I’m allowed to still have Kings of Leon, right? You people will still consent to this? This is still OK, yeah? Nobody’s feeling mistreated in any way? I don’t want this to be one of those things where I was almost sure you were OK to me playing with my gross old man testicles while you watched holding back tears.
Remember that Simply Red song Holding Back the Tears? Well that’s what it was about. Mick Hucknall was so ahead of his time. He was trying to teach us, why did we refuse to learn? What’s that? It was actually called Holding Back the Years?? Well, shucks… Ah well, I’ve written it now.
I’ve done well, haven’t I? I’ve, like, mostly irradiated all the bullshit white guy rock that was honestly the entirety of all music I consumed before the age of about 19. I like to think that my end of year lists, while being a no way near exhaustive list of new music, is at least a forward thinking and progressive exercise in highlighting new and exciting progressions in style and presentation and in many different (and often new) genres. What’s your favourite Turmeric Trancotone album of 2021? Gotta be #26, right?
The Manic Street Preachers are the greatest rock band ever. That’s not an opinion, it’s a conclusion that I’ve reached and am now saying it loudly and not listening to any dissenting voices, which in 2021 counts as a ‘fact’.
Their greatness is… complicated… and not easy to explain in a simple intro to a blog post… These 100 tracks aren’t necessarily the greatest songs ever. Even as a pathetically dedicated Manics stan*, even I would argue that they’ve only ever released one indisputable, stone cold classic record from front to back (see if you can guess which one after you read the list!). They may have supernatural control over melodies and how best to ensure a chorus hits just there, but at the end of the day they’re just a rock band. They have never really challenged the very boundaries of music, never pushed things forward or necessarily introduced anything new sonically. I would argue that only one of their albums is truly challenging and experimental, rather than just being a break from what the band usually produce (yeah, it’s the same album…). I mean, Jesus, they once shamelessly released a song including the lyric “The world is full of refugees/They’re just like you and just like me“. That’s unforgivably bad, isn’t it? They can’t come back from that, artistically.
(*I may occasionally use cool, groovy, young person lingo like ‘stan’ so you think I’m a hip young gunslinger. Not, y’know, old enough to be a Manics fan)
I’m not able to explain their magic here, but over the next one hundred (!) entries you’ll hopefully all have a better idea. It’s not as dominated by the 90’s as I was worried it might be, and every album is represented (apart from one. Because their tenth album is worse than Hitler). I’ve been wanting to find the time to do this for ages, partially inspired by the great What is Music podcast covering their entire discography and reminding me of how many big veiny stonkers this band had bulging out of their collective musical swimming trunks. They’re talking about Muse on that podcast now, a band for morons, so you only need to listen to the last season. My major blind spot is I don’t think they’ve done a decent b-side since 2001. Now, I’m sure I’m wrong, so please correct my ignorance in the comments. Tell me how wrong I am. Post your top tens. Your top hundreds. The Manic Street Preachers’ fan community is one of the greatest in the world, and no other band are as connected with their fanbase and feed off their adoration as much as The Manics. So let’s celebrate that by calling me a fat slut in the comments because I didn’t choose Little Baby Nothing.
‘Member 2020? Do you really?? I’m not 100% sure 2020 as a year actually took place in any official capacity. I accept that days were marked off and months were filed as ‘complete’ in admin, but it was all just a box ticking exercise to make sure that all the paperwork lined up and we weren’t caught out were the concept of the year twenty twenty be questioned in any future audit. Sure, it happened, just look at that tick of the Excel spreadsheet. Can we move on? Please?
While its existence is obviously a hotly debated issue, what’s undeniable is that we saw a shovel load of amazing songs in 2020. Thirteen more than in 2019, in fact, which means that, despite everything, 2020 was actually 14.56% a better year than 2019…? I know, it didn’t seem that way, but the maths doesn’t lie. In every previous year’s Legit Bosses countdown, I was fully confident what was going to finish top before I started writing it. In 2020, however, there were so many massively different but equally stonking songs that I had no idea where it was going to to land when I ranked them last night, the one that ended up on top really surprised me, and- fuck it- I may well change my mind again whie I write this. It’s my fucking list, piss off.
