“Blender” Sneaks A Best-Of Into Its Pages

kalaaaaaaa.jpgBlender‘s year-end issue did, in fact, have its list of the year’s top 25 albums–although you wouldn’t know it by looking at the mag’s cover, which did take the time to tout a) its list of “the 209 best songs of 2007″ (which run in eight-point type underneath the list); b) its readers’ poll, which allowed visitors to Blender’s Web site to choose the “best of 2007″ from a narrowly defined set of parameters (how else do you think the Arcade Fire placed in the “Best Band” category?); and c) the 20 essential CDs of 2008. M.I.A., whose Kala landed at No. 1 in Blender‘s estimation, only gets a passing mention on a “Plus:” coverline, and she’s billed third to Rihanna (No. 25 and Best Single in the readers’ poll) and freaking Feist (No. 13 and “Breakthrough of the Year” in the readers’ poll).

THE GOOD: This list is a near-perfect execution of the Blender-patented blend of mainstream music (Brad Paisley, Jay-Z, Amy Winehouse), just-outside-the-mainstream music (Spoon, Okkervil River), and hot babes (Rihanna, Feist, Miranda Lambert).
THE BAD: I can think of about 10 albums that came out last month that are more interesting than Band Of Horses’ Cease To Begin. Just… no.
THE WHAAAA? For an album that just came out last Tuesday, The Dream’s Lovehate sure made an impact! It’s No. 7, just behind In Rainbows.

25. Rihanna, Good Girl Gone Bad
24. Bright Eyes, Cassadaga
23. Lily Allen, Alright, Still…
22. Band Of Horses, Cease To Begin
21. Okkervil River, The Stage Names
20. Brad Paisley, 5th Gear
19. Modest Mouse, We Were Dead Before The Ship Sank
18. Justice,
17. Bruce Springsteen, Magic
16. Jay-Z, American Gangster
15. Alison Krauss & Robert Plant, Raising Sand
14. The White Stripes, Icky Thump
13. Feist, The Reminder
12. Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
11. LCD Soundsystem, Sound Of Silver
10. Rilo Kiley, Under The Blacklight
9. Miranda Lambert, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
8. Amy Winehouse, Back To Black
7. The Dream, Lovehate
6. Radiohead, In Rainbows
5. Against Me!, New Wave
4. Kanye West, Graduation
3. Lil Wayne, The Carter 3 Sessions
2. Arcade Fire, Neon Bible
1. M.I.A., Kala

Blender [Official site]

  • Ned Raggett

    I can think of about 10 albums that came out last month

    An error here. I think you meant ‘last week.’

  • SomeSound-MostlyFury

    Grrr! I loved Cease to Begin! *your angry Band of Horses diatribe here* Give it a couple more spins, it grows on you, etc etc. All you damn indie kids and your popularity backlash! Grrr!!

    /tries to spice up comments post-Sky Blue Sky fighting.

  • Kate Richardson

    I really like the new Band of Horses album. But I was unmoved by Neon Bible and I will probably not really listen to In Rainbows for at least another 4 months, so I think I can still work here…?

  • BigRicks

    @SomeSound-MostlyFury: I agree, not only do I enjoy the album but I saw them live at Toad’s Place and they put on a good show too. I understand My Morning Jacket might do “whatever it is they do,” better than BOH, but the album really isn’t that bad.

  • TheMojoPin

    ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH!!! MIA at #1…the goggles…dey do nathink!

  • dana danger

    @TheMojoPin: Exactly. ROLLING STONE DID IT TOO!

  • Weezy F Baby

    but have you HEARD that Dream record?? not surprised it is where it is.

    also, if you’re going to do the cliche lil wayne mixtape for cred, at least put on Drought 3. Carter 3 sessions was pretty weak.

  • Ned Raggett

    @SomeSound-MostlyFury: All you damn indie kids and your popularity backlash!

    Believe me, that has nothing to do with it from my point of view!

  • Mordy

    What is up with Lily Allen on all the lists? I think it was on all the lists last year too? I’m pretty sure (though I can’t doublecheck, cause Idolator lost all the ballots- ahem) I voted for it in 2006.

    Every time someone mentions enjoying the Band of Horses album, an angel loses its wings. And cries. And then it taken out back and shot.

  • natepatrin

    @TheMojoPin: 1) It’s “My eyes! Ze goggles do nussink!” Why do people never get this right? SO ANGRY AT SIMPSONS MISQUOTE
    2) I ain’t going to yell at anyone for expressing their opinions re: pop music (at least not today), but I will say that the anti-M.I.A. backlash is more boring and played-out to me than M.I.A. herself could ever be to anyone that hates her.

