As 2017 draws to a close, Shaun Ponsonby presents the top ten types of albums that will appear on every single end of year list produced by every other publication.
When I was six years old, I walked past a tree. The tree whistled in the wind and moved with grace above me.
That entire anecdote is totally meaningless, however it was a nice, pretentious way to open an article that tries to appear profound, but is actually just a list of random shit that we threw together.
I know you clicked on this article for said list, but first I would like to talk about myself at length. Nobody cares what I have to say, and frankly I’m not even liked enough to assume that they would. But nevertheless, that is what this site is really all about – me, the editor and creator.
This isn’t a personal blog, but I am going to treat it as such. And talk about ME. ME, ME, ME. My break ups, my new love, my time in Nursery and the people I went to primary school with. As a total narcissist, I’m completely oblivious to the fact that nobody cares – I’m going to tell you all about it, and then try some tenuous link as to why it is relevant to the bigger questions of the year 2017.
And what about 2017? It’s been a year of ups and downs. Sometimes it was up, sometimes it was down. Sometimes it was kinda in the middle. Sometimes it was about three quarters of the way up or down. It was like the Grand Old Juke Of York of years. If there’s anything we can take from these last 12 months, it is that they certainly existed, and things happened in them.
And so, after five punishing paragraphs, we move on to the reason you clicked on the article – the best albums of 2017.
These lists are generally published for two reasons. Firstly, it’s easy content and doesn’t take much effort. Secondly, for kudos. We assume that both artists and our readers give a shit what our favourite albums of the year are, but in fact precisely nobody has ever given a toss, with the exception of a few sycophants who are desperate to be a part of da bizz.
So we took the laziness of these articles to a whole new level – we didn’t even bother to name the albums. We just chose ten inevitable choices that will appear on the vast majority of lists that other publications will choose. The albums themselves are interchangeable, so why bother going to the extra effort of listening to them when we can just throw out a bunch of clichés?
In a way, that makes this the only list worth reading.
10. Female singer songwriter labelled “confessional”
Female singer-songwriters are always confessional, and this one did something in 2017 that is easy to compare to Joni Mitchell’s Blue. Its earthy melancholy reflects a moment of true soul searching for [insert artist], and at its best is naked and raw. Organic, sophisticated, brooding and intimate are other words I will probably use to describe it, but not necessarily in that order.
9. Jazz artist who is popular in jazz circles, but not all that known in the mainstream
This artist is an absolute superstar in jazz circles, so you’ll only know it if you can blag that you’re a total jazz head. But he has also worked extensively with [insert rapper or R&B star], which has brought him to a whole new audience.
The complex thingy is tuneful and intricate, leading to words on a page that make it sound like I know what I’m talking about, when in actual fact I just knocked this shit off in five minutes to meet a deadline.
8. Whoever won the BBC Sound of 2017 and/or BRITS Critic’s Choice Award
Nobody really likes it, but the industry voted on it. We picked the safest, least threatening choice possible so it was someone more likely to get a hit on the back of it. And as people who are either part of the industry or are desperate to be seen as part of the industry, we’re including it so we don’t look like we made a huge mistake, or so that we impress the people who picked it.
7. Old guy on a comeback who has made his best album since “XXXX”
When [insert artist] left [insert band] in [insert year], it seemed like the end of the road. Few could have imagined his latter day career would reinvigorate the adjectives we use to describe him in articles.
[Insert album] doesn’t exactly eclipse his influential work with [insert band], but what it does is prove that he is still very much an artist with something to say. Unlike me.
Being the year that grime became too big for boring old white people who run these publications to ignore, we’re including a grime album because we don’t want to look like we’re as out of step with what da kidz are listening to as we are.
Sadly, because this entire industry is a glorified circle jerk – or a bukake with the audience in the middle, if you will – we don’t know that much about it. Consequently, the write up will concentrate more on the success and recent re-breakthrough of grime than it will the music itself.
5. Pop album to prove we’re not total snobs, but not so high that you think we like it all that much
We often get accused of snobbery here at Generic Magazine, and we are heading you off at the pass by putting very successful pop albums on the list. Because we can’t be accused of snobbery if they’re on there. But we equally don’t want people to think that we like that kind of populist crap that people actually listen to, so we’re not putting it too far up the list. That would be preposterous.
Needless to say, whatshisname truly shocked us this year with this album that did all the things that the press release we got said it did. It catapulted them to new heights, both artistically and commercially. A genuine surprise.
4. One of the Gallaghers
Oasis were garbage for the vast majority of their career, with a legacy built entirely on their first three years. They are also guilty of ripping off a lot of better artists, something Oasis fans would be livid about if a pop star or rapper did the same thing. Yet the British music press won’t stop harping on about them. Every day, we are privy to a new chapter in what is basically the least interesting inter-band squabble in the history of the music business, being as it essentially consists of two overgrown children bickering before bed time.
The brothers’ solo albums are a good way for us to keep this going seeing as we need the content, and Oasis fans keep clicking on the articles and increasing our ad revenue. The music itself…blah, blah, blah…scissors.
3. The other Gallagher
Oh, yeah, both Noel and Liam will be very close to each other in the list, because we think it will create debate and drama. It won’t. It’ll be boring and shit.
2. Radiohead, even though they didn’t release an album this year
As music critics, we’ve been wanking ourselves silly over every move Thom Yorke and the other ones make, because music critics and people who take everything too seriously are the only people who really like Radiohead all that much. This is evidenced in the fact that they did so Goddamn poorly in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame fan vote last week, which led to publications like us crying like little bitches and bemoaning that people have inferior tastes in music. Despite this, their Glastonbury performance was so incredible that I genuinely considered fatally wounding myself directly afterwards as nothing in life – not family, friends, children, career or general achievement – could possibly top standing in a field for over two hours listening to Thom Yorke be a miserable bastard.
They didn’t release an album this year, but if they had it would have been better than 30 simultaneous orgasms, and we would have put it at number one. I will say that the 20th anniversary edition of OK Computer was superior to anything else that was released this year, even though nobody has ever been able to explain why the album is so good without using words that normal people need a thesaurus to understand. You know, cos Radiohead fans are cleverererer and shit, yeah?
But obviously Radiohead are no longer a band. They’re a state of mind. And although we might not be able to place Radiohead in this list, there are millions of Radiohead-type bands that we can include, keeping the space warm for when Thom “God” Yorke finally releases yet more dross.
1. The most obscure album we could possibly think of to prove that we like music more than you
[Artist] is so obscure that there isn’t even a picture of them in existence on the internet. The only people who have heard this album is the kind of bozo who listens to music for point scoring rather than actual enjoyment. We say we listened to and truly loved hundreds of albums in 2017, but actually it was pretty impossible for us to fully immerse ourselves and engage with said albums as much as we claim we did. Like, just on the basis of time. Literally impossible.
It’s these people who claim to hold this album in esteem. But not because it is any good. Lord, no. Because it actually isn’t all that good. In fact it’s worse than Metal Machine Music. It’s just pretentious and people who want to seem clever pretend to like it.
It is completely obscure and wholly uncommercial. And for that reason, and that reason alone, it is our top album of 2017.