Suck it up and get back to work.
It’s that time of year again. The time of the year that isn’t the end of the year, when all the music blogs/magazines post their end of the year best of lists. When men and women of all shapes and sizes get busy convincing you and themselves that they’ll be listening to Grimes in a year, rather than the same Dinosaur Jr. (when they're alone) and OutKast (when they’re on a date) albums they’ve been listening to nonstop since they first found an easy way to pay(ish) off their student loans. If November is when we give thanks for Plymouth Rock landing on everybody but us, it is also the time when the music industry takes a well deserved vacation. The vacation lasts until mid-March.
Back when there was a music industry, having end of the year lists in November sort of made sense. It was important to tell the rubes why this year’s Springsteen album was somehow different from the 374 that preceded it before the shopping season. This, in turn, would help SPIN fly off the shelves and that, in turn, would move forward the essential goal of the entire music industry of the last fifty years: to sell more cigarettes to underage dummies.
But now that the music industry consists of Rihanna and a couple interns at Matador Records, what’s the point? Now that SPIN in print has gone the way of Jann Wenner’s dignity, why perpetuate the charade that artists stop putting out awesome albums right around noon on Veterans Day? Now that Christmas shopping, while certainly still alive and kicking, has as much to do with music purchasing as, well, an iPod, why do we continue to waste valuable anonymous internet commenting time on this travesty of chronology? Basically the only reason for maintaining the status quo, at this point in time, is to give everyone in the industry that isn’t actually, you know, making music a break until they can bear to pretend to give a shit again. If PR shills and music critics were doing something of societal value like, say, child acting or male modeling, I’d understand, but they’re almost as useless as us musicians. And if we don’t get a break, neither should they.
I propose this, and it’s not a new proposal, but the reasons against it have been entirely eliminated now that Ahmet Ertegun is no longer the brass idol of Baal that all must kneel before: end of the year lists—if motherfuckers absolutely insist on them—in January. End of January. After all the albums of the preceding year have been released and music writers have had time to actually listen to them and spare them more than a minute’s thought in between Chris Brown tweets. Tris McCall over in Jersey has been doing this for years, but it’s never caught on, solely for reasons of capital. But the capital is gone. And it’s never coming back. Now the early lists just mean that hard-working, God-fearing musicians like myself and Rihanna have to wait until mid-February to release our spoken word double LPs (mine’s called “Just Sayin’,” in case you’re interested, while hers is just a series of whip lashes across various animals genitalia spaced over two records), and I don’t think that’s fair.
I realize that this couldn’t be done overnight. It would require literally hours of recalibration of websites, minutes of public relations flacks returning emails after December 1st, seconds of label reps making some new fucking excuse as to why—even though they’re doing a digital-only release—there needs to be a four month lead time. It’s nigh impossible to expect anyone to operate under the burden of this minor inconvenience, but I remain hopeful.
And to stop being a jerk for a second, I’m not at all opposed to end of the year lists. The bottom 10 are usually pretty good, and if some high-profile blog veering from their advertisement-mandated dictums (out of either old fashioned metal/punk tokenism or— heaven forbid—actual taste) helps move some of Profound Lore Records' catalog out of the basement, then that’s nothing short of a mitzvah, and I’m for it. But the December-through-February music world break is annoying. Christmas is for the Christians, Chanukah is a minor holiday, Ramadan ain’t for the lazy, and nobody but nobody in the music industry celebrates Kwanzaa—they just make dismissive, racist jokes about it online. So everybody back to work.
And I look forward to my band being in the top 10 of everybody’s End of the Year Best of List in January. Thanks in advance.