Influentialalbums.com is a “quiz” one of your Facebook friends might’ve posted, boasting “Very few people own 70 or more. How many have you got?” and listing 100 albums ranging from the duh (Blonde on Blonde, Pet Sounds) to the hmmm (Gerry Rafferty? Felt??) to the genuinely bizarre (well, see below). The most obvious thing that stands out is the list doesn’t claim to be only “rock” albums, but other genres are represented with just one thing apiece. The staggering amount of white people makes a Rolling Stone list look like a Complex list. No one knows where this thing comes from, although selections like Super Furry Animals are a dead giveaway that the “quiz”/list/viralbait is probably of British origin. Still, it’s a pretty astonishingly bloodless compendium (hint: the jazz album ain’t Miles, Monk or Coltrane). So here’s a futile attempt to corral the most bizarre inclusions and exclusions. Hopefully chanting “For Emma, Forever Ago” three times at a mirror will banish this thing from whence it came.
1. No rap.
Don’t do what I did and attempt to count how many artists of color there are on here. Public Enemy of course, the What’s Going On of token rap albums (What’s Going On is here too, although no Kind of Blue???) is a safe bet for the afterthought section of any white rockist’s pantheon. But instead of Biggie you get Bloc Party and a member of Massive Attack. Not even the OutKast album with noted not-even-a-rap-song “Hey Ya!” is reporting for duty. Even Gen. Wesley Clark was influenced by “Hey Ya!” But clearly we have been duped and implanted with false memories. We were listening to the Delgados the whole time.
2. No…well anything else except rock and uh, post-rock.
Country, r&b, jazz and rap share the same number of albums on this list as Slint. Electronic and “world” music, forget it. There’s not even Moby. There’s not even fucking Bob Marley’s Legend. Zero blues. Even the only jazz performer on here, Dave Brubeck, could only have been included for completely depressing “white” and “just died” reasons. Total Grammy Illuminati garbage.
3. Mazzy Star – So That Tonight I May See
Did I mention there are no women on this thing? Even for a token female spot, Mazzy Star is completely puzzling over PJ Harvey, Janis Joplin, Liz Phair, Bjork….Hoping for Aretha or Missy would be inane, of course. The more important artists would’ve been even lazier and easier to include, so someone at like Bizarro Zynga or whatever hellmouth spawned this thing would’ve had to work to lobby for Mazzy fucking Star. Look, “Fade Into You” was slow and pretty. I bet the rest of this album is too, except I don’t actually know because no one in history has ever urgently demanded that their hardcore music buddy drop everything and throw on a Mazzy Star album.
See also: How Not To Write About Female Musicians: A Handy Guide
4. Dexys Midnight Runners – Searching for the Young Soul Rebels
But of course it makes room for noted album artist Dexys Midnight Runners. What’s that you say? Lots of Celtic brass pub-pop bands sprung up in their wake? Of course I’m not thinking of the Pogues, are you crazy? They’re not even on here!
5. New Order – Technique
Uh, isn’t 1989 a little late for New Order to have been “influential”? Come on, how is this choice not completely arbitrary? I love Get Ready too but I’m not gonna pretend it was Cut Copy’s holy-shit moment in 8th grade.
6. Elliott Smith – Roman Candle
This isn’t the Wes Anderson one (Elliott Smith), the Good Will Hunting one (Either/Or), the major-label radio blitz (XO), the iconic artwork one (Figure 8) or the posthumous canonization-coronation one (From a Basement on the Hill). I guess that makes Elliott Smith’s least-heard record the “influential” one.
7. The Delgados – Peloton
Apparently Pitchfork gave this an 8.9 in 1999, and the review actually helps shed some light on who this might’ve been, well, influenced by: “the Delgados’ pristine pop does owe something to the sound of bands like Belle and Sebastian.” The author also writes that the Delgados’ Glaswegian scene owes a debt to the Pixies and Sonic Youth, and praises Peloton‘s use of orchestral instruments. That would almost be a legitimate claim for an influential albums list…if it didn’t already list far more wide-reaching albums by Mercury Rev and Sufjan Stevens. And none of this explains the absence of the Flaming Lips, who actually boast longevity, sales and enough iconicity to have won them the honor of having a tune be legislated into the Oklahoma state song. Have the Delgados even won that kind of recognition in their native Scotland?
8. Johnny Cash – The Man Comes Around
That’s right, Johnny Cash was deeeeeeeefinitely at his most influential in his near-death throes covering Nine Inch Nails and Simon and Garfunkel. You do that, list.
9. I Am Kloot – Gods and Monsters
Can even fans of this band name someone they “influenced”? Or for that matter what they even sound like? A cursory listen pitches them somewhere between the Go-Betweens and Muse. Because that’s just what the world needed: literary prog-pop. This stuff is to England what Creed is to here. At least listing goddamn Alt-J would’ve had the logic of winning the Mercury Prize behind it.
10. The Pretty Things – S.F. Sorrow.
I don’t know what this is but it’s missing the phrase “36 Chambers” and can go fuck itself in the nostril.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 30, 2013