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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

Album of the Year & Song of the Year, parsed

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Everybody does this, right? Ranks, classifies, lists. Especially when it comes to music, everybody has their favorites and rates them in relation to everything else.

I do too, but my musical favorites have a pattern of all falling into place in the last week of December and the first weeks of January. If you're not familiar, that means that they come together as a result of reading everybody else's year-end best-of lists, acquiring those titles, and then forming opinions on them. It is the definition of reactive.

This year I decided to try an experiment. This year, instead of sitting around and waiting for the New Year's holiday to find the year's best music, I would find it myself. That is, I would spend all of 2009 discovering, purchasing (more on that in a moment), and sharing music.

**The insistence upon purchasing music came from the crash of my hard drive near the end of December, which resulted in the loss of lots and lots of music files. No bother, though: I hadn't paid a penny for any of those files. They were either "shared" with me through a File Transfer Protocol set up for like-minded musical friends or they were acquired through The Pirate Bay. What ended up bothering me about losing all that music, ironically, is that it didn't bother me. I hadn't invested anything in those songs and albums, and they could easily be replaced. But why spend the time and effort replacing them if they're not worth any actual investment to begin with? It was the realization that I was a lazy music fan that brought me to Jesus, as it were, in terms of quitting the file sharing. I don't want to waste time on music that could either come or go; if I lose it, I want to be upset about it.

That's the point of these "Album of the Year" posts. Something has happened halfway through the experiment that I didn't expect, though. I'm starting to become more discerning in terms of genres and the types of music I like, take it or leave it. I'm coming to the place where I can acknowledge that I have suburban top 40-bred musical receptors that make me susceptible to pop hooks. I used to be embarrassed about that, like if only I could learn to like Wilco I'd be a better person. But Wilco bores me, and I'm not afraid to admit that anymore.

But I am discovering affinities for things I didn't like before and waning patience for things I used to love. The solo soulful male vocal backed by acoustic guitars and sparing percussion, which used to inspire hours of shower singing, has come to seem thin (my apologies to Jamie Cullen and Dave Matthews).

Meanwhile, I'm participating in the emerging infrastructure of recorded music production, marketing, and sales, all of which, thanks to the internet, is driven largely by an ethic of sharing. As I identify records worthy of superlative consideration, I'm noting where I found them, because that's really what makes the effort worth it.

Thanks for reading. Watch for nominees soon.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 9:45 PM

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