Thirteen different artists have won Necessary Evil since it first started in 2007. Maybe fourteen, depending on your take on 2013’s infamous Arctic Monkeys/Hjaltalín controversy. No artist has ever finished first twice. Until now. 070 Shake’s ‘Modus Vivendi’ was the greatest album of 2020, and the 2022 follow-up is unquestionably the greatest album released this year, with its only viable contender being a 1982 masterpiece widely regarded as one of the greatest albums of all time. These are the only two albums she has released.
Oh Aggie, your beating heart was a carriage made of gold How the arithmetic of this guitar melts your heart is beyond me And when I say beyond me, I mean beyond me Love ya? I barely know you, it goes to show Who really knows what love is? The branches, the breeze, the roiling seas None of it seems worth mentioning Though I’m in the process of figuring it out Even if it’s elementary A scrapyard angel, wings of brass Ash, a river called trash And speaking of lifelike, this is what life’s like You thread the needle, then the needle runs dry You thread the needle, then the needle runs dry “Inward Crackle,” says the fink to himself Oh well, I wasn’t taught how to Go off like a, go off like a, go off like a, go off like a Go off like a hydrogen bomb But I do radiate a certain glow It flutters and fades, a Ferris wheel on the run from the snow You have to look at it from all angles Says the cubist judge from cubist jail The sky glows, the heat is unbearable Parrot weather My decision is final, a crazy game I traded in moonlight for the morning dew I know dusk when I see one I know rust when I see it You come out swinging, but you go down swinging too You pay good money for a million dollar view Flipping the pages of Chatelaine The rude empiricism of every troubled loser Quote, unquote, unquote A moment alone please A moment alone please A moment alone please With this, with this With this rhapsody With this rhapsody Vital information from where I’m standing Low-born Madonna With her typewriters in the rain Clacking their misfortunes, speech, speech A figure of light’s trapped inside your kimono Absent friends, where’d you go? And while we’re on the subject of psychotic passwords Honing in on nothing Everywhere Rome goes Everybody wants her Ah fuck, I feel like a discovery someone once saw On a clear day Dump him
(*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:
Nick Cave album number three and a half! Or is it just number three? Do the last two doublet albums instead just count for one whole one? Whatever, it’s Cave’s twelfth Necessary Evil ranking album that he’s featured on, which I’m going to assume is a record seeing as The Manics (his only feasible challengers) only have a pitiful nine. Yeah, he’s been sneakily boosting his stats this year with multiple albums, but then The Manics boosted their stats with rereleasing ‘This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours‘ and ‘Gold Against the Soul‘, so no need to create a fuss, we’re all friends here. Warren. Warren! Put the knife down, yeah? It’s Christmas
Did you notice that thing that erupted in 2020? No, not Zandaya, though isn’t she just wonderful? Not Tiger King, no, come on, that meme’s been dead a long time. And, no, I am not about to make another Emily in Paris joke, I made one of those in my Big $ilky review and – honestly? – I feel that may already be too many. I mean the coronavirus, or COVID-19, the sickness so good they named it twice. Then kept naming it: Delta, Omicron, The Global Bastard, The Big Stink, The Worldwide Whoopsie, The Wuhan Cunt, and many more. Didn’t notice? Take a look out the window.It’s still happening. Haven’t seen Granny in a while? Yeah, because she’s dead, mate.Merry Christmas.
On her phenomenally intense and altogether astonishing latest album, Lingua Ignota/Kristen Haytor sticks her claws deeply and violently down the throat of Christian theology, pulling out bloodies entrails that even fellow damned theological researcher Nick Cave feel a little queasy. She highlights the duality and crazed hypocrisy of blind devotion, while also seeming to float the thought of requesting the all-powerful dominance (you could almost call it ‘biblical’) of that good old fashioned Old Testament God to help soother her own wounds by inflicting painful reckoning on the people that have hurt her. Well, I say ‘people’… Men. It’s not a nice story. It’s a grim and horrific story that seems to have been continued recently in her relationship with Daughters‘ frontman Alexis Marshall. I’m not going to cover any of this in detail in this piece, but I feel it is important to be aware of.
The anger and malicious retributory intent reaches such an apex on I WHO BEND THE TALL GRASS, when Hayter sems to collapse to her knees, shivering with rage as she references Corinthians 2:14 and begs God’s help to ‘Take hold of my gentle axe and split him open/Gather up my quiet hammer and nail him down/Use any of your heavenly means/Your golden scythe/Your holy sword/Your fiery arrows studded with stars’ before abandoning any pretence of deference and simply screaming ‘I don’t give a fuck/Just kill him/You have to/I’m not asking’. It’s an absolute fucking trip.
Yeah, y’know, I’m actually an indigenous person meself, know warra mean? Indigenous fackin’ Englishman, me, yeah? Oi oi! You avin’ that? Noice, mate, noooooooooooooooooooooooooooice!
