green World, hell, even Loveless find its place in a canon built around pop stars, preachers and poets?

So yeah like, short term, of course What's Going On is going to be the album of the moment. I've been saying since like 2015 that it's one of the most relevant albums we have. But I'm not sure albums should be canonized for their similarity to What's Going On because that's what connects today, if that makes sense.
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Old 09-23-2020, 08:55 AM   #142
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I think there is also an embedded question of whether an album is great simply by virtue of taking on weighty subject matter. A prime example is A Crow Looked at Me, which was emotionally naked but also borderline unlistenable from a musical standpoint IMO. The reviews on that were extraordinarily positive. Same for Skeleton Tree, which I love dearly but still is not exactly a tuneful listen.
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Old 09-23-2020, 09:33 AM   #143
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Interesting that an album full of jazz musicians and hip hop producers heavily inspired by jazz only yielded 6 jazz albums out of 500 slots and about 80 years to choose from.

But we got an Eric Church album though, so it's all good.
They should just exclude jazz altogether, because they don't do it justice. I read this online somewhere, but the only jazz albums better than Take Care are Kind of Blue and Bitches Brew? Get out of here. I get Take Care's importance, but I can list 10 jazz records that have been deeply influential on modern music for at least half a century.
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Old 09-23-2020, 02:56 PM   #144
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I don't really care about where this album or that artist places on these types of lists, that's all subjective, what bothers me more is the methodology. Like I said, of course I support more diversity, but when such a significant part of your judgement of music is based on its social relevance, what that means is that you're putting faaaaar too much weight on the lyrical content and nowhere near enough weight on the musical content.

Music before lyrics. Always. No exceptions. Anything else is wrong. Diversity is so important, social relevance too, but we can't let those become such focal points that we stop actually judging the MUSIC itself - not the words, the music.

And I cannot buy Drake being important or influential. Honestly, the reactions I've seen to Drake, both in my real life and online, have more often been that he's a joke rather than an important artist. I mean even if we're using this lyrics-first methodology, he's not more important than Tupac. No one will be talking about him in 25 years the way we still talk about Tupac.
But again, I've never really listened to him because what little I've heard suggested I wouldn't get anything out of it.
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Old 09-23-2020, 03:53 PM   #145
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Music before lyrics. Always. No exceptions. Anything else is wrong.
Nah.
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Old 09-23-2020, 03:56 PM   #146
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Yeah i dont understand how anything else is wrong. You made the point already, it’s subjective. It’s someone’s opinion.
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Old 09-23-2020, 04:01 PM   #147
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Ok, you're right, I shouldn't have said "anything else is wrong". It is subjective.

But I personally strongly disagree with that way of judging music. Not that I don't appreciate good lyrics, but I'm not going to rank something highly just based on the lyrics if the music isn't doing it for me.

But yes, I shouldn't have said it in such absolute terms. I just was in an impassioned place when I wrote that.
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Old 09-23-2020, 04:15 PM   #148
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Body Talk?
Body Talk was there. Up in the 400s I think, but it was there.
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Old 09-23-2020, 04:49 PM   #149
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I don't think that popularity should be a factor in lists like this. Taste is subjective, but the whole point of criticism is to identify valuable qualities, aesthetic or otherwise, in art. How one goes about that is obviously not a clear-cut task, but I think the standard should be that one is looking for the work with the most artistic merit. And that evaluation always includes the work's ultimate meaning - I cannot think of much good criticism that has does not consider context.

There is a tendency to dismiss the inclusion of certain artists, particularly minorities, as an effort to reward popularity or simply to be inclusive, which in my view often dismisses the artistic merit of their work. Criticism has been dominated by white and male voices for so long, but it has started to become slightly more inclusive of late. Is it really far-fetched to think that those that shaped our understanding of what is or what is not valuable art were themselves biased, consciously or otherwise, in their assessment? It is natural that once more voices are included in criticism, there will be more disagreements regarding what has artistic merit.

One last pet peeve: let's not call the list reactionary. It's anything but. Reactionaries are those who oppose change and defend the status quo. That list is anything but.
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Old 09-23-2020, 08:08 PM   #150
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I don't think that popularity should be a factor in lists like this. Taste is subjective, but the whole point of criticism is to identify valuable qualities, aesthetic or otherwise, in art. How one goes about that is obviously not a clear-cut task, but I think the standard should be that one is looking for the work with the most artistic merit. And that evaluation always includes the work's ultimate meaning - I cannot think of much good criticism that has does not consider context.

There is a tendency to dismiss the inclusion of certain artists, particularly minorities, as an effort to reward popularity or simply to be inclusive, which in my view often dismisses the artistic merit of their work. Criticism has been dominated by white and male voices for so long, but it has started to become slightly more inclusive of late. Is it really far-fetched to think that those that shaped our understanding of what is or what is not valuable art were themselves biased, consciously or otherwise, in their assessment? It is natural that once more voices are included in criticism, there will be more disagreements regarding what has artistic merit.

One last pet peeve: let's not call the list reactionary. It's anything but. Reactionaries are those who oppose change and defend the status quo. That list is anything but.
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Old 09-23-2020, 08:18 PM   #151
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But then how are we to judge music that fails to take a stance on matters of social import, either explicitly through its lyricism or indirectly through its popularity within larger movements? Where is the space for heralding sonic innovation that doesn't fall into line with the moral zeitgeist?

Underscoring this point is the lack of instrumental music on this list: jazz, IDM, modern classical, etc. Where does an album like Selected Ambient Works 85-92, Music Has the Right to Children, Another Green World, hell, even Loveless find its place in a canon built around pop stars, preachers and poets?
Totally get where you're coming from. It's literally an impossible and I would argue futile task. Art is subjective, and this is an exercise in trying to make it objective.


