Monday, December 15, 2014

Instant Review - Knee-jerk reactions to the P4k 100 for 2014

Along with taking a nap after every meal of my family's Yuletide celebrations, one of my favorite December traditions is cataloging my thoughts as I listen through each of the Pitchfork top 100 tracks in sequence. It can be fun to look back at previous years' reaction notes and see what favorites of mine I heard for the first time in those lists. Some times I am surprised at how a favorite of mine was ranked, or how goofy Pitchfork's blurbs are, and that's something I'll write down as well.

It's a humbling experience to realize how many quality tracks pass me by without appearing on my radar in the year of their release. Last year, I somehow entirely missed Drake's "Hold On, We're Going Home" and was surprised to see it was Pitchfork's #1 song (I'm still bitter that Mikal Cronin's "Weight" wasn't in that, or any, slot). Some of my very favorite songs and albums this year were ones I almost entirely missed in 2013. So, the goal here: find new things, celebrate established favorites, and somehow be consistently surprised by Drake.

Counting down the Pitchfork top 100 songs for 2014~~~~~~~~

100. Elisa Ambrogio - Superstitious
I haven't yet listened to this and just barely know Magik Markers, but I enjoyed this song so much that I don't think I can sustain that streak much longer.
99. Steve Gunn - Milly's Garden
I've also never really listened to Steve Gunn, but this is kind of what I guess I'd expect. Songs like this are hard to feel passionate about the first few times through.
98. Merchandise - Green Lady
These days' Merchandise are really not 'my thing' but I feel I should pay attention to them, just in case that changes, so I know they're there for me.
97. Copeland - Advice to Young Girls [ft. Actress]
Looking forward to having children so I can play them Copeland in the house in an effort to unlock their potential and make sure they never want to go to a concert with me again.
96. DJ Quik - I'm fairly confident that I haven't heard DJ Quik since his last track in one of these lists a few years back. The production on this is a lot of fun.
95. Cymbals Eat Guitars - Jackson
I still haven't heard this!
94. Taylor Swift - Out of the Woods
This is a good one, Taylor! It almost makes me want to buy your album, but I'm just too used to things being free.
93. The New Pornographers - War on the East Coast
I'm not sure how this happened, but somehow I think this is the first time I've heard any song off of this album! What's becoming of me?
92. iLoveMakonnen - I Don't Sell Molly No More
West coast Makonnen!
91. Hundred Waters - Murmurs
I finally got on board with Hundred Waters this year. They're really something great.
90. Protomartyr - Scum, Rise!
Spooky Detroit rock, I'm in! I'm looking forward to seeing them after getting to know them better.
89. Cloud Nothings - I'm Not Part of Me
It's funny to see these songs in sequence considering that they're playing the High Noon on the same day in January 2015. Moreso than #90, I feel I need to do some more homework to adequately enjoy this.
88. Lauryn Hill - Black Rage (Sketch)
I like the super-long blurb for this one.
87. Viet Cong - Continental Shelf
"Viet Cong" is still a distractingly bad band name, but I can get down with this. RIP Women!!!
86. Vince Staples - Blue Suede
I need to spend more time with this guy.
85. Arca - Thievery
I somewhat arbitrarily chose this track off of Xen to use on a mixtape, so I feel pretty validated right now.
84. Father John Misty - Bored in the USA
J Tillman is in such a good place right now. He writes songs like a more wrinkly Mac DeMarco.
83. Ought - Habit
I was turned on late to Ought by my Settlers of Catan group, and they've become easily one of my most-anticipated SXSW acts. This track is a great one.
82. Jessica Pratt - Back, Baby
Man, reading through the last 20 spots on this list has really made me miss booking WUD shows. So many great shows to be produced from these artists!
81. Andy Stott - Faith in Strangers
The hype williams vocal line always gets me. Bonus: this title comments on some of my post-WUD feelings. Gimme something to believe in!
80. Shellac - Dude Incredible
I've never listened to Shellac. It sounds like I'd enjoy them a lot though. This could be the music of old-timey pirates.
79. A Sunny Day in Glasgow - In Love With Useless (The Timeless Geometry in the Tradition of Passing)
