Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Anatomy of The List
I have mentioned before that the Internet in general, and Internet Blogs specifically really only exist for one reason.
OK the Internet in general, and Internet Blogs specifically really only exist for TWO reasons. The OTHER one is we all just want to arbitrarily influence the opinions of complete strangers by subjectively ranking things.
All of us.
All the time.
At least, that’s what I like to convince myself. Otherwise, it’s just ME obsessively compulsing all over the ‘net with reckless abandon. Please, join my on my fools errand, won’t you?
My current, and by far most ambitious ranking project is actually designed to have a purpose beyond artificially inspiring debate in hopes to gain regular readers. This ranking list will serve as a master ranking list for many little sub-lists. Those sub-lists will subsequently be turned into playlists, those playlists will then allow me to listen to the best-of-the-best-of-the-best without having to surf through all the less-than-stellar filler found dotted through the catalogs of even the most talented recording artists. Sorry, Duran Duran, but no one is listening to your debut album for Night Boat to Cairo.
I guess I should explain what The List IS. See. I’m going to systematically dig through my iTunes playlist, and pull out ALL the artists who have over 25 unique separate recordings. Example, a live version of a studio track already counted would not count. A Greatest Hits or ‘Single’ edit version of an album track previously counted would not count. A live recording of a track not available on a studio album, or preferred to a studio version would count, but only if said studio version either does not exist, or isn’t counted. Confused yet? Good, that’s what I was aiming for.
From there, I will rank all the artists based purely on my own subjective ranking system with some caveats. Namely, to land in the top 5, you MUST have a minimum of 100 individual tracks, and to land in the top 10, that minimum requirement is 75. Outside of that, it’s Game On. After all, music appreciation is nothing if not subjective. Otherwise, there is no explanation for Ween.
Once ranked, the top 100 will each get a top-25 track playlist. The top 10 will get a top-50 track playlist, and #1 will get a top-100 track playlist.
To avoid suspense, #1 will be The Beatles, and breaking down their catalog to a Top-100 is a challenge I’ve been putting off for about 20 years, so that’s going to be… Fun? Yeah, we’ll say fun…
The thing is, as I think about this project, I’m finding myself left with more questions than answers. I’m pretty confident in determining a number of qualifying tracks per artist, but where do I draw the line for ‘combining’ artist catalogs? For example, in my opinion, Adam Duritz, Counting Crows, and The Himalayans are all one ‘Artist’ under the main ‘Artist’ category of Counting Crows; however, Sting and The Police are two separate artists. Genesis, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, and Steve Hackett are seven different ‘Artists’, yet Dresden Dolls, Evelyn Evelyn, and Amanda Palmer are all Amanda Palmer to me. Do I case-by-case my decision, or should I institute some theorem to keep consistent? Does it matter?
I run into the same issue when I alphabetize. Do I use the iTunes logic and put 10,000 Maniacs at the end? Do I use standard logic and put 10,000 Maniacs at the beginning? Do I just file it under T for Ten-Thousand Maniacs? If you immediately disregarded option 3, then consider Four Non-Blondes? I file The Beatles under B, omitting the word ‘The’, so where the hell does The The go?
OK, that was a joke, but in all seriousness, the whole when-to-combine issue is a big one. I guess, if the potential combinees could occupy multiple spots on their own merit, then they deserve to be separated accordingly (The Morrissey vs. The Smiths theorem) However, when it takes the combined efforts to make the best potential qualifying catalog (The Amanda Palmer Solution) then combine I shall. Sound good? Good. Suggestions, comment away my dear 'netizens, I cannot confirm I will heed your advice, but I will most assuredly listen.
Now, to begin digging through the 1,400 separate artist listings on my iTunes playlist, determine the qualifiers, and assemble the Top 100…
I’m dropping this post to explain that I’ll check in as I go, and throughout the playlist making process. Also as a sort of trail for the authorities should the overwhelming obsession lead to CSD Julie murdering me and disposing of my body rather than having to listen to me endlessly debate with myself about just which tracks to pull off of the Beach Boys Pet Sounds. By the way, if this is going out posthumously, she dumped me somewhere off of Ortega Highway, and Wouldn’t It Be Nice, God Only Knows, and I Know There’s an Answer and/or Hang On To Your Ego, but I mean, they’re really the same song, right? But that’s kind of the brilliance of the tracks, isn’t it? You kind of need both to really make it work, but taking both kills space for a lot of other great Beach Boys tunes from other records, and I don’t know if I can really afford to take 4 tracks from this one album, even if it is their best work, and I’m already cutting out Sloop John B, and…
For the record, the 50-state-strategy is still in effect, but seriously, this sounds like a hell of a lot more fun than finding bands from Oklahoma. I’ll get there eventually…