Year-End-Wrap-Up Hooey

Each year beginning in late November, every magazine, every fanzine, every website, every group of people numbering more than two grouped around a CD player, starts up with the exercise in sound and fury known as The Year In Review, or the Year-End Wrap-U p, or This Year's Top Ten ThisorThat. I find these tiresome. It's not just that it's obvious the listmakers couldn't possibly have heard every dang recording released during the past year; it's not just the know-it-all smugness that implies they have; it's not just the fact that the bands pushed most industriously by promoters and hyped by journalists -- "buzz bands" -- are the ones that show up with depressing regularity on Year End Best Of Lists by self-styled iconoclasts; it's not just the sort of bean counter mentality that draws a line at ten, or twenty, or even fifty BEST of everything produced worldwide within the past 365 days; it's not just the listmakers' self-congratulatory air of having performed some difficult feat of sorting and ranking; it's not just that the magical number TEN that comes up most often in Year-In-Review lists happens to coincide with the number of fingers occuring in homo sapiens - a telling coincidence, if you ask me; it's not just that once you've got your ten best, the infitesimal difference in supposed quality between them is about as bogus as the microteensy fractions of a second between an Olympic Gold and Olympic Silver; it's not just that everybody who makes one of these lists says stuff like "it sure was hard making a list of just ten," or "this is my Ten Best now, but ask me to pick them again next week and the list will be all different," leading one to wonder why they don't publish something called "My Weekly Top Ten" and be done with it; it's not just that everybody and his sister has a Top Ten to flog, leading inevitably to Top Ten Burnout; it's not just that after everybody and her brother has belched out their Top Ten Best, along comes the joker who makes the lists of CDs "overlooked" by the rest of the Best-Of lists (now there's a study in one-upmanship); it's not just that I could give a hoo-haw whether an album comes out the month before or two weeks after the magical 1st of January; It's not just -

Well, actually, that just about covers it.

--Cheryl Cline

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