I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately, so last night I went out of my way to stay up late to make sure I was good and tired before hitting the sack. To kill time, I caught up on my podcasts of NPR’s All Songs Considered. Podcasts are not usually my bag but I make an exception for this one (and for TMBG) because I’ve been listening to it since 1998 or so, back in the dawn of mp3s, and because it’s introduced me to some interesting music.
The most recent edition of All Songs Considered was one of those time-honored traditions of popular media: the yearly “Top 10 Best…” list. This time—duh—it was the Top 10 Albums of 2006, as voted by the NPR listeners…
I’m an NPR listener. I’m even a listener-supporter when the mood takes me and the budget allows. And it’s probably safe to say that I’m a music fan (considering that at least eight hours of my average day are spent listening to it). But this Top 10 list is a virtual mystery to me. There are two albums on it with which I’m familiar:
Tom Waits’ Orphans (which I love love love) and The Crane Wife by The Decemberists, of which I’m not very fond. Aside from that the Top 10 albums of 2006 are unknown to me.
That doesn’t bother me. I don’t mind that I don’t know the music since the great part of All Songs Considered is that they’ll play some of it for you. That is, after all, the point of the show. No, what most disturbed me is that with the exception of Orphans I didn’t like any of the Top 10 albums from this past year. None of ’em. Diddly + squat. The lyrics were interesting enough for some of the songs played but the tunes themselves were dull. Rather than piercing my consciousness and piquing my interest the music would approach my perception and then slide off its surface, barely leaving a ripple. Nothing appealing there for me.
I admit that I’m feeling (self-inflicted) societal peer pressure to want to like this music. After all, according to NPR listeners this is the best that 2006 has to offer. And am I not, as mentioned above, an NPR listener? Has my listener cred suffered a heinous blow by not liking the music of my peer group? How can I ever again look another NPR listener in the eye, knowing that his eye and mine don’t meet on the musical level? Oh, the ignominy of the musical minority! Perhaps if I just make myself enjoy these albums I can feel comfortable in my liberal NPR surroundings. Maybe I, too, can belong to the sophisticated music listeners of the area. I can be one of the cool kids. All I need to do is like The Decemberists.
No, I’m not really all that traumatized by this; I’m just making a mountain out of a mole hill for entertainment value and dramatic effect. But I am intrigued by how few of the “best” albums actually appeal to me. Makes a gal feel as though music has passed her by, ya know?