It’s End of The Year List time, and–as you know if you’ve been following along–I’ve been meticulously preparing for it. We have a couple more Fridays’ worth of releases in 2018, but I have a feeling not too much will change about my mile-long scroll of favorite what-we-used-to-call-records.
Don’t get me started on politics, but 2018 was an exciting and surprisingly transformative year for me in terms of what I listened to and how I listened to it. I worked very diligently to stay out of the curmudgeon’s bunker; popular and semi-popular music, just like the world that produces it, is in a state of constant flux, and were I to grouse about its current state, well–what would that run parallel to in the social and political world (I ask myself all the time)? When I think of grouchy white men shaking their fists at the sky and yearning for old times in non-musical sectors of experience, those would be the exact folks I’m not lining up behind. Perhaps my analogy is faulty, but it feels solid for me, and, quite honestly, I love and more importantly respect flux.
I don’t think I tried too hard to do it–often I was drawn as moth to flame, though I didn’t pay the moth’s price–but I indulged in far more pop and dance music than I have in awhile. Crucially, though, all four of my beacons (Tracey Thorn, JLin, Rosalia, Robyn) laced their fun with social commentary that was far from ham-handed. Plus, it was fun, like great pop is supposed to be. I make no apologies for feeling pleasure at this point in my life, especially from music.
Far more than in any musical year I remember, my listening was dominated by women’s voices. I have always tried to be a feminist, and the way our world’s burning right now I know I have to up my game, so one might suspect that I’m–hmmm–overcorrecting? I don’t think so. It just so happens that women have made made most of the liveliest, smartest, funniest, boldest, and most defiant records this year. I was suspicious of myself, so I triple- and quadruple-checked, especially things I lurved way back in January. Most of that stuff still works wonders.
Elsewhere? Not a lot of rock, but so what? Plenty of free jazz because it helps me with my brain. Some great international records because it’s not just about u.s. A nice tablespoon full of vivacious oldsters whom Death may find it hard to kill. Hip hop to the max. And really—the sheer amount of really solid records. This could be illusion, because I surrendered to Apple Music and thus listened to more records (at the expense of my old ones) than ever before. Thing is, though, I seldom felt I was wasting my time.
To test my theories and judgment, play this YouTube playlist loudly, on shuffle, and prepare to stretch some. Speaking of theories, I think being equally comfortable swiveling on the dance floor and tracking someone’s battle with entropy through your headphones in a darkened room is a worthy goal that might help you make friends and, if not influence your enemies, at least de-nut them.