Best Of The Artist, Best Of The Year?

Bon Jovi, Alan Jackson, the Dixie Chicks, P!nk, and Blake Shelton.

Not all of these people released albums of original material in 2010, but they all made appearances on various Top 10 lists compiled by the Leader-Post‘s Jeff DeDekker, through their “Best of” albums. “[A] a number of lists – from a multitude of informed sources,” as DeDekker says.

How did they manage this feat? Well, some of the LP‘s “informed sources” chose Greatest Hits compilations from these artists as one of their ten favorite albums of the year.

This honestly never occurred to me. I don’t get around to buying a lot of Best Ofs these days, but when I do, I generally associate the music with the year each song was released then the year the actual compilation was put out. If I were to pull out Bon Jovi’s Greatest Hits, for example, even if the album was released this year, each of the songs still belong so specifically to their distinct times.

“Livin’ on a Prayer”, then, can’t be a 2010 track. No matter where it appears otherwise, its proper place is back in 1986 on Slippery When Wet.

A part of me recognizes that this is an arbitrary distinction to make. Albums can be recorded a long time before they’re released, and songs can be made years apart from one another. What winds up on the LP isn’t necessarily intended to be a cohesive unit. Plus, a lot of albums mostly made up of original material can feature material previously released on singles or EPs or tracks that have been rerecorded.

Claiming the higher ground in making these lists is also suspect, as these lists are great journalistic achievements. John Roderick, frontman for the Long Winters, recently wrote a column for the Seattle Weekly about the flaws inherent to these lists. “How can one released in January and one released in December compare to each other?” he says in one of his ten points. (“Top 10 Reasons I Hate Year-End Top-10 Lists” – Cute, right?)

Regardless, Top 10s are still useful, at least for looking back and getting an idea of where the culture was at for the year. For instance, if someone were to look at the upcoming results of the Pazz and Jop poll to see what 2010 was like in music, they’ll probably be able to see that critics really, really loved Kanye. On a personal level, I can look back at my list from 2005 and see that I was starting in my obsession for Okkervil River; that I still loved the New Pornographers; and that my crush on P.J. Harvey extended to her work on Marianne Faithful’s album from that year.

So then what’s the point of including Greatest Hits in your Top 10s? It’s music you’ve probably already heard; far too often, in the case of an artist like P!nk. Dropping a Best of into your list is unimaginative and creatively bankrupt, and pointless to boot. Why do it?

Author: James Brotheridge

Contributing Editor with Prairie Dog.

13 thoughts on “Best Of The Artist, Best Of The Year?”

  1. I’d be more intrigued (and pleasantly surprised) if the Regina Leader-Post did a list of favourite 2010 recordings and concerts by Regina artists.

  2. Um, if you’re making a list of the BEST albums of any particular year and don’t include albums that are, in fact, the BEST of any particular artist, you have failed.

  3. Emmet:

    It’s quite arguable that, regardless of how the songs on a Best of work together, that they aren’t really the best songs of the current year. Their time has passed.

    Plus, what am I going to do: every time, say, a new Bruce Springsteen comp comes out, it tops my list? That’s pretty boring if you ask me.

  4. We need a list of the best Best Of albums and a list of the best Greatest Hits albums, and then we should make them fight.

  5. Listing greatest hits packages on a year-end best-of is a total “comp” out if you get my meaning

  6. Arrrrrrrgh! The man with two IP addresses strikes again! You should really just pick a handle and stick with it. How about A.W.?

  7. Most of the people who submitted their year-end lists work for the Leader Post and Regina Radio. ‘Nuff said.

    When Gerry Krochak was still with the LP, he would ask some people that actually listened to lots of music (musicians, record store geeks, etc)… not just people who work for Z99.

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with Greatest Hits albums… but they definitely don’t belong in the same class as studio albums. Including them in your year-end lists is pretty lazy and just shows how little new music you actually listen to.

  8. Frankly, I prefer the creativity behind picking stupid fake handles, but if a person wants to remain anonymous, just stopping in every once in a while to fill the vaccuum and nothing more, then I guess that’s what “anonymous” is for. Like me.

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