Last week, I received my copy of Rolling Stone's "Best of 00s" issue. The magazine features sections on the decades best songs and albums and things like that. So I read the entire edition cover to cover - because Rolling Stone has beautiful writing - but the feature left me mad.
The best of the best went to the same people Rolling Stone always picks: Bob Dylan, U2, Springsteen. I'm not denying that these are great, legendary acts...but come on. I'm certain the Rolling Stone editors picked the same artists as "the best" at the end of the 90s and the 80s too. Isn't there room for some new blood? Some innovators? Some metal?
I'll agree with the sections of the magazine that spoke about the recording industry imploding over the past decade - it sure did. When I finished college, everyone was still buying CDs by the truckload. We all know that is no longer the case.
For the best albums, Rolling Stone's "expert" panel selected a mix of rock and country and rap - anything them deemed worthy, which is fine. Again, I just feel like it was the same people over and over.
The panel selected Radiohead's Kid A as the number one album of the decade. The Strokes, Wilco, Jay-Z, The White Stripes, Arcade Fire, Eminem, Bob Dylan, M.I.A. and Kanye West rounded out the top ten.
Over and over, the magazine mentions the "return of guitar rock" over the past decade...but where is that reflected in the above bands? I mean, truly reflected. I'm aware Motley Crue was never going to make Rolling Stone's "best of" list...but that is guitar rock, no?
The "best songs of the decade" list isn't much better. The voting panel selected "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley as the best tune of the 00s. A whole lot of other crap made the top ten including "Seven Nation Army" (White Stripes), "Maps" (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and "Beautiful Day" (U2). I like U2 well enough - I just think "Beautiful Day" is one of the band's weaker tracks.
The looking-back segments are the best part of the special 00s edition of the magazine. We're reminded that the 00s gave us American Idol, the iPod and major American festivals like Lollapalooza. I''ll agree the iPod is the invention of the decade.
My main problem with Rolling Stone in general is that the magazine tries so painfully hard to be...hip. Why chase trends? Rolling Stone can afford to be above any trend. Just because a lot of whiny college kids like indie rock doesn't mean the rest of America - and the world - does. Nay, the rest of the world likes real rock and pop music. Crap that isn't so complicated it can't be enjoyed...or so pretentious it's unapproachable.
I've wanted to write for Rolling Stone since like...forever but the magazine always infuriates me. Would it be so criminal to do a real feature on the return of rock, dare I say Glam? A two sentence mention in the outdated news section doesn't count, either. There are real stories about money and middle America tied up in 80s bands that I could pitch until I'm blue in the face, but the editorial team doesn't care. I guess that's why print media is dying as more and more of us migrate online to talk about what we really like.
I guess I shouldn't be surprised or offended. Everyone knows the best music isn't played on the radio or on television - it isn't mainstream. We seek out what we like, so bands like Lynam and Crazy Lixx and Brother Firetribe may never make a Rolling Stone list...but that doesn't make them any less awesome.
You can read the special segments and check out the entire "best of" lists online at Rollingstone.com
Tomorrow - my top ten of 2009 and later this week...a look back at the best music over the past decade.