The AP Year-End List is worse than Rolling Stone’s
Let me begin by answering a question you might have. I care about these lists because it reveals so much. Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle’s movie critic, once said that critics only give their own opinion. You simply have to find a critic with the same tastes as you. People largely forget that with music magazines. Instead, they take what is in here as gospel truth. The year end list exposes the true taste of a critic or group of critics. These are the people who entrust the rest of your year to
Alternative Press, if you don’t know it, covers “the scene.” I think that’s a term they made up. It involves alternative bands aimed at teenagers. It’s a serious rock magazine with a section on how to get the hairstyles of your favorite musicians. (They always use more product than I do, and I am a black lady.) I like it because it covers bands that don’t get covered anywhere else, but it also covers bands that probably shouldn’t be covered anywhere.
Their band of the year (which is crowd-sourced) is the trademark-infringing Christian hardcore outfit The Devil Wears Prada. Their band of the year is almost never good for anything (hell, last year it was All Time Low). As far as I can tell, the last good pick was in ’98, when it was The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.
AP’s lists start with the big one, best albums of ’09. I want to reproduce them here for you.
- Taking Back Sunday – New Again: Okay, fucking no. TBS is an okay band. They used to be almost good, then they lost their musical genius, and now they’re just okay. But they’re this year’s big scene band (meaning the biggest band currently in a release/touring cycle).
- Paramore – brand new eyes
- Manchester Orchestra – Mean Everything to Nothing: My friends started trying to get me to care about the actually brilliant Manchester Orchestra back in ’08. I didn’t care. Then I saw them at Lollapalooza and got interested. Now they’re starting to get some well-deserved attention! You should listen to them too.
- Person L – The Positives: I guess this guy used to be in The Starting Line.
- Thrice – Beggars
- Set Your Goals – This Will Be the Death of Me
- As Tall As Lions – You Can’t Take It With You
- Brand New – Daisy
- AFI – Crash Love
- Tegan & Sara – Sainthood: Here’s where the cracks show. Tegan & Sara are an amazing band, but you can’t quite bend the rules of what could be considered The Scene to encompass these Williamsburg favorites. But then one of them appeared on an Against Me! album, and by the next issue, there was a full page in AP about Tegan & Sara. This is what it feels like when the corset gets loosened.
AP also does this weird thing where they pick the best instrumentalists and such. Their best singer of the year is Hayley Williams of Paramore. I suspect that this might be related to The Scene’s backlash against its own distaste for the distaff. That is confirmed when I flip the page to find that their best keyboardist is Victoria Asher. The runners-up were Matt Bellamy of Muse (in the write-up, they imply that his piano-playing is a brand new development and not the original backbone of the band) and Emily Haines of Metric. It hurts my brain that those things were placed in that order. That is like attempting to make the case that celery is tastier than cupcakes. For one, the criteria doesn’t even match. For two, you’re just wrong.
Anyway, that is my point. The next time AP tells you that the Them Crooked Vultures album is only worth three out of five stars, remember that they honestly believe that Hayley Williams is the best vocalist of the year. The whole year.