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I don't really care about where this album or that artist places on these types of lists, that's all subjective, what bothers me more is the methodology. Like I said, of course I support more diversity, but when such a significant part of your judgement of music is based on its social relevance, what that means is that you're putting faaaaar too much weight on the lyrical content and nowhere near enough weight on the musical content.

Music before lyrics. Always. No exceptions. Anything else is wrong. Diversity is so important, social relevance too, but we can't let those become such focal points that we stop actually judging the MUSIC itself - not the words, the music.

And I cannot buy Drake being important or influential. Honestly, the reactions I've seen to Drake, both in my real life and online, have more often been that he's a joke rather than an important artist. I mean even if we're using this lyrics-first methodology, he's not more important than Tupac. No one will be talking about him in 25 years the way we still talk about Tupac.
But again, I've never really listened to him because what little I've heard suggested I wouldn't get anything out of it.
I think this is very simplistic. No one is looking only at the lyrics, divorced from the music. They go hand in hand. Otherwise poetry would be included. Lyrics are words, the music brings them to life. The social relevance absolutely includes the music. "Alright" wouldn't have become an anthem in 2015-16 if it wasn't a song.

And that's your opinion on Drake. But if you can't look at the landscape and see that he is important and influential, I don't know what to tell you. The fact that he is a meme/joke is proof positive of his importance and influence. There are still Hotline Bling memes doing the rounds five years on from its release. Personally, I'm with you, I don't like him much at all, don't think he's a great lyricist, or singer, or rapper, but to suggest he's not incredibly important or influential is silly.

Take a look at this clip. The kids have literally got a Tupac poster on their wall, and they didn't even know California Love. But they know Drake inside and out.



Whether we think Drake is as good as Tupac or Marvin Gaye or The Beatles or Joni Mitchell or whoever doesn't matter. I would argue that if publications are going to attempt to make an objective list, they have to include modern context, and that means rating Drake highly.
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Old 09-23-2020, 08:41 PM   #152
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Underscoring this point is the lack of instrumental music on this list: jazz, IDM, modern classical, etc. Where does an album like Selected Ambient Works 85-92, Music Has the Right to Children, Another Green World, hell, even Loveless find its place in a canon built around pop stars, preachers and poets?

Your point about jazz underscores the importance of context that Gump and others were remarking upon. Jazz often was protest music (Mingus, Miles etc), but you wouldn't know it just from listening to the albums. There's a reason it gets sampled so much among conscious hip-hop artists (is that still a genre term?).
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Old 09-23-2020, 08:52 PM   #153
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It is a crime to not include much jazz in such a list, I do wonder if it's because it is such an overwhelming genre to try and tackle, because it's almost its own world, and there's so much context that needs to be understood. Not that that's an excuse. Criminal to not include more jazz.

There's a great ?uestlove quote that's like, growing up as a black American, there were two things that were essentials in every household, the Bible and Kind of Blue.
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Old 09-23-2020, 09:01 PM   #154
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If you want to read a tragic story about casual racism, look up the death of Eric Dolphy. Guy was in diabetic shock and doctors wouldn't treat him because they assumed as a black jazz musician he was in heroin withdrawal.
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Old 09-23-2020, 09:25 PM   #155
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gosh, that's so sad and awful.
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Old 09-23-2020, 09:54 PM   #156
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Totally get where you're coming from. It's literally an impossible and I would argue futile task. Art is subjective, and this is an exercise in trying to make it objective.
I think there's one thing we should be able to agree on objectively: calling something one of the 500 best of all time implies some kind of resonance beyond the moment. There's really no excuse to put anything from the past decade in the upper half of the list.

The reason that The Beatles, Beach Boys, Dylan, James Brown, Chuck Berry, etc perennially appear so high on these lists is because they've had time for people to truly appreciate their influence and staying power.

As great as Kendrick or Kanye's albums might be, let them sit for a while before putting them into the upper echelon. To even be in the Top 500 at all should be an honor. To put Drake so high this quickly is laughable, regardless of his current popularity.

This is why we have year-end lists. It's why we have decade-end lists. But when we're talking about the entirety of recorded music history, higher placements should really be earned over time and not handed out as some kind of course-correction on decades of lists made predominantly by white music nerds.

As for jazz, they really shouldn't have bothered at all. Rolling Stone is a magazine dedicated to pop/rock, and those crossover with R&B, country, electronic music. Jazz is a completely different beast and I don't really give a shit what the RS staff thinks about that genre because it's not their territory.
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Old 09-23-2020, 09:56 PM   #157
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And also, as annoyed as I am about U2 getting dropped so hard, Dark Side of the Moon being outside the Top 50 is some kind of major WTF. It's not even my favorite Floyd album but come on.
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Old 09-23-2020, 10:57 PM   #158
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Evidently, Lemonade's first 4 years were impactful and groundbreaking enough to offset 47 years of Dark Side of the Moon being one of the best selling and recognizable albums in music history. That's impressive.
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Old 09-24-2020, 02:08 AM   #159
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I mean, I won't take issue with the high ranking of Lauryn Hill's album, groundbreaking in many ways, and still holds up. It's got a lot of great tracks on it and she was a vital voice in music and influenced a lot of people.

Béyonce might be a legend of sorts already but yeah that album hasn't sat for long enough yet.
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Old 09-24-2020, 08:23 PM   #160
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Fair warning, this is in no way, shape, or form the same Annie Clark. I thought maybe she was trying to sneak in a one-off acoustic/folk album, but no.

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