“Rolling Stone” Turns On Its TV

Dec 10th, 2008 // 43 Comments

Rolling Stone‘s year-end lists went online today, and its album rundown is topped by a relatively new band! The No. 1 record of the year in the boomer bible’s estimation is TV On The Radio’s Dear Science—although order is restored at No. 2, which is given over to the latest edition of Bob Dylan’s Bootleg Series collection. (Whew!) The full 50 after the jump, but first, a few thoughts.

THE GOOD: Santogold at No. 6; Ne-Yo at No. 33; The Academy Is… at No. 46. There are other surprisingly in-touch-with-the-times inclusions, but those three pleased me the most on first read.
THE BAD: Carp about the list’s high quotient of people flying the Real Rock Flag as much as you want; the real tragedy here is that a list announcing the biggest music magazine’s favorite records of the year is nestled inside an issue that has on its cover an actor who has yet to release a vanity-project album. As if we needed more evidence that music doesn’t really sell, well, much of anything these days.
THE WHAAAA? You guys, no one is believing the “Chinese Democracy (No. 12) is actually good” storyline. I understand this went to press way before the album’s anemic first-week sales—and the even grimmer second-week numbers—but really, putting it on any 2008 list that doesn’t have a caveat for “albums that actually exist out of time, but at least gave our reporters lots of news fodder leading up to its release” is sort of a cheat.



1. TV on the Radio, Dear Science
2. Bob Dylan, Tell Tale Signs — The Bootleg Series Vol. 8
3. Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III
4. My Morning Jacket, Evil Urges
5. John Mellencamp, Life, Death, Love and Freedom
6. Santogold, Santogold
7. Coldplay, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends
8. Beck, Modern Guilt
9. Metallica, Death Magnetic
10. Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend
11. Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes
12. Guns N’ Roses, Chinese Democracy
13. Blitzen Trapper, Furr
14. Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, Cardinology
15. The Black Keys, Attack & Release
16. Randy Newman, Harps and Angels
17. B.B. King, One Kind Favor
18. Lucinda Williams, Little Honey
19. Erykah Badu, New Amerykah, Part 1 (4th World War)
20. Kings of Leon, Only by the Night
21. Kaiser Chiefs, Off With Their Heads
22. Jackson Browne, Time the Conquerer
23. Conor Oberst, Conor Oberst
24. Girl Talk, Feed the Animals
25. The Magnetic Fields, Distortion
26. Mudcrutch, Mudcrutch
27. Brian Wilson, That Lucky Old Sun
28. The Knux, Remind Me in Three Days…
29. Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago
30. Duffy, Rockferry
31. MGMT, Oracular Spectacular
32. Jamey Johnson, The Lonesome Song
33. Ne-Yo, Year of the Gentleman
34. Stephen Malkmus, Real Emotional Trash
35. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!
36. The Hold Steady, Stay Positive
37. Nine Inch Nails, The Slip
38. Ra Ra Riot, The Rhumb Line
39. Taylor Swift, Fearless
40. Jonas Brothers, A Little Bit Longer
41. AC/DC, Black Ice
42. David Byrne and Brian Eno, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
43. Nas, Untitled
44. The Raconteurs, Consolers of the Lonely
45. Be Your Own Pet, Get Awkward
46. The Academy Is…, Fast Times at Barrington High
47. Of Montreal, Skeletal Lamping
48. Raphael Saadiq, The Way I See It
49. Hot Chip, Made in the Dark
50. No Age, Nouns

Albums Of The Year [RS]

  1. Anonymous

    Rolling Stone picks Dylan,Mellendude,BBKING, Jackson Browne,Mudcrutch for the old folks who read RS for the politics & national affairs and Taylor Swift & Jonas Bros for the teens who read because OMG Jonas Bros are on the cover

  2. Michaelangelo Matos

    The singles list is far, far worse, exemplified by:

    5. Lil Wayne, “Lollipop”
    84. Lil Wayne, “A Milli”

  3. Chris Molanphy

    @Michaelangelo Matos: Yeah, seriously: reverse those, and then we’re talking.

    Also, I’m gonna sound like a broken record, but: What’s up with that embarrassing MMJ album at No. 4? Especially after, in 2005, they only ranked the superb Z (I think) No. 6 — the kind of album RS should’ve put on top. Z was a career album, one of that year’s best; Evil Urges is one of the year’s unmistakable turkeys.

    Finally: Made in the Dark barely making the list? That’s kind of shameful.

  4. Anonymous

    Surprised The Academy Is made it to the list and Fall Out Boy didn’t. Does that mean FOB has a chance to make next years?

  5. Anonymous

    John Mellencamp higher than that Nick Cave album, really? And that infernal Duffy album? I suppose it balances out The Academy’s inclusion, though, which I am happy about.

