First “Best of 2008” Album List Very Wrong, Very White


paste_logo2.gifKids, this right here is more proof that sometimes it’s better to take it slow than rush to be first. Stereogum points out that Paste Magazine is the first major publication to drop their “Best Albums of 2008” list, and while there are some good and interesting albums all up and down it, the order (and the omissions) are kind of head-slapping. Here’s their Top 10:

10 Deerhunter – Microcastle (Kranky)
09 Lucinda Williams – Little Honey (Lost Highway)
08 Sun Kil Moon – April (Caldo Verde)
07 Girl Talk – Feed the Animals (Illegal Art)
06 Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes (Sub Pop)
05. Okkervil River – The Stand Ins (Jagjaguwar)
04. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago (Jagjaguwar)
03. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend (XL)
02. Sigur Rós – Med sud i eyrum vid spilum endalaust (XL)
01. She & Him – Volume One (Merge)

You read that right: She & Him, #1 album of the year. My current top two faves, TV on the Radio and Portishead, landed at #50 and nowhere, respectively. And we all know how I feel about Sigur Ros. But there’s something even more nefarious about this list, and that’s its blinding whiteness.

Out of all the Top 50, I count only five albums with non-white contributors: two by Santogold, and one each from Lil Wayne, Thao Nguyen, and the TV on the Radio guys. Of course, one could note that three of those had major involvement from white people as well. Musical taste, and lists of this sort, are, obviously, subjective, and I don’t mean to levy any charges of racism at the fine folks at Paste. But I will levy charges of closed-minded stupidity. If they had named this the Top 50 Folk Albums of the Year, I might be more sympathetic, but clearly they’re making a half-hearted attempt to be musically inclusive. It’s symbolic that Girl Talk’s Feed the Animals landed at #7: while it’s a fine album of attention-deficit mashup ridiculousness, capturing some of the euphoria of his live shows, it mostly features hip-hop vocals, so it’s by far the highest placement of any non-white contributors on their list, if you want to think of it that way. I guess Paste likes their hip-hop well enough, but only if it’s scrubbed clean of its original thumpiness and layered over some classic rock?

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