Friday, May 23, 2008


And so it ends.

It's been 51 weeks since I started this project. It started as a test of baby boomer logic and my own discipline and it ends as a repudiation of the former and a confirmation of the latter.

I made it through the entire list, though somewhere my piece for "Armed Forces" got lost in the Internet. I'll rewrite it within the next week. Nevertheless, I got through about 490 records (after considering help from Padraig, Taft and Ellen) in under a year.

What did I learn? I learned that this type of list is ridiculous. We live in a culture wherein we rank everything constantly for no reason other than we need to fill column inches and TV time. The Web has followed suit with a constant barrage of 10 best this and 10 best that. It's an odd cultural entry to a variety of content, which is good. But, it also discourages serious criticism and analysis.

Gone are the days of the pullout stories and in its place are shorter pieces. I'm not one of the dinosaurs who laments these stories; this is the nature of information in 2008. I'm cool with that. Hell, I'm a Web producer by profession. But, I do appreciate great in-depth writing and we have lost a lot of that in the mainstream press.

Of course, I'm a total hypocrite being that none of my reviews are particularly in depth. But my point is mostly that these lists are an easy way to generate a lot of copy.


I mentioned above that the list has problems with the term "great." Like the MVP in sports, "great" is essentially meaningless. It could mean influence on other bands, it could mean records sold, it could mean groundbreaking sounds. It could mean any combination of those factors.

I've spoken a little about records that need to be on the list in lieu of some of the lesser albums (Quicksilver Messenger Service, for example). I'll just throw some more out there now with the caveat that this list is horrible incomplete.

  1. Something by Mariah Carey. If only because Carey's vocal style is the most imitated in all of music. If Whitney Houston is there, Mariah needs to be there.

  2. Anything by Garth Brooks or the Dixie Chicks. Country music, especially popular country, is wildly popular and not represented on the list.

  3. Any music not from Britain or the U.S. This is a little more abstract, as the list doesn't make any claims about putting "world music" on it, whereas there are definitely jazz and country records there. Still, it'd be nice to see some Fela Kuti on there.

  4. More jazz. Simple as that.

  5. Anything by the Foo Fighters. I actually don't like the Foo Fighters, but I do think they're one of the bigger bands of the past 15 years and at least as important as the last few Springsteen and Dylan records on the list.

  6. Something by Tupac Shakur. Tupac is rightly considered one of hip hop's greatest MCs and he is not represented on this list.

This is not counting my particular bent of having more indie rock and metal on the list (two genres I enjoy).


So... What now?

Despite suggestions, I am not going to tackle another list anytime soon. No AFI movie list, no RS 500 songs list. It's just too much work in too little time for me.

I haven't finalized what I'll do, going forward. I've got some ideas, but in the interim, I'll simply be writing some small reviews like the unlisted stuff from this site.

Obviously, thanks to everyone who has read, commented and helped with the project. It has been a blast and I've learned a ton.


Mister8a said...

Thank you so much for doing this. I really admire your tenacity in this project. And although I don't agree with everything you wrote, I have enjoyed reading your reviews. It has been really fun to follow your reviews over these 51 weeks.


Anonymous said...

I'll give you the Blade Runner kudo:

"You've done a man's job, sir."

Between the end of this project and the basketball season almost being over, I'm not sure how I'm going to burn up my employer's time everyday on the internet, but there's one less place I know about now with interesting, well-written content each day. Nice work!

SoulBoogieAlex said...

Thanks for all the effort that went into this blog. I have a feeling I'll be browsing through this site quite a bit in the future. I still feel your comments on Springsteen are ridiculous though ;-)

Bar L. said...

Wow, I'll miss this. I didn't comment much but I read! I think you did a "great" job with this :)

bob_vinyl said...

Congratulations on completing this task. While I know you had to sit through some stinkers (I'm not directly refering to In Utero) and a lot of albums that didn't fit your tastes, I'm sure you found at least a few gems in there. I think I have a decent knowledge of rock music and yet I learned quite a bit as I read. Thanks for all the work you put into this. Sorry again for hijacking your MC5 post and turning it into a Nirvana debate.

Unknown said...

Thanks a lot, man.

I'm actually not sure definitely why I should be thanking you, since you started this project not for people like me but rather for yourself (which I'm totally cool with. I might do that someday.).

However, your synopses have kind of opened my eyes to a lot of GREAT music. Some sucky music too, but, well, c'est la vie.

I've tried to go through some of RS's list looking for really great music--with varying degrees of success--but have mainly found that it's really tedious to look up reviews to see if RS is just being weird on their rankings, and that sometimes RS just kinda blows.

I've come to trust your judgement very much over the past, oh I dunno, 4ish months (?) of reading your list. So much so that I decided to check out a band I'd never heard of, Mogwai, buy Young Team, and actually love the brilliance of pure instrumental rock (art rock, i suppose), something I'd never really cared for before.

As an unintended consequence, you've actually had an impact on my life. A significant one. Not really you personally; the things you recommended. And for that I thank you. Peace man.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, it's been fun checking in every so often. To quote Triumph: "You did a great, great job..."


Tiger said...

I've been a reader of this blo for some time now, and I appreciate it a lot even if I disagree with most of the reviews. That's because I now have a blog where I review things, which was started in January soon after I read this. I know how much time you must have put into this blog now that I have one of my own.

Thanks a lot for doing this.

Bree said...

Hey, dunno how I came across your blog, but I've been checking in from time to time. I love that you did this. I appreciate your being open about your biases, and I think the formidable task you set for yourself in reviewing the RS 500 list benefitted a lot from your determination, your true love of music, and your nicely conceived structure of sticking to the best song/worst song/ why RS got it right and wrong/and the essential question of "awesomeness." As a few people have said, we may disagree on a few records, but I can't claim that I'm remotely as disciplined as to make an honest effort to appreciate all those albums from artists I've never cared to investigate before (for whatever my own biased reason might be.)

Congrats! And please keep us posted if you start any new
online projects.


kellydwyer said...

Great job, Ross. Enjoyed the hell out of it.

Anonymous said...

At any point during this process, did you realize that the list was compiled by a vote from a huge list of industry experts, not by the Rolling Stone editors?

Apparently not. Oh well. Good effort!

dmcinth said...

I'm sure someone has explained to you by now that this list was voted on by a group of diverse (though possibly not diverse enough)group of over 300 people who work in some capacity of the music industry.

This explains the amount of redundancy on the list as well as the placement of records even the RS editors might've been scratching their heads over. So this greatly changes one's perspective of the list.

With that said, thank you for doing this. This project is not only impressive but all your insights (on here and your other blog) have been very helpful and important over the past year or so in learning about and discovering new music. SO keep it up.