It’s that time of year, when people who write about music attempt to sum the year up in list form. And who am I to buck that trend?
The advent of iTunes makes it much easier than it used to be for me to compile a “best of 2006″ list, as it keeps records of when I added various songs to the collection, and also what I rated them. This isn’t a foolproof method– I bought some old albums and greatest hits packages, so the really basic algorithm would claim that “I Can’t Hardly Wait” was among the best songs of 2006– but it’s better than relying solely on my memory.
I tend to rate songs on iTunes such that a decent but unremarkable tune gets three stars, a song I’d like to hear more often gets four, and a song I’m tempted to hit the “back” button and listen to again immediately after it finishes gets five. On those standards, 317 songs got four stars in 2006, and 27 got five. Editing out the songs that were obviously old, the five-star songs of 2006 were (with occasional commentary):
- “Beautiful Wreck,” Shawn Mullins
- “Supersede,” Jackie Greene. Jackie Greene does “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again”– it’s a long and very cryptic song.
- “I Bet You Look Good On the Dancefloor,” Arctic Monkeys
- “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song,” The Flaming Lips
- “The W.A.N.D.,” The Flaming Lips. This really doesn’t sound like the Flaming Lips at all. I like the skronk.
- “Hands Open,” Snow Patrol
- “Crazy,” Gnarls Barkley. Undeniably the signature song of the year.
- “One Man Wrecking Machine,” Guster
- “Long Distance Call,” Phoenix
- “Roscoe,” Midlake
- “Modern Swinger,” The Pink Spiders. I’m not sure this was a 2006 album, but it was a fun record.
- “Little Razorblade,” The Pink Spiders
- “Too Slight For Thin,” The Campbells. This is a 75 or Less pick-up.
- “Slide Away,” Joseph Arthur
- “Sundress,” Ben Kweller
- “Chips Ahoy,” The Hold Steady. Probably the album of the year, for me.
- “You Can Make Him Like You,” The Hold Steady
- “When You Were Young,” The Killers
- “St. Rosa and the Swallows,” The Thermals
- “She Doesn’t Get It,” The Format. Another 75 or Less pick-up.
- “Somerville,” The Pernice Brothers
- “What Else Would You Have Me Be?,” Lucero. The Onion said these guys “could be the hick Hold Steady,” so you know I had to buy it.
- “Las Cruces Jail,” Two Gallants. This is a really odd record– sort of punk Americana. But not at all like X, which is what that description evokes– much more like the Ramones doing X covers, if there were only two of them.
(These are listed in the order in which they were added to the music library. I’m not entirely sure that all of these were really 2006 albums, but I’m too lazy to check.)
There’s a good amount of overlap between this list and other best-of lists I’ve seen, at the artist level. My tastes in music are a little more pop-oriented than some, though, so I frequently picked different tracks, and I generally went for more middlebrow stuff than professional critics. The most obvious deviation probably being “Hands Open” by Snow Patrol, which was the big, anthemic, we-want-to-be-U2-circa-1983 single that most critics deride as a sell-out. But, hey, I like 1983-era U2. “Here’s Your Future” is also the more common pick off the Thermals record, but I find it a little too strident to really be a five-star song, and “St. Rosa and the Swallows” is the song (heard on KEXP) that got me to check out the album.
So there’s my attempt at a best-music-of-2006 list. What’s yours?