Monday, November 23, 2020

Wherein I finally get the point though that certainly wasn't a certainty from the beginning.

I’m doing the same thing every music fan is probably doing right now, going through albums I listened to this year to start putting together personal “best of” lists. My list has always been based on music that hit me hard and stuck with me throughout the year, and right now I'm finding that a barrier. Because of the nature of the music world n 2020 a lot of great music was released only to too swiftly disappear. Even the monsters of pop couldn't hold onto public attention, even if they did rack up decent sales/streams (e.g., Lady Gaga, The Weeknd, Green Day (?!), and on and on ad nauseam). And those are just some of the expected heavy hitters that swiftly vanished instead of leaving a lasting cultural impact.

The author, hard at work looking like a dork.
Back in the spring the year looked to be stacked with promising indie or smaller releases, and while that proved to be true this environment wasn't exactly conducive to keeping anyone as a frequent conversational topic (unless you are Phoebe Bridgers, in which case you became the reliable focus of many music outlets when they needed something to write about everyone could agree on ... but even her Punisher has quickly faded in my personal estimation—a fine and solid album but not the masterwork many hail it as).*

Then there's the unexpected tripod of Dua Lipa, Annie, and Kylie Minogue, who all recorded albums entirely or mostly before the pandemic, but their release throughout the lockdown seemed to perfectly coincide with exactly what I needed from music in the moments they entered the world. In a way they built upon each other to create a triptych that I've come to rely on whenever I need a lift or an escape. In retrospect this feels like a cosmic alignment.

It's Monday, so forgive my rambling while I look for the point. I usually know what I'm driving at but now realize I started writing this to try and sort out my own thoughts, and as I go on I feel like I'm only confusing myself more. Do I want my "best of" to be grand artistic achievements or a catalog of alternate realties I escape to as needed? I guess my perfect list would include music that's both, right? And come to think of it, that's how I always build these things, so what's my problem?

Oh yeah, 2020. That's my problem. Something as simple and supposedly fun as creating a list of what I liked is brought down by the reality that even the tasks that seemed enjoyable in the past have to rub up against the friction that nothing is normal or expected right now. And my critical parameters have had to reckon with that in ways I'm less used to.

Hey! What do you know? I figure out the point I was trying to get at! Yay me. So now that that's sorted out, lemme go work on it for a while. Here's a fun song to reward you for slogging through all that.**

*No shade intended since it is a terrific album with a few truly outstanding songs (I still think "Kyoto" is an instant classic.) It just didn't have the staying power with me that other albums have, thus far.
**Oh yeah, did you even know Badly Drawn Boy released a new album this year? Probably not! It's rather good, even though I admit there are a few lyrics in "Is This A Dream" that feel oddly prophetic now.

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