Thursday, December 31, 2009

June 3, 2003: Nexus of the decade’s ‘best’

One of the first things I noticed as the best-of-the-2000s lists started piling up was that they were leaning toward the first half of the decade; in fact, with Kid A, Stankonia (both 2000), White Blood Cells, Is This It (2001) and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002) looking dominant, they were skewing way early. I wondered: What was the center of gravity for all these lists? Could it be pinpointed to the year, the month, the day?

To find this sweet spot, I compiled 61 lists from a range of sources — mainstream glossies, daily papers, big bloggers, lesser bloggers — and found the average vintage for each top 10; those numbers are below. (Why 61? Because that seemed like enough.) Then I averaged those 61 to come up with a composite number, which would represent the overall average of every top 10 list, the point in time around which they all revolved.

And that resulting number is 2003.421, which corresponds to the 154th day of the year, or June 3, 2003.

What happened on June 3, 2003, to draw this critical convergence? Not much. The lead story in the Times was the laughable “Five Arab Leaders Vow Active Fight Against Violence.” Amelia Vega from the Dominican Republic won Miss Universe. Sammy Sosa was ejected from a game for a corked bat. Yawn.

Interestingly, however, June 3 was a Tuesday, the day new albums are released. Which means that the albums released that day are, arithmetically and astrologiaclly, the real greatest of the 2000s, replacing Kid A, the Strokes, yadda yadda:

Jewel, 0304
John Mellencamp, Trouble No More (his blues standards album)
Simply Red, Home (track 2: “Fake”)
Sugar Ray, In the Pursuit of Leisure
Train, My Private Nation

Have a nice decade!

Observer Music Monthly: 2003.4
The A/V Club: 2002.2
Rolling Stone: 2002.3
Paste: 2003.4
Paste readers: 2004.2
NME: 2002.7
Entertainment Weekly: 2002.9
Gorilla vs. Bear: 2003.2
FACT: 2004.3
Pitchfork: 2001.6
Pop Tarts Suck Toasted: 2003.0
Spinner: 2003.1
Times of London: 2003.6
Vice: 2004.4
Gigwise: 2003.3
eMusic: 2003.7
Daily Mail Online: 2004.1
Complex: 2002.8
Uncut: 2003.6
Newark Star-Ledger (Jay Lustig): 2004.2
I Guess I’m Floating: 2003.3
Blogcritics: 2003.2
Associated Press (Nekesa Mumbi Moody): 2003.4
Billboard: 2002.7 2002.7
PopEater: 2004.3
Rock’s Backpages (subscription required): 2003.9
Newsweek: 2004.9
J. Mensah’s Billboard Files: 2003.0
Metacritic: 2003.3
Decibel: 2001.6
Consequence of Sound: 2002.9
Fast ’n’ Bulbous: 2003.2
Musicophilia: 2004.6
LMNOP: 2003.9
Grand Rapids Press (John Sinkevics): 2003.5
Grand Rapids Press (Troy Reimink): 2002.7
The Sandman Chronicles (“voted by 77 Greek bloggers”): 2003.0
Rhapsody: 2003.4
American Songwriter
: 2002.9
Glide: 2003.8
The Remote View: 2004.4
Stereogum: 2003.0
The Line of Best Fit: 2005.3
Memphis Flyer (parts 1, 2, 3, 4): 2002.3
The Journal: 2004.6
Irish Times: 2004.5
Metromix (Denver): 2004.0
The Truth Hurts: 2003.3
Better Propaganda: 2003.6
Popdose: 2003.0
Time Out New York: Steve Smith, 2002.6; Sophie Harris, 2002.8; Hank Shteamer, 2003.7; Jay Ruttenberg, 2003.4; Colin St. John, 2003.4
Creative Loafing: 2004.4
The Faster Times (Fred Wilson): 2003.0
BET: 2004.9
Jonk Music: 2003.6
The War on Pop: 2003.3


Jen Sorensen said...

Good lord, these lists suck. (At least, the ones I've looked at.) Here's mine:

B. said...

Oh, also, I forgot to mention:

For those who like to keep track of such things, the list with the most current music was The Line of Best Fit, at 2005.3. Pitchfork and Decibel were tied for oldest, at 2001.6.

And only seven lists included albums from 2009: Paste (Avett Brothers), I Guess I'm Floating (Animal Collective), Blogcritics (Phoenix), Musicophilia (Flaming Lips), John Sinkevics of The Grand Rapids Press (Them Crooked Vultures), Hank Shteamer of Time Out New York (Propagandhi) and Jonk Music (Grizzly Bear).

Soundslike said...

Interesting idea, nice number-crunching--and impressively geeky on multiple fronts. I'm surprised the bastion of all things hip (Pitchfork) came in as the most conservative or at least most "I like their earlier work better" list maker. And given that I thought I'd checked out almost totally around 2002, I'm surprised my blog was one of the less it-was-better-back-when lists.

I was shocked to see my little blog included, but it made sense once I read "lesser bloggers" : )

To try to do something like this for the 70s would be almost impossible, and I'd have to use a much bigger sample (Top 100 or so), but I'd be fascinated to see where it came out--all averaged, I'd have to guess around 1974.5

Robert said...

...but where is the asymptote?

Você é o rei do Universo, meu bom amigo.