What an amazing group for preposterous track titles for wonderful songs.
78. Rustie - Attak [ft. Danny Brown]
This is already one of the essential Danny Brown songs.
77. Rae Sremmurd - No Flex Zone
For the last few years I've done exceedingly poorly at keeping up with even the most popular rap tracks. This is a good one, though, and at least I'm familiar with it.
76. Royksopp / Robyn - Do it Again
75. Pharmakon - Bestial Burden
This is a great track, but not as terrific/terrifying as Body Betrays Itself. It'd be great to see that on in the top 30 tracks!
74. Holly Herndon - Chorus
I like that half the blurb examines another song of Holly's, because lack of context in this sort of list is inherent and problematic. Good blurb Grayson!
73. Makthaverskan - Asleep
I hadn't heard this band, and I liked it.
72. Ty Segall - The Singer
I hadn't heard this song, and I liked it.
71. Parquet Courts - Sunbathing Animal
Pitchfork continued to give glowing BNT reviews to tracks from this long after the album was released. It was an interesting thing to see, and I look forward to finding more tracks on this list.
70. Azealia Banks - Chasing Time
Augh, I just remembered that I've only heard this album once. I've fallen so far!
69. Rich Gang - Lifestyle
Pretty sure I haven't heard this yet, but it's alright!
68. Grouper - Clearing
Ah, what a great album this is! This is another track on the mix I just made. The other 2014 tracks from that mix: Panda Bear - Faces in the Crowd, TOPS - Sleeptalker, Beck - Wave, Fennesz - Paroles, Sun Kil Moon - Song Remains the Same. Of those, the one that will actually be on this list: I Watched the Film The Song Remains the Same.
67. White Lung - Face Down
66. How to Dress Well - Words I Don't Remember
I'm sort of amazed, but somehow I haven't listened to either of these albums despite really liking these bands' earlier material and live performances. I will do right by you White Lung and HtDW!! I promise!
65. Iceage - The Lord's Favorite
This new albums slays!! It is so terrific. I hope to see them again soon.
64. Leon Vynehall - Goodthing
Whoa, yeah!
63. Eno/Hyde - Return
That we're at #63 and there are still long swaths of tracks I've yet to even hear is a pretty good sign that I might not be able even keep up the charade of being 'up to date' much longer. This was a lot of fun to hear.
62. YG - Left, Right
DJ Mustard is a national treasure!!
61. Perfume Genius - Fool
Every year that passes brings Perfume Genius closer to the top of my 'most anticipated live shows' list. Maybe 2015 will bring me to him!
60. Ariel Pink - Picture Me Gone
One of the most 'SMiLE' Ariel Pink tracks I've heard. Listening to this song feels like falling into a laundry pile.
59. Alvvays - Archie, Marry Me
A striking time capsule from 2009.
58. Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues
+1 for being one of the sweatiest shows I attended this year, this is a great song from a great new direction from a consistently great band.
57. Dej Loaf - Try Me
Only heard this recently, in a late-night youtube sharing session that reminded me that the way to stay up on things is either to spend a lot of time foraging or to just participate in youtube sharing sessions with the right people.
56. Migos - Fight Night
The Migos flow has been such a comforting presence these past two years or so. Reclaim the triplets and adlibs!
55. Kendrick Lamar - i
Possibly the only song on this list that I heard for the first time on the radio.
54. Spoon - Inside Out
Camouflaged in what could be too consistent an oeuvre. These guys are such a cool band.
53. Perfect Pussy - Interference Fits
How does one select this song over others? A question I have often on these lists with the sort of release. This sort of selection is solid given the album's rightful merit, but unclear in its justification over its peers.
52. Todd Terje - Delorean Dynamite
This is perhaps the first track in the list I find appallingly under-rated. #52? I'm hoping for both 'Johnny and Mary' and another upbeat track in the top 50.
51. Owen Pallett - I Am Not Afraid
God, this is so dreamy!
50. Taylor Swift - Style
Pitchfork's tired refusal to review Taylor Swift's albums despite a consistent inclusion of her tracks in their end-of-year lists is one of the more baffling aspects of the site's flirtation with pop reporting. Stop pretending you don't care!
