(*yeah, that song isn’t actually included. It’ll be on Legit Bosses 2022 though! I’m just a bit slow with these things…)
So, only 121 this year, a marked decline on 2020’s 125. So was it a notably worse year? Absolutely chuffing not. Despite the 2.928% drop in numbers, the quality on show is outstanding. Never mind the weight, feel the quality. The top maybe twenty songs especially are on some next level shit, and you haven’t seen so many GOATs since you traumatically happened upon Weird Uncle Colin’s problematic porn collection back in 92. I also shaved a few songs last minute, mainly because they were from albums due to be released in 2022 and I decided to make them Next Year Alex’s problem. Also, one or two I realised… weren’t… actually… that… good… So that just means the 121 that made the cut are all of such spectacular quality that you may want to warn the people around you before you start reading this list, as the floor between your legs is about to get soaked.
No, no, hey, maybe it’s you that’s too gross, ever considered that??
Anyway, let the festivities begin, here are the playlists:
Hey! A special bonus post! This year’s Necessary Evil is finished, there’s still the Legit Bosses/best songs to do, but, dude, that is effort, seriously. It was my birthday yesterday (remember, Older Than ArloYounger That Caroline/OLAYTC), so thanks for all the happy birthday wished that you didn’t give me – you ungrateful bunch of leeches – and all the lovely presents you didn’t send. No, Paula, that Tupperware tub full of your own excrement that you throw through my window doesn’t count as a present. You’ve done that every Tuesday since I slagged off Mercury Rev’s album back in 2015. I have plans tomorrow, New Years Eve, and then it’s just next fucking year and that’s a whole thing in itself. What I’m saying is, there happens to be a gap in my schedule today, so I’m going to scientifically analyse Jon Hopkins’ latest album by getting high as balls.
‘Music for Psychedelic Therapy’ is exactly what it sounds like. Inspired by Hopkins’s visit to some Ecuadorian caves to do some standard white boy in Ecuadorian cave shit, as Hopkins has obviously never read, seen or heard of Alex Garland’s The Beach or has such stunning lack of self awareness that he believes acting like he’s a late 90s gap year student isn’t something to be ashamed of. The album that came out of these hallucinogenic experiences is… really dull. Listless ambient nonsense. But I was sober when I listened to it! It’s like asking for my opinions on dog food when I’m not a dog, or to judge a Magic Eye contest when I’m not wearing my glasses, or asking me to set rules on abortion when I’m a man. Fucking ridiculous! Shameful, really. Hopkins made sure the album was 64 minutes, the average length of a ketamine high. Where would I get ketamine, you ask??
They came number one hundred and twelfth in 2016?! Sorry, I’ve just made myself feel a little ill by reminding myself of how many fucking albums I used to include on this dumb year end list that nobody reads. I did one hundred and seventeen albums in total that year, in one of the greatest years for music of the last two decades at least, so The Joys were unfortunately near the bottom of the pile with easily their weakest album. Dead bottom was Damian Lazarus who – and you’ll like this – actually slagged me off on Twitter because of the review!! I mean, fuck me, I know these days I am The Most Trusted Voice in Music™, but back then I think I had about 300 views in total across the whole year!! I had only just started my current Twitter account and had nine followers!! Damian Lazarus, you absolute fucking muppet.
Hey. Hey. Hey you. Yeah, you, future cultural historian. Yeah. I’m contacting you from the past. Wooooooooooo! Wait… no, I’m not a ghost, am I? Scrap that last comment. Just put down your Diplomat smoking pipe and remove your monocle, listen to me for a second. How’s the future treating you? Flying cloud storage, you say? Electronic cigarettes with AI sentience? Well that all sounds absolutely pointless, but good luck to you. Gig economy for cultural history, is it? Because Elon Musk is now the Great Leader at more than a thousand years old and can’t afford to give any workers at all any rights because he needs to fund his great humanitarian expedition to carve a visible doge meme onto the surface of Jupiter? For the lols? You have to pay for your own monocle and pipe?? Yeah, yeah, that all sounds awful, but not much different from my time and I kinda wish you’d stop going on about it, it’s my turn to speak.
How are you currently gauging the cultural mood of the years 2020-21 out there in the year 3000? Sure, if you wanted an inspiring and comforting read on everything you could just go to Arlo Parks’s debut album. Perhaps if you wanted a glimpse into how humanity strived (and often succeeded) to make creative connections despite the viral barriers you could take a listen to Charli XCX’s magnificent ‘how i’m feeling now‘. Or, yeah, if you wanted to go all Pitchforky I guess you could name that Fiona Apple album. What’s that? You’re actually currently evaluating the era through the prism of Emily in Paris? Damn, that’s a good angle, and I’d love to see what horrors you’ve unearthed during your studies. But can I suggest something far more advantageous? How about you study the illuminating trilogy of albums released by Big $ilky over that period?
Hey hey hey! I manged to link #40, Kanye West, with #39, Caroline Shaw, now I’ve managed to link Shaw with Arlo Parks at #38! Will I continue to do this right down to the year’s best album? Absolutely! Until I forget to do it, which I will definitely do with the next one, because it’s going to be a struggle to think of a link between JPEGMAFIA and Arlo Parks. Oops. Spoiler, I guess…
‘Collapsed in Sunbeams’ was released at the end on January 2021, when the UK was coming up to a solid 12 months under on and off lockdown measures. It was a different time. Or, at least, different at time of writing. Much of the country had been cut off from the percentage of humanity that didn’t work for Deliveroo* and had just been forced to spend a Christmas away from their friends and family. Well, unless they were lucky enough to have specific ‘business meetings’ and they actually passed these laws so in a strange loophole they didn’t actually didn’t apply to them. God speed, moral superiors. The whole country was on edge, wondering exactly how many banana breads made and opinions on the USA George Floyd protests posted online per afternoon is diagnosed as mentally dangerous, and the disgustingly young Arlo Parks’s debut album was soon instilled as the nation’s official comfort blanket, winning Brit Awards and the Mercury Prize. Parks combined emotionally raw and painfully honest lyrics with soft and silky pop music, which all seemed to carry the message that, hey, everything gonna be a’right. Personally, I didn’t really need that much comforting regarding the lockdown – I was lucky enough to be in a job that was never in danger of being swept from under me, plus I’ve never been one for overly championing the company of other people. Other people are dumb and annoying. However, for me, it certainly offered timely comfort around the chaotic breakdown of my second marriage. Ah, bollocks, I’ve become one of those guys, haven’t I?