(*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! 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?
2021 #48 (Sō Percussion, Dawn Upshaw, and Gil Kalish)
Remember ‘Caroline Shaw: Narrow Sea‘ at #48? Yeah, I know, that was a bit of a while back now. Jesus, I spoil you ingrates with three posts in three days over the weekend and now you’re expecting daily updates?? I do have a job, you know?? Sure, it’s only a flat fee per month to suck Paul Scholes’s daughter’s toes whenever he’s too busy to satisfy her, but it’s an honest job God dammit! Anyway, remember that album? That was a bit of a bop, wasn’t it? But you know what it was missing that would make it that little bit better?
Ah, fuck, am I including B-Side collections now?? I guess that shouldn’t be much of an issue, considering that there’s only a tiny, Jeremy Beadle handful of artists I would even considering purchasing a B-Side collection of. Just so you know, Manic Street Preachers‘ last B-Side collection was back in 2003. The Bad Seeds released ‘B-Sides and Rarities’ part one in 2005, so the Manics are already embarrassingly behind schedule. Sort it out, Wire. Although, to be honest, I was all ready to announce that the inherent importance of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds have lead to them releasing the first B-Sides collection to be featured on Necessary Evil, until I remembered that Carly Rae Jepsen’s 2016 B-Side collection made #31 that year, so there really is no rhyme nor reason to it. Also, the featured image to that blog post is Al Pacino shoving cocaine into his face in Scarface, so let’s not pretend any of us has any idea what’s going on around here.
What a collection though, aye? Ammi right? Ammi right? I’m right. ‘B-Sides and Rarities’ part one was no slouch at all, containing a smattering of wonder that showed how harsh the band’s quality control had been during the first two decades of their existence considering the excellence of some of their cast-offs. It was clear that the bar to entry onto a Bad Seeds album was more stringent and difficult to pass than the best American colleges even if your mother used to be in Desperate Housewives. There were also other bits and bobs that settled debates such as whether Shane MacGowan did the best version of Lucy. He did. Debate over.