August 30, 2005

In which I decline a meme, verbosely.

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at August 30, 2005 12:58 PM

There's this meme going around where you go here, type the year of your high school graduation into the search box, and get the list of top 100 songs that year. Then you indicate the ones you liked and hated. Given music tastes of the other bloggers I read, this meme tends to devolve into a claim that the list in question is a milestone in unbelievably crappy music. My only participation here is to note that 1997 distinguishes itself with an especially bad top ten, and when #11 and #12 are included you pretty much have songs that are on heavy rotation in hell itself. After that the list is mostly just mediocre with some actual good songs mixed in.

Anyway, it seems like the three categories (liked/hated/don't care) in most implementations of this meme are insufficient. Were I to mark up the entire list (which I'm not, because I'm lazy busy! At work!), I would use the following four classifications:

  1. Songs I haven't heard, don't care about, or don't recognize from the title/artist.
  2. Songs I might have liked, except everyone was playing them my freshman year at college and I got really sick of them.
  3. Songs I dislike.
  4. Songs I hate with the intensity of a thousand burning suns. A single strikethrough line is insufficient for something like R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly;" I need something like a mushroom cloud I can superimpose on the list.

I can't argue that 1997 was the worst year, as Scott Lemieux's list from 1990 clearly trumps mine in awfulness. I did start to wonder if every year would, taken on its own, look especially bad, since we forget about all these mass-produced songs that are ubiquitous for a few months and then (thankfully) vanish forever. To prove this theory, I decided to look at a year from an era that supposedly produced a lot of great music: The Top 100 Songs of 1968.

Wow. Those... those are actually pretty good. Damn.

Tags: Lists, Music
Comments

Well, my high school grad year was 1992.

#2 on the charts was "Baby Got Back."

'nuff said?

*for the record, the crappy music was just one of the many good reasons I did not attend my senior prom.

Posted by: Mortaine | August 30, 2005 1:06 PM

I just checked out 1971, and there were some pretty good songs that year ("Maggie May" and "It's Too Late" being among my all time favorites) along with the Osmonds and assorted trash. Then I scrolled down and whom do I see at number 100, right behind the Doors (Riders on the Storm)?

Perry Fucking Como.

Not where I grew up.

Posted by: Dad | August 30, 2005 1:07 PM

1996: 1. Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix), Los Del Rio case closed

Posted by: shellock | August 30, 2005 1:52 PM

The question, then, is when this decline occured.

I do note that some of the songs on the 1968 list are total stinkers. "La-la means I love you" is not a great song. Which still gets air time.

Posted by: Wren | August 30, 2005 2:46 PM

Hmmm... so I actually like some of his so-called 'really appalling' songs from 1990.

Let's see...1994...three Ace of Base songs in the top 10. I am in the minority who like that group, although those 3 songs were played sooooooo much that I very soon stopped liking them as much as I originally did. (I still like them a little.) For most people, this statistic would probably kill the whole year's worth of music.

The first truly awesome song on this list is 33 (Return to Innocence), and some of the ones right after that are good as well (10000 Maniacs is definitely a plus!).

Of course, the main thing this seems to say is that my tastes had already diverted from what was popular by that point. Most of the songs there that I liked were ones played on "alternative" (etc) stations and/or were by groups who were (potentially) far more popular in the 80s.

As a test, I looked up a really awesome year in music (1985) and I indeed see much more stuff I like (Like a Virgin at #2, Everybody Wants to Rule the World at #7, etc.) but even in years with awesome music like this, we still have Wham! with the #1 and #3 songs... I basically remember my awesome years as the number of great songs I like from then independent of how much crap they were floating in, and I imagine many others do as well.

Oh, and Tarzan Boy was the #73 song in 1986. :)

Posted by: Mason | August 30, 2005 3:28 PM

Mason: Now I have Tarzan Boy stuck in my head.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | August 30, 2005 3:41 PM

Excellent!

Posted by: Mason | August 30, 2005 3:54 PM

you know, even the year I was born (1978) has better music than the year that we graduated high school...I stopped looking after those two years... I just don't care that much!

Posted by: kitkat | August 30, 2005 5:58 PM

Wren: The 1971 list is already starting to show some decay, so I'm guessing the early 70's are to blame.

Mason: Forgot to mention this in my previous comment, but I will admit to being pro-Ace of Base. (There's only so much music snobbery I can indulge in, and this post has put me way past my quota already.)

kitkat: There's some serious disco on that 1978 list. Not that this is a bad thing; #80, for instance, was used to great effect on the Kill Bill soundtrack.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | August 30, 2005 6:08 PM

This post is actually very interesting and quite similar to a recent post on my blog:

Posted by: Sylvain | September 11, 2005 7:59 AM

That last comment appears to be spam, posted by a robot, linking to a blog that's written by a robot and makes posts by stealing content from other websites. It's not obvious what the commercial upside is. This strikes me as very, very strange, and so I am leaving the spam comment as an especially interesting specimen.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | September 11, 2005 2:19 PM
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