Where the heck are my lists? Where?
It’s Franz Liszt. Get it? It is beginning to look as if an entire generation has been deprived of a great cultural pursuit by the inconvenient arrival of a new millennium 10 years ago (or nine years ago if you’re …
It is beginning to look as if an entire generation has been deprived of a great cultural pursuit by the inconvenient arrival of a new millennium 10 years ago (or nine years ago if you’re just that sort of pipe-smoking pedant). I am referring to the regular gathering together of reminiscences at the end of a decade and the ordering of all films, records, plays, television shows, hats and chocolate bars from that period into a neat series of lists. As you will recall, nobody much bothered doing this at the end of the 1990s because, what with the big one on the way, such an exercise seemed a little trivial. You could hardly work up much enthusiasm for writing a piece on the 10 top hip-hop albums of the 1990s when, elsewhere in the paper, some historian was pondering whether the first or second World War was the top global conflict of the century.
The hangover from that period still seems to be with us. Post-millennial unease and the fact that nobody ever satisfactorily found a term to describe this decade — “noughties” is almost as ghastly a word as “blog” — have hampered the naval-gazing to a distressing degree. I want my lists. Where are my lists?
By October 1979 or October 1989, the pundits were already deep into the process of top tens. Yet the fatuous, trivial, utterly essential charts are still depressingly thin on the ground. The sort of thing we want is pieces like Pitchfork Media‘s recent Decade in Music. Tell me Kid A is the best album of the decade. Why don’t you?Tell me something. Tell me Paris Hilton is third most vacuum-headed showroom dummy of the noughties. Tell me Gerhard Schröder has the fifth bushiest eyebrows of any European leader. Tell me whatever you like. You can even tell me that — how often will this one be dragged up? — the decade really began with 9/11 and ended with the constitutional canonisation of Barack Obama. There’s a lost generation out there craving chart action.