Yes, it’s the favorite time of the year for every obsessive music scribe (is there any other kind?). The Village Voice’s Pazz and Jop poll is now out. As anyone who’s kept their eyes and ears open, as usual, there’s not many surprises: Kanye West and M.I.A. came out on top as they did in many other polls from last year. And I still go by my overall reservations about the poll that I spouted last year.
A few things surprised me though. Dean Robert Christgau got to do his overall essay as always but the other essays this time looked more like extended comments. Most of them were only a paragraph or two. In previous years, the comments had been longer meditations about the state of the biz but now they concentrated on a particular artist or song. So what happened? One thing is, as Christgau sadly told P&J voters, the Voice isn’t going to be paying for comments. That likely took a toll on any potential zeitgeist essays.
I think there’s another factor here. As blogs become more and more ubiquitous, this is where writers’ comments are appearing throughout the year. Saving these up for P&J isn’t as practical anymore especially when you can be assured that your comments will appear in your own blog as opposed to making the cut in P&J.
I also wondered about the list I submitted to the poll. Another gripe that I have about P&J is that asking to pick a mere 10 albums ain’t realistic. There were a lot more albums that I wished that I could have given props to but couldn’t so out of frustration, I printed my own full list on my other blog. I consider that to be a much more realistic representation of what I liked and would like people to know about that just a top 10 list.
For the list that I did submit to P&J, I noticed that when I checked it against the rest of the electorate there, I was kind of an outcast (and I don’t mean the Southern rappers). With the exception of a few items on my singles list (Beck, Bright Eyes, Ying Yang Twins), almost everything else I voted for only had a few other people support or sometimes only me supporting it. What that means I guess is that I can celebrate as a proud iconoclast or worry that I’m pathetically out of touch with the pulse of the music biz. It’s probably a little bit of both but I know that in the end, I try to be honest as I can about what I like and which music I support. I recognize other artists for the stars that they are and at least make an attempt to understand their popularity but that doesn’t mean I have to love ‘em.
I’m sure there were other voters whose list probably matched or came close to matching the overall P&J top 10. I actually don’t have a problem with that IF that’s really the music that they love. Reacting against a particular artist’s popularity to not look conformist is actually just as bad as being consciously conformist- two sides of the same coin. Which is to say, viva your own taste, whatever it may be and whether anyone else agrees with it or not.