Some of you might remember me previously explaining that the Legit Bosses will be published a little later in the year because I had a big immigration law exam on the 25th February to study for. Well, despite studying like an appropriately legit boss myself, a week before the exam I was rushed to the hospital with ulcerative colitis, which was serious enough for me to be kept in the hospital for eight days, miss the exam and have to reschedule for May. I could have finished this dumb fucking list before New Year Day. Ah well, not to worry, just know that, no matter how fiendishly provocative and titillatingly obtuse my writing predictably, I resent everything about having to write this list and in all honesty despise you for reading it. More after the jump!!
2020 was a pretty incredible year for quality albums. We’ve sailed through ninety eight other examples of this fact in the past few weeks. Yeah, I know, did I do a top 100 this year? No, I did a top ninety nine because I’m freaking gangsta. Hmmm, imagine if I’d remembered to list Ariana Grande’s last album? It might have cleaned it up a bit. Ah well, no harm no foul. If you’re wondering, it would have finished arooooooouuuuuuuund… 74th. Despite the raised competition though, despite a high placing on 2020’s list being more difficult than in most recent years, there was still only ever really one record that I ever really imagined finishing top.
070 Shake is Danielle Balbuena, a 22 year old Brooklyn native of Dominican decent who has stealthily being climbing up the Necessary Evil chart in recent years. Her unmistakable, tranquil voice that seems to have been digitally uploaded from the uncanny valley and wears the scars of the distorted transition, had obviously been used recently to add certain sparkle to hip-hop tracks that nothing else was ever going to be likely to be able to do. She appeared on Pusha T’s Santeria,the 37th best album of 2018, offering a haunting and seemingly otherworldly Spanish language segment that the listener assumed would have taken all the talent of producer Kanye West to make sound quite so idiosyncratic and mystifying, not realising that was just what Shake’s voice sounded like. West was similarly enchanted by Shake as I was- as anyone would be, enough to have her guest on two tracks from his own (unfairly maligned, really freaking good) solo record that year, the twelfth best album of 2018, on album highlight Violent Crimes and of 2018 highlight Ghost Town(the 13th best song of the year).
Yeah, you know how JPEGMAFIA’s album was just a collection of singles from the previous year? Well, Burial sees that effort and raises it by releasing a collection of singles and EPs from the better part of the last decade. Might have made sense to split the two albums up on the list. This list isn’t about aesthetics and sensible ordering though. It’s pure science. And if the science states that they should be placed next to each other, perhaps both fitted with a secret microchip so Bill Gates can track their movements, then who are we to argue?
Sigh… I’m going to have to start with an embarrassing confession. I know, many of you reading this already think all the things I write are shamefully embarrassing, but this is a distressing mark against my musical knowledge which, come on, up until now was unimpeached. In November of 2019, roughly a month before this collection came out, I wrote this:
Yeah, I’m in a good mood, what of it? Wanna fight about it? Bring it on, I bet I’ll have you kissing me before the first punch lands, because how can you stay angry at this face?? My good mood mainly arises from three reasons. Firstly, longtime reader Beryl got in touch to tell me how she enjoyed the last post, and only made the polite suggestion that this series could be improved if it…
…incorporated more hardcore scat pornography?? Jesus fucking Christ, Beryl. Honestly, whenever I’m that close to relaxing that restraining order, you come out with something that sends us back to square one. Maybe I’m at fault here for expecting more from someone I met on the online scatological fetish dating app ‘ScatrBraind‘, but I just always assumed she was interested in the person around the fecal matter, y’know?
Anyway, the second reason is that this will definitely be the final part in this series, allowing me to abandon my blog again to return to my three real loves (masturbating, crying, and masturbating while crying. Mainly the third, if I’m being completely honest). Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, we are now actually into the years where I made a point of listing the best albums, so this part should be an absolute piece of piss! Look at the header of this blog- I’ve already got my best albums of 07-19 listed! I just need to copy those albums down again for this entry! It’s 8:53 now, and I’ll have all this done and dusted in time for my traditional 9am cry! Let’s do this shit!!