  • Chris Molanphy

    @Mordy: Lily Allen’s in the same boat as Amy Winehouse: U.K. release in ’06, dropped in the U.S. in ’07. That’s why you’re still seeing it on a few lists.

    What’s confusing about Allen in particular is, for some reason, a lot of U.S. critics cheated and name-checked it in their ’06 lists (probably because it was out for almost half the year in Britain), whereas on Winehouse the critics mostly held their fire awaiting the ’07 U.S. release. Go figure.

  • Clevertrousers

    Am I the only one who thinks that “Kala” sounds like audio sludge? I dug M.I.A.s first album, but I think that “Kala” is just the emporer’s new clothes and that none of the cool kids want to be the first to admit that they don’t really like it for fear of not seeming multikulti enough. But seriously, it’s some weakass shit.

  • iantenna

    band of horses went from aping neil young to aping eddie vedder aping neil young.

  • Chris Molanphy

    @Clevertrousers: See, I’m the (near) opposite: I liked Arular fine but found it a teeny bit overrated. But to me Kala is the one where she lives up to her promise. It’s top three for me for this year, easy.

    One man’s ceiling, etc.

  • Jasonbob7

    How Arcade Fire beat out Spoon and the White Stripes is a mystery to me. But then again, I tend to judge albums based on their musical merits, not on media buzz and blog love.

  • bcapirigi

    i don’t know about the real critics, but (according to my itunes anyway) i found out about lily allen in june of ’06 and amy winehouse this february. but, then, they did both come out this year. (kinda like the pipettes and sally shapiro, who i also had a year-end best-of quandry thinking of, although apparently nobody else did.)

  • Michaelangelo Matos

    @bcapirigi: coughpeterbjornandjohncough

  • Adam Bernard

    @Clevertrousers: I’m with ya 100% on this one. Kala is sonic garbage. I remember when I first listened to it I put it on while working and about halfway through I thought to myself “why am I still listening to this? It’s not even music, it’s just noise and not even enjoyable noise at that!”

  • SteveHy

    I notice the word “interesting” popping up a lot in these year-end list reviews. Should it really be the goal of list compilers to be “interesting”, or should they just list the albums they liked the most? Personally, I prefer the latter; it just seems more honest, even if the lists end up looking similar. (Individual writers’ ballots are where the real idiosyncracies are found, not on a master list.)

  • silvermedal

    @Adam Bernard: Pretty strong statement from someone who believes that Finger Eleven put out the 16th best album of the year.

  • Clevertrousers

    Adam, Denis – the thing of it is that I really did like Arular. Alot. Made MY top 10 list that year, easy. So I was really looking forward to Kala and it just kind of fizzled for me. I even went out to her big Brooklyn show and everything, and it just didn’t do it for me at all. Same goes for the new Manu Chao album – and I’ve loved him since waaay back in the day when Mano Negra did their first U.S. show ever at the old Cat Club on 13th… But damn, even I gotta say that “La Radolina” was some tepid shit. There was very little that I was looking forward to this year that actually delivered, but thank god for all those awesome left-field treats like Victor Axelrod’s record and Sharon Jones breaking out into the mainstream…

  • the_j

    The songs were much more melodic on Arular, which is what I think made it a better pop record. Paper Planes carries that on, but most of the record reminds me of more baltimore club music. Still very good.

    Band of Horses is good. It plays out kinda quickly…according to itunes 22 plays and not only does nothing new reach out to me, it gets on my nerves a bit.

    I see they have Against Me! in the top 5, a record that, until Spin gave it the number 1 spot, I had never ever heard of. So I got it this weekend and am pretty impressed. Thrash Unreal is catchy as all hell. And the cut with Tegan is nice too.

  • Anonymous

    Can we all just admit that Bright Eyes is the single most overhyped band/musician in all of human history?

  • SomeSound-MostlyFury

    @Ned Raggett: apparently I’m really bad at sarcasm….count em, not one, but two people thought I was serious…

  • The Dewd

    @blackheartededitor: Sufjan Stevens is worse. But Bright Eyes is up there.

  • Maura Johnston

    @SteveHy: Well, I only used “interesting” in this context in that I suspect that critics find something interesting within the Band Of Horses record. Which I don’t.

  • Trackback

    For those who like their music list links: Pitchfork’s Top 100 Tracks of 2007 (same #1 as me), Rolling Stones’ 100 Best Songs, Spin’s Top 40 Albums (crazy #1 choice), Blender’s Top 25 Albums, and Slate’s Music Club.

  • Adam Bernard

    @seagull v. winfield: They did this magical thing called songwriting. M.I.A. should consider trying it sometime.

    PS – There’s an M.I.A. Heat joke waiting to happen here (if you’re a b-ball fan).

    PS II – Thanks for checkin out my site, man.