  6. RaptorAvatar

    Does this mean that Santogold and Vampire Weekend have managed to officially become mediocre legacy acts with their first proper albums? Fuck me, the blogosphere really does speed things up…

  7. BigRicks

    I devour everything Ryan Adams puts out (for better or worse) but I’m pretty surprised to see it ranked as highly as it is (14). The John Mellencamp ranking (5) shouldn’t surprise a single person, Hot Chip (49) should be significantly higher, I’m pumped Ra Ra Riot (38) made it, that album is fantastic.

    @Varina: What’s your favorite track on Fast Times…, I’ve been pestering people about this for a while now. Every person I ask is different.

  8. scott pgwp

    @Chris Molanphy: My thoughts exactly.

    Man, that Paste list looks more and more cogent as every other magazine puts up their picks. This list is just sad. Actually I get the sense that the people writing this list wish they covered Paste’s demographic, but they’re forced to include mainstream rock and whatever the most popular blog bands are.

  9. R. Morast

    Stone staff: Jann, here’s the list of our top 50 records for 2008.

    Jann Wenner: What’s this shit? TV on the Radio? Santogold? Our readers are aging boomers. They don’t read the Web. We need the artists who are nestled in their nostalgia like Jackson Browne, Randy Newmand and The Coug.

    Stone staff: Really? Those artists put out some average or terrible records.

    Jann Wenner: Do it. I need to go lay some people off and then grease my hair. Oh, and put B.B. King high on the list. I was hanging with him last week. Cool guy.

  10. Anonymous

    @BigRicks: As of now, I know only two songs from the album (“Automatic Eyes” and “About a Girl”), but I’ve wanted to listen to the rest of it, in between being continuously gobsmacked by the prettiness of William Beckett.

  11. Marth

    Well, it’s a list alright.

  12. LiquidHeaven

    Jonas FUCKING Brothers? GTFO

  13. the rich girls are weeping

    @Marth: With records on it! Woah!

    I’m not usually one to harp on this kind of thing, but … six women (or woman-fronted acts) out of fifty. Woohoo! One gets the feeling Santogold is in the top 10 due to terrible tokenism.

  14. LiquidHeaven

    I think they must do the list in a way that you get 100 points and you can assign as many records as many points as you want up to 100 and David Fricke votes for 5 records at 20 points each:

    Kaiser Chiefs
    Mudcrutch
    GNR
    Blitzen Trapper
    Dylan

  15. bcapirigi

    @the rich girls are weeping: I always harp on that. It’s worth harping on.

    I’m surprised they didn’t include the Neil Diamond album, since a) he’s old, b) people actually bought it, and c) it’s pretty good.

  16. Lax Danja House

    They were always going to put Chinese Democracy on there. Fricke’s review of the album was so pathetically fawning that the only surprise is that it landed outside the top ten.

    That said, it is a quality album so stfu

  17. DocStrange

    I’m one of the few MMJ diehards who liked Evil Urges and even I think that #4 is too high. #30 would be perfectly acceptable.

  18. Poubelle

    @the rich girls are weeping: Yeah, as happy as I am to see her album place so highly, I can’t shake the feeling that that’s the reason why.

    Which sucks even more because Santogold’s album was so good.

  19. ObtuseIntolerant

    @LiquidHeaven: Hey now, put that away, the Jonas Brothers rule. In a noob-y way, perhaps, but they are (and will likely continue to be) great!!! Ah, pride.

  20. Nunya B

    @ObtuseIntolerant: Listen, I want to sex Joe as much as the next girl but there are a thousand albums that came out this year more worthy of that spot.

    Off the top of my head:

    Beach House
    Goldfrapp
    Lykke Li
    Ladyhawke

  21. Nunya B

    Also Made in the Dark blows.

  22. the rich girls are weeping

    @bcapirigi: Agreed about ND, too.

    @Poubelle: See, and I’m just kind of “meh…” about Santogold. I’m one of those annoying people who play the “I liked her better when…” card. I liked her better when she was working with Mark Ronson.

  23. Anonymous

    Even Rolling freaking Stone passed over the Drive-by Truckers? What’s wrong with the world?

  24. La Mareada

    @the rich girls are weeping: Or as writer/producer(?) for Res on How I Do.

  25. Anonymous

    oh lord. this list is just terrible. Jonas brothers? taylor swift? And if they wanted a “no, it’s actually a good comeback!” album, shouldn’t they have replaced GnR with britney or something?

    and the singles list might be even worst. A “get me bodied” B-side at number 1?!?!?!?!

  26. ObtuseIntolerant

    @Nunya B: Eh, I just disagree. They were the only thing especially exciting to me this year (not just sexy like) and I don’t think I was alone. Since this was my year of discovering pop and rejecting indie/hipster sounds that make my skin crawl for personal reasons, sooooo much of that other stuff makes me want to gnaw my arms off at the elbows in frustration….

    I just think it’s totally fair. It’s not like this list is or ever was “BEST” in some so-called “purely artistic” sense, which is anyway incredibly subjective and therefore an irrelevant way to rate since career phases and sh*t inevitably get factored in. No? So fair’s fair and I think they deserve it.

