1. Should I base my list on what I listened to most in the year?
2. Should it be based on the 10 records that are still my favorites at this particular point...or should it be the 10 that were my favorites at various points throughout the year?
3. Or, should I be ranking the albums in terms of their overall artistic achievement?
Don't get me wrong, this isn't something that keeps me lying awake every night, but these questions always do come into play when I start to compile my list.
Obviously, it's impossible to track exactly what records one listens to the most, but usually it's fairly easy to guess which 3 or 4 records you've listened to most. So...should a record that you played the hell out of in the Spring still go in top 10 even though you're now sick of it and haven't listened to it since?
Alternately, let's say that record was a pop-album guilty pleasure...Even though it had significantly less artistic merit than some of the more avant-garde selections on your list, it still was a personal favorite and you listened it far more than most anything else. Does it still warrant a top spot or should it be knocked down off the list simply because the songs were simple three-minute, three chord wonders?
After these thoughts swirl around in my head for a while and I write and re-write about 5 different versions of my list, my heart usually prevails and I settle on the top 10 that are simply my favorites after all the dust settles.
First of all, while artistic achievement is certainly a factor in judging what was the "best" of the year... at the end of the day, it's really about the impact that the music made on you. Doesn't matter if it's low-brow, high-brow or somewhere in-between. If it rocked you're world, it should go on the top of the list.
Second, I'm not a rock critic...so no need to overanalyze things.
Third, after the initial impression or impact that an album has on you, I think longevity is almost as important in determining the value of a piece of art. When something is new, it's real easy to get excited about it and want to spend a lot of time with it. However, it takes something extra special to stand the test of time. Therefore, I think the "best" of the year should be the albums that still sound great on January 1 and still make you want to listen again and again.
Stay tuned on Monday for the beginning of my official top ten (or will it be 15?) Also, still plenty of time to submit your ten ten lists...keep 'em coming at firstname.lastname@example.org