December is nearly over, which means that pretty much every music publication has filed its obligatory end-of-year list and gone off to gorge itself on turkey and mulled wine. Looking over said lists, it’s interesting to note how they’ve become an exercise in critical homogeneity — you see the same names cropping up over and over again on list after list, and the days of gloriously off-the-wall choices like NME dubbing the long-forgotten Sugar’s Copper Blue as the best album of 1992 are long behind us. Still, having said that, pretty much every publication manages to include at least a couple of names that no-one else does, and it’s these idiosyncratic choices — both worthy and/or laughable — that tend to reveal the most about the publication in question. If you’re wondering which one might be right for you, then look no further — after the jump, we dissect 10 leading outlets’ top 10 lists, and consider what their choices say about them (and us).
The top 10: 10) Robbie Robertson — How To Become Clairvoyant; 9) Wild Flag — Wild Flag; 8) Wilco — The Whole Love; 7) The Decemberists — The King Is Dead; 6) Lady Gaga — Born This Way; 5) Radiohead — The King of Limbs; 4) Fleet Foxes — Helplessness Blues; 3) Paul Simon — So Beautiful or So What; 2) Jay-Z & Kanye West — Watch the Throne; 1) Adele — 21
Key choice: Robbie Robertson — How to Become Clairvoyant (#10).
“Quirky” choice that will come back to haunt them: The Lonely Island — Turtleneck and Chain (#50).
What it all means: Rolling Stone is A Serious Magazine with An Older Readership but still has A Sense of Humor. Alternatively, you could argue that it means Rolling Stone is Out-Of-Touch with everyone except for its Baby Boomer Readership. Either way, the strangely schizophrenic nature of this list, with The Band’s Robbie Robertson nestling up against Wild Flag and Lady Gaga, embodies Rolling Stone’s dilemma in the 21st century — keeping sweet with their aging readership while trying to retain some semblance of relevance to younger generations.