You want an intro? You got that in part one! Let’s get down to the dirty, sticky and dangerously unhygienic business:
This was an important year for me, this was when shit got real. Yeah, Labour won the election, which I was aware I was supposed to celebrate but not yet conscious enough to know exactly why, just that ‘our team won*. Princess Diana died, inspiring a nationwide reaction that even 13 year old Alex Palmer recognised as being a bit fucking much**. All that was meaningless background noise though, as most importantly 1997 was the year that I became really switched on to new music. Before this point, most of the albums I’ve listed would have been discovered by me later and posthumously lusted after in the kind of nostalgic necrophilia that I would later grow to despise. Yeah, sorry if you’ve already imagined me as an incredibly cool seven year old bopping his head to Soonby My Bloody Valentine. From this point on, these important albums in my life and personal development were pretty much all discovered as contemporaries. Seriously though, ‘It’s Great When You’re Straight… Yeah’ was the first CD that I ever owned. Yeah. I’m that cool/weird.
This is probably the only reason i still do this stupid fucking list that nobody reads and the one post that I actually enjoy writing (because it’s basically just me making lots of pretty pictures), statistical motherfucking analysis!! The numbers, the records and the science, yo! behind Necessary Evil 2019. Let’s start with with what (spit) other music journalists thought.
OK, we all actually agree on the nest album of the year, so the critics are actually correct for once. Chill out on Jamila Woods and Michael Kiwanuka though, yeah?
So Kanye ditched ‘Yandhi‘, which was late in its production and looked like it might become very worthwhile, to instead work on a completely new album. OK. I mean, switching projects completely so rapidly and frequently might not bode well for general standards of quality, but who am I to speak about artistic methods? I do this list every year and yet still manage to never let the quality slip below pelvis shattering power, so I’m sure lesser artists like Kanye will be able to ensure standards are still high. And it’s a gospel album?! Well colour me intrigued! Perhaps Kanye will be able to put similar spins on (and analysis of) the genre as Chance the Rapper did on ‘Coloring Book‘! Back when Chance was good! Perhaps, in the future, we will look back on ‘Yandhi’ as Kanye’s ‘Black Album‘, Prince’s mythical 1987 album that he allegedly dropped work on after experiencing a spiritual epiphany while on pills* and decide to instead focus on the gorgeous paean to the struggles of good over evil (and, y’know, shagging) that was ‘Lovesexy‘. Perhaps something happened to Kanye similar to Prince coming up and seeing the light. Kanye West doesn’t take good drugs though, guy has far too much upper body tension, so it’d be an experience more suited to him. Maybe he saw someone else wearing leather jogging pants- his invention!!- and it just pushed him over the edge. Maybe he realised the president he’s such a fan of is an unashamed racist and wants many of his fans removed from the country. Hard to say. Perhaps ‘Yandhi’ will finally receive a proper release in 7 years time and people will be ever so slightly disappointed
(*described as a ‘bad experience on MDMA’ in the Wikipedia article, which, hehehe, no. Taking a pill and then deciding to drop the darker work you’re doing in favour of positive stuff that tries to bring love to everyone isn’t a ‘bad experience on MDMA’, it’s just what happens when you take pills)
You know what? I’ve got a funny feeling that this might not be my last chance to talk about him before this list is done, so I’m wary of squeezing out all my Kanye Juice before the real party starts. ‘Yandhi’ was the album that he was going to release as his follow up to last year’s ‘Ye‘ (I’m sorry, haterz/liberals, but ‘Ye’ was a pretty fine album, as were most of the eighty four records he released last year, let’s not let our reactions to his general behavior colour the history), but then it was delayed, then cancelled, then briefly revived with Ashton Kutcher playing the role of Kanye West, then delayed, then its name was changed to ‘Spunk Muffin and the Dudes With Attitude’, then it was cancelled again, then it was changed to ‘Jesus Is King’, then it was revealed that it wasn’t actually a name change but a completely separate record, then that record was delayed, then it was delayed again, until, finally, it was released, and Yandhi was cancelled, only briefly being released (seriously) as ringtones. Quite straightforward as Kanye West album launches go, really. I actually only sought out ‘Yandhi’ because I assumed it would contain intriguing scrappy demos of whatever tracks Kanye was working on for his next record (which at that point had been delayed so many times I assumed this would be the closest we’d get to a Kanye album this year), but it’s shocking to hear quite how complete a lot of songs on here are, and how realised many ideas are. New Body in particular sounds less than a tweak away from being a hit single, Nicki Minaj feature and all. Later, it was shocking how few of the songs and ideas on ‘Yandhi’ made it to ‘Jesus is King’. Like, pretty much none of it. Nicki Minaj? She’s gone. Hey, Kanye, maybe stay focused on one thing for more than three minutes? Might result in better albums? Perhaps I’ll get to debate this further later.