Music lists: a staple in any rock lover’s heart

By by Justin Jacobs

‘ ‘ ‘ There are few things a music fan loves more than lists … besides music, of course. ‘ ‘… ‘ ‘ ‘ There are few things a music fan loves more than lists … besides music, of course. ‘ ‘ ‘ We list the best guitar solos of all time. We list which front men had the best hair and which drummers were the drunkest. We list the most influential records, the most important moments and the best concerts. ‘ ‘ ‘ Hell, I’m sure some rock fiend out there before me has listed the Five Best Songs from the Worst Canadian Rock Stars To Make it Big in the States Between 1990 and 1999 ‘mdash; which, of course would be, in ascending order of song quality, not overall artist awfulness: ‘ ‘ ‘ 5. ‘My Heart Will Go On’ by Celine Dion (Much better after it stopped being on the radio every 18 seconds. Honestly). ‘ ‘ ‘ 4. ‘MMM MMM MMM MMM’ by Crash Test Dummies (Clever and catchy if nothing else). ‘ ‘ ‘ 3. ‘Brian Wilson’ by Barenaked Ladies (Face it, ‘One Week’ was annoying) ‘ ‘ ‘ 2. ‘Leader of Men’ by Nickelback (To date, the first and only Nickelback song that doesn’t make me want to go deaf. It also, interestingly, was the band’s first hit. They sucked about 98 percent less pre-fame). ‘ ‘ ‘ 1.’You’re Still the One’ by Shania Twain (I can’t help it, the video was hot). ‘ ‘ ‘ Some rock obsessives have even gone so far as to make lists of lists. In 2004, British rock magazine Q put out an issue listing the 150 best lists about rock ‘n’ roll. This is some complex stuff. ‘ ‘ ‘ Just this week, Rolling Stone released its list of the 100 Best Singers (presumably of the rock era), which is topped off with the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin, and ends with the deserving Mary J. Blige. The issue is just the latest Rolling Stone list with such rankings ‘mdash; the magazine has already compiled its take on the 500 Best Records, 500 Best Songs and 100 Best Guitarists. And like all rock lists, all of them were fraught with mistakes. ‘ ‘ ‘ But herein lies the magic of lists. For any music head, few conversation topics are more engaging than debating over the quality of every aspect of said music. Is Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes as good a lyricist as Bob Dylan? (No.) Did the grittiness of the Black Keys suffer after hiring Danger Mouse to produce? (Yes.) What is the perfect number of beers to consume in order to best enjoy a Hold Steady concert? (As many as you can drink and remain standing.) ‘ ‘ ‘ Lists, then, give us natural fodder to discuss and tear apart. They provide us with arbitrary and all-but-meaningless rankings to agree with and defend ‘mdash; or disagree with, curse to hell and propose a more correct ranking. ‘ ‘ ‘ Sound fun? No? Well, that’s probably why people tend to avoid talking to me for more than three or four minutes at a time. ‘ ‘ ‘ You might ask, why can’t you just enjoy the music without having to rank it? ‘ ‘ ‘ I’d answer that you just don’t understand fun. I’d then correctly guess that your Facebook account lists your favorite music as ‘Everything! Except country!!’ ‘ ‘ ‘ Rock lists also serve as a trial by fire when first talking to a friend. Want to know how much New Guy Chuck knows about your favorite genre? Ask him about what he thinks are the top three second wave emo bands. If he answers The Promise Ring, Texas is the Reason and Sunny Day Real Estate you’ve got a new friend for endless music banter. ‘ ‘ ‘ Congratulations ‘mdash; you’re one more person away from having to talk about anything of substance! ‘ ‘ ‘ When we boil list loving down, it’s simply human nature to categorize the things we adore. Just like everything in your room has a certain place, so too do the Top Four Instrumental Post-Rock Bands To Listen to While Doing Homework, which, of course, would be: 1. Explosions in the Sky, 2. Sigur Ros, 3. Godspeed! You Black Emperor and 4. Mogwai. ‘ ‘ ‘ Putting our music in categories, moreover, gives us some ownership of the things that we love so dearly. My list will always be different from your list. That’s just the way it goes ‘mdash; we all like different things, and examining why each of us value different music to varying degrees can tell us things about other people we could never find out by simply talking. ‘ ‘ ‘ For example, I know my girlfriend’s Five Favorite Vocalists are 1. Anthony Green of Circa Survive, 2. John Gourley of Portugal. The Man, 3. Davey Von Bohlen of The Promise Ring , 4. Tim Kasher of Cursive and 5. Christina Aguilera. Did I ask her? Nope ‘mdash; you just learn these things from paying attention. And even though that last one is pretty lame, the power of the list is strong with her. ‘ ‘ ‘ To site the title of the third best song on the third best album by Alkaline Trio, ‘This Could Be Love.’