  27. Lucas Jensen

    @R. Morast: Are all Rolling Stone readers aging boomers really? I hear this a lot, but I don’t buy it for one second. When I taught eighth graders, lots of those kids read Rolling Stone.

  28. Chuck Eddy

    “John Mellencamp higher than that Nick Cave album, really? “

    Uh, maybe because Mellencamp’s boring ’08 album (which I panned in Blender, so I’m not defending the thing) at least didn’t sound the same as every other album he’s made since the late ’80s, like Nick Cave’s boring ’08 album did? Just a thought. (Mellencamp sounded boring in a recent-Dylan way, for whatever that’s worth.)

    Also, the Taylor Swift album is better than anything in the top 20 above. Jonas Brothers album is pretty close; I’d rank it about even with Santogold or Lil Wayne myself. (And both had several tracks way more alive than the one Lykke Li single and the one Ladyhawke single I’ve heard.)

    Plus, Jamey Johnson at #32 is cool (even if it should’ve been 31 places higher).

  29. Chuck Eddy

    The Knux at #28 also cool. (And yeah, conflict of interest alert, I do write for RS sometimes. But I didn’t have anything to do with this list. And bottom line, I don’t see how it’s any less accurate that any other list I’ve seen out there so far.)

    (Side question: What do The Academy Is… sound like? I just realized I have no idea. I’d totally hate them, right?)

  30. troutblood

    @Nunya B: I agree that it is kind of a bunch of bullshit that Lykke Li is not even in the top 50.

    Made In The Dark, however, does not quite blow.

  31. MrStarhead

    @JZ13: I subscribed to Rolling Stone from age 12 up through 21 or so, and then I realized how horrible it was. Several of my friends had similar experiences.

  32. Chris N.

    “I understand this went to press way before the album’s anemic first-week sales-and the even grimmer second-week numbers …”

    So if it had sold better, it would have been OK to like it?

  33. Chris N.

    Brad Pitt’s mustache is staring at me.

  34. Bjork Rhymes With Pork

    The problem is not that JW tinkerz with the list. The problem is his team of sycophants ACTUALLY BELIEVE Jackson Browne is making relevant music in 2008.

    And Chuck, I’m not so sure you would hate The Academy Is… They made the second best power pop album of the year (behind the Jonas Brothers).

  35. Chuck Eddy

    “second best power pop album of the year (behind the Jonas Brothers). “

    Ha ha, you obviously didn’t hear the Rick Springfield album (which was one of of the 10 best albums of 2008, period, and hence blew the Jonas Bros out of the water.) Reckless Kelly’s powerpop album (sneakily disguised as alt-country) and Beat Union’s powerpop album (sneakily disguised as, I dunno, Brit-pop that even Brits apparently had no use for) were pretty darn nifty, too. But if I have a chance (like, if a copy ever falls from the sky), I promise I’ll give The Academy Izzes a listen.

  36. Murk

    Yeah, these comments are inane. First of all, Taylor Swift put out one of the four or five best records of the year. Second of all, Randy Newman put out a great record this year. Third, the Jonas Brothers just aren’t that bad. I say this as someone whose top ten includes Flying Lotus, Fucked Up, Benga, & a bunch of other non-RS-approved records. Don’t get me wrong, RS is toilet paper. But to hate on country & teen-pop (without, I’ll bet, even having heard those records) is just to display your ignorance of how popular culture works. Here’s a news flash: it’s not only indie bands & select hip-hop artists who make good music. Some good music might even get made in (gasp) genres you don’t much care for (although I stress again that I doubt anyone whining about Taylor Swift knows the first thing about contemporary country music). Just shut your privileged little mouth & go listen to Bon Iver another four hundred times.

  37. Murk

    [The previous comment was directed at cptk1986; chachwitablog; LiquidHeaven; & R. Morast.]

  38. ObtuseIntolerant

    @Murk: You put that so much better than I did.

  39. Anonymous

    @Lucas Jensen: Funny, insightful comment. When I was in 8th grade I was definitely into Rolling Stone. So maybe it’s the mag for youngsters and oldsters, but for those in their middle years, with some sense in them, it’s horrid. That said, I’ll always owe RS for turning me on to Spiritualized via a positive review of Ladies and Gentlemen…

    @Michaelangelo Matos: Amen to that. Any singles list that includes “Sex on Fire” automatically tarnishes the other 99 songs on that list.

  40. LiquidHeaven

    I liked “Since U Been Gone,” I have “American Boy” on my list this year. Even an Anna Nalick song. I get pop but Jonas Brothers are not that good.

    You can beat your meat to their image all you want but keep the rest of us out of it.

  41. Murk

    OMG! Weird sexual hostility on the internet!

  42. Murk

    OMG! Weird sexual hostility on the internet!!

  43. Murk

    OMG! Double posting on the internet!!!

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