SPIN-ning around

i remember being a regular SPIN magazine subscriber in high school. i think it was right around the time that they released their “90 best albums of the 90s” that i started to read them regularly, often enjoying their cover interviews, reviews, and 40 most interesting artists of the now or whatever the hell that feature was. bear in in mind that this was before i had regular access to the internet.

as i moved onto college and into the world of online music journalism, i canceled my subscription, finding their focus shift farther and farther from artists that interested me and and finding myself perplexed and even put off by their increasingly idiosyncratic list making (don’t get me started on that greatest bands of all time debacle. you know, the one with KISS on the cover?).

that said, i still find myself occasionally checking back for anything noteworthy. sure enough, i found myself face to face this morning with a new “definitive” SPIN list: the 125 best albums of the past 25 years, or the lifetime of the magazine. basically, it’s the same damn list they made on their 20th birthday plus 25. as always with lists like these, there are only so many ways to fuck it up (i mean radiohead: check. smiths: check. public enemy: check). but damned if SPIN didn’t find a way to raise my eyebrow in other ways, particularly in rankings and the repeat appearances of certain artists over others.

you can see the full list for yourself here or just get the cliff notes version plus my thoughts after the jump…

  • my, how fickle the SPIN-sters have grown over short five years. pixies’ surfer rosa went from being top 10 in 2005 all the way to number 44 in this list (doolittle is holding strong at about the same spot it was before). the strokes jumped from 100 to 16. meanwhile, other past worthy inclusions like emperor tomato ketchup, low life and kid A have disappeared altogether.  who can blame them? after all, they had to make room to bump up… master of puppets (which is now top 25, mind you).
  • the magazine is still clinging to the feeble belief that moby has some kind of relevance. his album play was way too high when it was top 20 on their 90’s list and at the bottom of the barrel here? still way too high.
  • queens of the stone age is higher than LCD soundsystem. let’s just not go there.
  • i’ll be the first to admit that the arcade fire’s funeral is one of last decade’s defining musical statements, but can someone explain to me why neon bible is on here too for basically doing the same thing but not as memorably?
  • while we’re on this subject, björk got a much deserved second inclusion (though i’ll be forever torn on whether debut or homogenic should get that inclusion with the obvious post), as did the smiths for the underrated strangeways, here we come.
  • switching out fever to tell for it’s blitz as their yeah yeah yeah album was a bold move, as was making merriweather post pavilion their sole animal collective inclusion.
  • there was a time where i would have been happy to see fiona apple included on a list like this. just not sure that time is now.
  • am i the only one who thinks the hot rock is better than dig me out? doesn’t matter. sleater-kinney are still too low, as are sonic youth, the stone roses, pulp, and my bloody valentine. and where in the blue hell are cocteau twins?
  • the limited post ’05 inclusions just feel like obligatory shout outs (LCD, M.I.A., etc.) that really ought to be higher than they are if the magazine actually gives a damn about them. where are other latter-millenial triumphs from the likes of the knife? panda bear?? joanna newsom???
  • no actually, let’s go there. seriously: “all my friends,” “someone great,” “new york i love you but you’re bringing me down.” you’re telling me that “feel good hit of the summer” trumps all of those?!

i made it this far without actually getting into the top ten. what’s there to say? pj harvey is in about the same spot she was before for the same album she should be. the queen is dead rightfully moved up a few spots and the eternal radiohead vs. nirvana debate once again shifted in the opposite direction. the real surprise is that neither placed first. that honor apparently belongs to king bono and co. for achtung! baby which jumped up from 11 five years ago.

color me flummoxed. while i agree that this is U2’s best album, i highly doubt it’s aged better than OK computer, queen or slanted and enchanted. in fact, they’ve arguably gotten weaker with each subsequent release since this one. seriously SPIN. there was a time when you were considered forward-thinking in your tastes and accolades. at what point did you not only become stuck, but actually start regressing? if i wanted to hear about how great U2 still are(n’t), i’d read rolling stone.

but enough complaining. i guess at some point i’ll just have to do my own albums of a lifetime thing. maybe when i turn 30. in the meantime, we’ve got this, as well as countless other lists like it from various years and decades. there’s still plenty to cherry pick from here, quality-wise. just check it out while you can.  i’m worried about who’s going to be sacrificed in another five years so joshua tree can move up to the number two spot.



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