But I also know what they really amount to, and that's nothing. They're opinion, sometimes amalgamated, sometimes not. Ultimately it's a bunch of people giving opinions, which usually conflict, and so the most generic, uninteresting thing comes out on top. There was a lot of talk recently about Vertigo replacing Citizen Kane as the best movie of all time in the BFI Sight and Sound poll. Over 800 "critics and experts" voted in that poll...
I bet relatively few of them would call either Vertigo or Citizen Kane their "favorite" film, ever. Are they universally recognized as quality? You bet. So they go higher, because everyone knows they're good (Even so...come on, everyone knows Rear Window is Hitchcock's finest hour). If Albert Criticism of Mont Prospect thinks The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the Eighth Dimension is #1, with Kane at #2 and Vertigo at #3, well that drives up Kane and Vertigo, but it a futile gesture for Buckaroo, if you see what I mean.
Pitchfork's The People's List, which aims to, by public polling, find the "best albums of 1996-2011." The ultimate results of this poll are almost laughably predictable...Radiohead is all over it, Arcade Fire, The White Stripes. The bands that the "Pitchfork Crowd" has been told to like, voted on by the "Pitchfork Crowd."
I should let you know, I am no huge fan of this kind of music. I respect Radiohead, for example, but I can't bear to listen to a whole album. Makes me want to claw my eyes out. There's my intellectual knowledge that they are a talented group, slamming up against my utter lack of any emotional connection to them. Same with Wilco or The National. I'm also perplexed by the fact many of these groups claim Springsteen influences...not to these ears...but that's another rant.
The end point it...these folks picked EXACTLY the albums you would expect.
Yet somebody has to have a problem with it...and that someone is Jody Rosen at Slate. The title of the article says it all; 'Pitchfork’s “People’s List” Is a Scandal.'
Really, Jody? a "Scandal?" Can you tell me why?
Even so, “The People’s List” poll is a scandal. Even if we accept the inevitable narrowness of such an undertaking—even if we concede that, in a poll of indie-rock devotees, 24 albums by black people out of 200 is a pretty solid showing—even on its own parallel-universe Pitchforkian terms, the results are an embarrassment.
I’m referring to the list’s gender breakdown. If I’m not mistaken, there are just 23 records by women artists in the top 200, and only two in the top 50. And that’s a generous count, making room for co-ed acts like The xx, Beach House, and Portishead. Again, we can look to the self-selecting voting base. According to Pitchfork’s own stats, 88% of the poll respondents were men. “The Dudes’ List” might have been a more accurate title.
Y'know what, Jody Rosen? Please shut up. You're making Liberals look bad. I am 100% pro-women, I 100% support my feminist, strong wife...who I'm happy to say makes more than I do, by the way. I utterly reject your outrage at the fact that an online fucking poll didn't reflect enough female artists. I reject your feeling that any opinion poll MUST conform to some sort of gender or racial "check in" to be valid. Not to mention, as noted in the comments for your article, you're not counting bands like The White Stripes and Arcade Fire, who have female members.
And calling it a "Scandal?" ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?
I also love some of her reasoning...
Still—what the hell is wrong with these dudes? Did it escape their attention that for much of the past decade and a half, female artists have had a stranglehold on the popular music zeitgeist?
It's popular? So what? Limp Bizkit had gold records (maybe even Platinum), and had their own moment of "zeitgeist," and they suck ass.
Have they never heard of Missy Elliott? Can they really prefer The National to M.I.A.’s Kala, to Bjork’s Homogenic, to Joanna Newsom’s Ys?
Yes, they really can. I prefer Armored Saint's Symbol of Salvation to anything on the "People's List" AND what you listed. Can I say that that's a "scandal," too?
Where are politics in all of this? If you surveyed the roughly 24,600 men who submitted “People’s List” ballots, I wager you’d find nearly 100 percent espousing progressive views on gender issues. This would not be the case if you took a similar survey of pop, R&B, or country music fans—yet a “People’s List” of top recordings in those genres from 1996-2011 with a similar gender breakdown is unimaginable. The fact is, when it comes to the question of women and, um, art, the Top 40’s great unwashed—and even red state Tea Party partisans—are far more progressive and inclusive than the mountain-man-bearded, Fair Trade espresso-swilling, self-styled lefties of indiedom. Portlandia, we have a problem.
And here's your ultimate problem, and where you make yourself look like an Idiot, Ms. Rosen...(It's HILARIOUS you invoke Portlandia, because you sound like a character from theat show) This poll has fuck-all to do with politics. It's a list of albums that the people who voted liked, period. The directions didn't say "please consult your political beliefs before you vote." What I listen to has jack and shit to do with how I vote, or what I believe.
Nobody voting for this poll was thinking "gotta pick only male groups," they were thinking "what do I like to listen to." That's all they should be thinking! They also shouldn't be checking off a list of quotas to make everyone happy, no matter how politically correct those quotas may be.
What you, or I, personally, would like to see recognized, is UTTERLY irrelevant. I think Rush's albums in the same time frame blow everything on that list away...Mastodon's last two kill anything on the list, as well, but there's no metal at all.
That's OK...I still love them and I don't need a poll to tell me that's OK. I also certainly don't need anybody lecturing me that I'm not a good enough liberal, or supporter of women, or whatever, because I happen to like male musicians more, their music engages me emotionally. Art cannot be subject to the whims of politics, and so, too, neither can taste. So, while I appreciate that you think the amassed Pitchfork Nation didn't vote "correctly," they just don't have to check in with you, at all.
So, really, the only "scandal" seems to be that this amalgamated list, which doesn't mean shit anyway, put forth a result you don't like.
Get over it. You have your own albums to listen to.