Let’s stop all that for a start. The term ‘indigenous people’ isn’t just some uncomfortable dog whistle to be used to threateningly outline the idea that some kinds of people are the ones meant to occupy a certain land. Y’know, before all the bloody Muslims moved in… The term ‘indigenous’ when referring to people is actually intentionally loaded, and designed to make great portions of the globe always shift every so uncomfortably in their seats as it reminds them of past imperialism, past genocides, and current mealy mouthed pretences of absolutions and reparations. The Aborigines, The Maasai, The Kurds, The Maori… Indigenous people are among the original inhabitants of a place which was later colonised by a larger ethnic group, mostly leading to them being left as tiny minorities on the land they once considered their own. That’s right, by its very nature the term ‘indigenous people’ is all political, continuing the broad trens that everything that’s isn’t a straight cishet white man is political. If you’re an English person, your country was largely the reason most indigenous communities became indigenous. So there’s always that.
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.
I feel I can’t rank this record any higher. It’s designed to accompany a drug trip and I have been stone cold and continuously, shamelessly sober since its release three weeks ago. Well…kinda… all my prescription medications kind of mean I’m blissfully high as a kite 24 hours a day so as not to acknowledge the overwhelming pain of day to day existence. But that’s my norm, so it doesn’t count. Sometime in January, I’m going to take some psychedelics and then blog about my altogether more valid opinion. That’s not a joke. It’s an excuse to take drugs as a professional study, why on Earth would I turn that down?
Yeah, it’s a bad idea, but name one good idea in my wntire life? And look how succesful I am. Exactly. Expect a potentially life destroying blog entry some weekend in January. You realise that I’m killing myself for your entertainment? Good. Just checking we’re on the same page.
Yes! For the eighth straight year* the highlight of everyone’s festive season is back. And what a year. What a couple of years. Personally, I mean, I’ve no idea what’s been going on in the wider world. I’ve noticed masks have come back into fashion, but that seems to have had its moment and is wearing off, bit of an embarrassing fad it seems, like scrunchies or caring about the environment. Remember when we all did that?? Mega cringe.
(*I am absolutely fucking definitely stopping this after the tenth year, you have no idea how much freaking work this meaningless piece of work takes. Or I might just turn it into a Google Sheet that I release on Christmas eve. Or a TikTok. I’ll just do a TikTok where I take my shirt off and tell you what I thought of the latest Shamir album. I’ll do a dance and shit. It’ll go viral)
So, when I did Necessary Evil 2019 I had never met my my future wife. Then I met my future wife on Bumble while I was doing a series about how much nonsense dating apps were. We really hit it off, but then she realised that I was writing a blog series about it (I didn’t mention her because, y’know, I kinda liked her. I know, mega cringe, right? Epic fail) so she cut off all contact with me, blocking me in ways I never previously knew were digitally possible. Then I wrote a post about the whole mess. She read the post, didn’t hate it, approximately five months later we were married. So, yeah, when I wrote Necessary Evil 2020 I was living with my new wife.
And as I start Necessary Evil 2021, to the excitement and joy of all five or six of the people who read this, I am back to living with my Mum, applying for an annulment of a marriage to a wife who has again blocked me on every digital avenue possible. It’s quite a journey. It’s, like, 92% my fault. I’m sure it’ll come up again. Entry #35 for example, I’ve no idea what I’m going to write for that, so might just do some primal scream therapy. The band Primal Scream, unfortunately, do not feature this year.
But what a year for music, ammi right?? We’ve got a Manics album (click click click click), we’ve got the continuing Prince journey and a ‘new’ Prince album, we’ve got Kanye (as always) and, fair warning, we’ve got a lot of Nick Cave. Three and a half albums. Too much Cave? No such thing. There are six former winners. Or perhaps seven. I think I proved in my stats regarding the Manics top 100 that countingreally isn’t my strong point. I’m more, like, holistic when it comes to numbers, yeah? There’s eighty one albums, because I can’t do anything right. I’m going to try and brush through numbers 81-41 in groups of ten, then give the top forty their own dedicated posts, even though, as amazing as all the albums are, I can’t think of anything to say about most of them. I’ve also reluctantly made my peace with Spotify. I hate it, you hate it, it’s going to be the death of the entire industry, but I understand that it is the industry. I link to each artist’s BandCamp (the light side of the force battling Darth Ek) page but also host the album on Spotify, as I understand most people can’t be arsed to stream it on BandCamp, will never pay for music, and Spotify streams at least mean something.
Yeah, so I’ve sold out, but what have you done this year? That’s right, you’ve just drooled over that paparazzi photo where you can kinda see Billie Eilish’s cleavage again and again, haven’t you? Grow up, she’s young enough to be that woman that your third wife divorced you over!! I have two ex-wives now, so I can make those jokes.
Anyway, we’re gonna have a lot of fun, yeah?? Once again, the reason that album you like isn’t featured is because it’s shit and you’re an idiot.
I honestly love you all. Heart emoji. I don’t know how you do that on WordPress…
If you’ve ever read this blog- like at all, you ingrate philistine- you know how I spend roughly 40% of my time elucidating how special Katie Crutchfield’s musical project is. I am very much a Waxahitcher, which is a term I’ve just made up for the sort of Waxahatchee fan who’s dedicated/deluded enough to invent a term for the level of insanity that their fandom warrants. She made the most important album of 2013 to me, which, yeah, I didn’t admitat the time, but respect the retcon!