Monday 30 November 2009


It is nearly the end of another Decade. I am not suggesting that there is anything innately special in this. Defining a period of ten years as an entity in itself is utterly meaningless and historically worthless. Decades are nothing more than man-made conveniences. None of us really expect to feel any differently when the clock strikes midnight on New Years Eve. What we can expect from the lead up to January however, is a frenzy of what can loosely be described, 'listomania'. By this, I mean the tendency of music journalists to celebrate the conclusion of an era by compiling endless hierarchical lists.

Never before have I witnessed such mutinous discontent among the readerships of every music publication attempting a retrospective of the last decade. Such vitriol is usually reserved for the likes of James Blunt and Preston. I would gently like to ask these irate readers to make themselves a cup of nettle tea before mopping their brow with a cool flannel. I doubt that even the most bigoted writer would pretend that these lists have much validity. In essence, they are an inadequate means of assessing an album's importance, much like a decade is an inadequate device for analysing history.

The truth is that, despite collective cries of mock indignation, everybody secretly loves lists. They provide the ideal discussion point. For music fans, it is the closest we will get to experiencing that sense of machismo camaraderie which is ordinarily for self-righteous football hooligans alone. So, when you are next complaining about who has made the top ten, please be aware of how much you are enjoying the debate that has ensued.

I have selected some of the best lists for your perusal. Now go forth and proselytise! Observer Music Monthly:

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