Thursday, December 05, 2013

On "best of" lists and making them and talking about them and responding to the responses to them.

The Wrens playing Schubas, one of our choices for best music venues in Chicago. Photo by me.
At Chicagoist we do a "best of" list at least weekly, and I always look forward to them for the conversation they generate and the new things they expose me to. This week it was "Best Music Venues" so I was in charge of rounding it up. The writers came up with a great list that had real breadth and depth so I couldn't be more proud of what we produced. In the introduction I underscored how great our music scene is and that these were our favorites and that, yes, of course we would leave stuff out or maybe not include your favorite, or your favorite. It seems like there was a LOT of chatter around it—I missed a lot since I don't monitor the Facebook page or Twitter feed for the site that often (that's the purview of the E-in-C and full-time AE)—so I'm stoked that we touched nerves both good and bad.

If a venue isn't on the list that doesn't mean it's not great or that none of the writers liked it, it just means it didn't rank at the personal top for any of the contributors. Some places we didn't list are awesome places to see shows but are weaker on the booking front, others were outside Chicago, and others are still establishing themselves and could very well become a standout music venue. 

Some people would argue a best of list should be an objective thing that dispassionately selects its subjects and I would agree that in some cases that's true. I think the Michelin Guide probably falls into this category. But music, and especially one's preferred environment for experiencing it, is such a subjective thing, so I think our "best of" list stands on that foundation. And honestly I find those kinds of list a lot more compelling since they come from a deeper place in the writer and that buzz often comes through in their writing that supports their selection. That's awesome.

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