By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
By Steve Weinstein
Now that we all agree that its impossible to sell out, can we please retire the phrase selling out?
I bought one CD this year. One. Approximately 17 kajillion fewer than my average per annum from 1987 to 2002. But I ended up listening to approximately 17 kajillion records.
Probably nothing Ive done online has elicited quite the response of an early-2009 piece in which I posited that Lady Gaga was an alien from another planet, created in a secret lab underwritten by record-company executives eager for one last mega-pay-day. Lady Gaga is NOT an alien! She went to high school in New York!or words to that effectwas one of my favorite responses.
San Diego, CA
As much as the record business has changed in the last two decades, I am struck by the familiarity of the labels represented on my list: Reprise, Mercury, Columbia, Def Jam, Sub Pop, Jive, Smithsonian Folkways. This could be my ballot from 1982! And while its never been all that much of a priority for me to worry about the plight of record labels in the age of the free download, I have to say, I am glad we are all still here, and doing good work.
Id like to offer my peers a deal: If you listen to Rotting Christs AEALO or Decrepit Births Polarity (#7 and #9 on my year-end Top 10 for MSN Music), and find something thoughtful to say about either one, Ill try and do the same for Kanye West or Arcade Fire. If you listen to Ayumi Hamasakis Rock n Roll Circus, Ill try my damnedest to make it through a whole Robyn song.
I spent most of 2010 in an essentially windowless apartment in Queens, mostly alone except for two rabbits. It was a rough year, but one that subtly changed the way I interact with music, that made certain songs sound like salves. How did Mavis Staples know to reassure me that I was not alone? How did Gil Scott-Heron know that New York was killing me, and that I was longing for my hometown right outside of Jackson, Tennessee? Walking around crowded sidewalks and riding overflowing subway cars, I sensed that these artists were talking directly to mea feeling I remember from adolescence but is so rare in adulthood, when my engagement with music is almost entirely professional, that it surprised and sustained me.
Last year, Chuck Eddy wrote an essay called The Year of Too Much Consensus. With how Kanye West and The Social Network reigned supreme this year, I think hed be pretty frightened about 2010.