So despite a lack of rules, there should be a few guidelines when it comes to best of lists, shouldn't there? 'Tis the fucking season for this type of thing, and the more we've read, the more we've become convinced that people either aren't taking this seriously (see the Rolling Stone post below, we are still seething about their picks) or don't know what the hell they're talking about.
Forthwith, ergo, and thusly, a few thoughts:
a) Your picks should be music you would REALLY listen to. It should not be stuff you picked to seem musically literate to your friends. It should not be shit that 'breaks new ground' but is essentially noise. It should not be unlistenable to a group of people at a party. If you like it because it reminds you of some intense personal experience that you have somehow projected onto the music and it's what you put on when it rains or something, remember: no one fucking cares.
b) You should run these picks by some normal people. If you live in a cocoon of people who all listen to exactly what you listen to, claim to be 'so bored' with music today or feign total hipster coolness all weekend (ie, you work at NPR, you listen exclusively to NPR, you are from New Jersey but never tell anyone), you need to branch out and ask other people 'Does this suck?' I'm not talking your little sister who digs boy bands, just someone normal. Noise is noise, know the difference.
c) It is OK to put really unknown shit in your Top 50 because you really like it and you'd like other people to know about it, buy it, support the band, whatever. It is NOT AT ALL OK to put ten of these bands in your Top 10 for any reason at all. I suspect some people throw the most obscure stuff they can think of in their top picks so that we'll all feel like ... like I don't even know why people still do this. I feel such loathing towards the whole 'You've never heard of Pregnant Dolphin? Jeez, man, they'll blow you away, if you've never heard the sound of a ceiling fan being shoved up a lion's ass played backwards, you're not really hearing music' crowd.
Listen to NPR's All Songs Considered podcast from 12/29/08 to see exactly what I mean. Just listen to it. You'll vomit from the pretension. Vikings Choice, my ass.
d) Why does everyone's Top 25 come out in December? January sucks so bad, it is the Monday of months, it is the worst month ever, it's the month when too many people say 'Oh, I can't go out all month, I need to dry out from Christmas and New Years', it's the month when it's balls cold out and it's dark at 5pm, so shouldn't there be something to look forward to?
There is. A punch in your balls is on the way. The General Theory Top 25 is nearly here.