I’m posting my “Best of 2008” list tomorrow. As with some other years I’ll acknowledge that my “best of” list isn’t really an attempt to fulfill that claim. What I mean is that while it’d be nice to be so full of myself to think that what essentially is just my opinion, it’s just that, my opinion. Furthermore, ask me every day from now through next March or April and my list will probably be different every day. So what my list will be tomorrow is my “Favorite releases of 2008 when compiled on December 9, 2008”, but that’s not a very good title, is it? We’ll fib a little and call it “Best of”, okay?
Hatin’ on and talking about best-of lists
It really seems this is the year for spending as much time talking about year-end lists as making them. Idolator asks if they’re necessary at all . Pretty Goes With Pretty asks if one trusts year end list makers. This ILX thread posts lists of lists and dissects them. (Largeheartedboy is also collecting a list of lists.)
Finally, Chris at Pretty Much Amazing recommends a pretty compelling set of rules that list makers should abide by.
Mistakes I knew I was making
Last year, on my best releases list, I didn’t put the Lightning Bug Situation’s A Leaf, a Stream in my top 12, but I did call it the most likely to have me kicking myself for not putting it on this best list once I have enough time to sit down and really listen to it. I was right. It’s a great album.
Mistakes I didn’t know I was making (How past lists hold up)
In an article here, BG asks if what “best of” lists mean if a year later people don’t listen to the albums any more and calls on people to share their past lists with an honest assessment of how much one’s past lists hold up. Well here’s my assessment of my past lists. I do think that how much I listen to something doesn’t correlate 100% with how good it is. For instance, I still think Illinois is a great album, but it doesn’t require constant listening, either.
Bold means I listen to it frequently
* means I listen to it occasionally.
Plain means I listen to it pretty infrequently or not at all.
- Or, the Whale – Light Poles and Pines*
- Magnolia Electric Co. – Sojourner (box set)*
- the National – Boxer*
- Candie Payne – I Wish I Could Have Loved You More
- Morning Benders – Boarded Doors (EP)*
- Kanye West – Graduation
- Jens Lekman – Night Falls over Kortedala
- Kings of Leon – Because of the Times
- On No! Oh My! – Between the Devil and the Sea (EP)
- Andrew Bird – Armchair Apocrypha*
- Benni Hemm Hemm – Kajak
- John Vanderslice – Emerald City
- Fionn Regan – The End of History
- Beirut- Gulag Orkestar
- the Long Winters – Putting the Days to Bed*
- Bishop Allen – Month EPs
- Sufjan Stevens – Avalanche
- Girl Talk – Night Ripper*
- Damien Jurado – And Now That Iâ€™m in Your Shadow*
- Cat Power – The Greatest
- David Bazan – Fewer Moving Parts
- Eric Bachmann – To the Races*
- Hold Steady – Boys and Girls in America
- Elvis Perkins – Ash Wednesday*
- Sufjan Stevens – Illinois*
- Sigur Ros – Takk
- Mates of State – All Day
- John Vanderslice – Pixel Revolt
- The Mountain Goats – the Sunset Tree*
- Jose Gonzalez – Veneer*
- Crooked Fingers – Dignity and Shame*
- Early Day Miners – All Harm Ends Here
- Iron & Wine – Woman King [EP]
- Death Cab for Cutie – Plans
- Sun Kil Moon – Tiny Cities
- Bright Eyes – I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning
- 13 & God – s/t*
- Low – the Great Destroyer
- Bruce Springsteen – Devils & Dust
[from a combined list of best albums, shows, and movies]
- Iron & Wine – Our Endless Numbered Days*
- Arcade Fire – Funeral
- Sufjan Stevens – Seven Swans
- Elliott Smith – From a Basement on a Hill
 You can ask how I can make a best of list with 22 days left in the year. It’s actually pretty reasonable, I think: critics invented a game and labels play it. If they want an album to be considered for year end lists, labels will release it by the end of November, often by the end of October. It’s like Oscar contenders are often released right at the end of the year to make sure they’re fresh in the Academy’s mind.
 The Idolator post is at least as noteworthy for the great video they post as for the discussion.