49. Run the Jewels - Blockbuster Night Part 1
One of the 11 best tracks on this album. There'd better be two more coming - I'd be surprised if "Count" isn't a top 15 track.
48. Lykke Li - Gunshot
I don't think I've heard this album yet!
47. Nils Frahm - Says
I really don't know anything about Nils Frahm. This is really great to hear, though.
46. Mr Twin Sister - In the House of Yes
So groovy! I'm really glad this band is back.
45. Ariel Pink - Put Your Number in My Phone
I'm pretty surprised this isn't much higher on this list.
44. Angel Olsen - Lights Out
I like this, but still don't feel passionately about Angel Olsen. Maybe next year!
43. Ariana Grande - Love Me Harder [ft. The Weeknd]
One of the most predictable 2014 stars. Good work, AG!
42. St. Vincent - Prince Johnny
So crispy!
41. The War on Drugs - An Ocean in Between The Waves
All three of the first tracks on this album had better be on this list. Red Eyes should definitely be a top 5 pick!
40. Jessie Ware - Tough Love
39. Real Estate - Talking Backwards
38. Bobby Shmurda - Hot Neighbor
37. Charli XCX - Boom Clap
Despite hearing this many times in various places, I had no idea this was Charli XCX. I think that is a good sign for Charli XCX's career? I think?
36. Mac DeMarco - Passing Out Pieces
Such a wonderfully fat song! It's got the best heavy trod. Did this really come out this year?
35. FKA Twigs - Pendulum
You know? (You don't.) I haven't really listened to this album enough to be familiar with many individual songs, as I am now realizing. This song sounds like LP1, though, and I like LP1, so I like this.
34. Tobias Jesso Jr. - True Love
Whoa!! Where did this come from? I am really into this one.
33. Ariana Grande - Problem [ft. Iggy Azalea]
I had forgotten about this one. #33's a fair ranking, though. It is somewhat of a top 40 triumph.
32. Swans - Oxygen
A true triumph, this is my song of the year. #32 is passable, but still a big upset in my mind/predictions.
31. Aphex Twin - minipops 67 [120.2][source field mix]
This is a very high ranking of the album's lead single. A bit suspect (is it really that great? I haven't decided either way).
30. A. G. Cook - Beautiful
YES! PC Music Trance. such a good 'un!
29. Spoon - Do You
Yeah! This is a great spot for this track. I'm glad it wasn't snubbed.
28. Grouper - Holding
Another one I wasn't expecting! This is great. I'm happy to see her up in the 20s.
27. Sharon Van Etten - Your Love Is Killing Me
Man, how did so many artists that came from the early 2010s release great, sweeping tracks this year without my noticing?
26. Beyoncé - Partition
Oh 'yoncé! Historically, this sort of placement is key in throwing me off (see: Drake / Vamp Weekend tracks last year). Is this their top pick from this album? After reading the blurb, it's pretty hard to say. Could there be a 2014 tracks list without Drunk in Love??
25. Vic Mensa - Down on My Luck
24. St. Vincent - Digital Witness
This is great. I haven't thought about this much as an individual track (or looked into its lyrics) but I see myself enjoying this even more as I give the record more attention, as I'll inevitably do in 2015.
23. “Never Catch Me” by Flying Lotus feat. Kendrick Lamar
A solid pick from this album. That said, I feel like teh brilliance of Flying Lotus is often underreported in hip hop journalism, and including his track with Kendrick makes this feel a bit more like Kendrick's the one getting the #23 slot here.
22. “Don’t Wanna Lose” by Ex Hex
Ex Hex had better not end up being a one-off, as Wild Flag was. We need more of this!
21. SOPHIE - Lemonade/Hard
While listing two songs in one slot screams 'cop out', I feel like I get this. They're elevated in each other's context, and they're both so darn great it's hard to choose one or the other.

Alright. I didn't do too well on this last year, but I'm feeling pretty good about my predictions for the top 20 slots. Here are the songs I suspect will fill P4k's top 20 songs, with a bonus reserve of 10 backups:

Parquet Courts - Instant Disassembly
Hannah Diamond - Every Night
Ben Frost - Venter
Real Estate - Crime
Frankie Cosmos - Birthday Song
FKA Twigs - Video Girl
Body Betrays Itself
Sheer Mag - What You Want
Burial - Come Down To Us - snubbed last year--on this year's list????
Sia - Chandelier

20. Swans - A Little God In my Hands
19. Todd Terje - Johnny and Mary
18. Vince Staples - Limos
17. Tinashe - Pretend ft ASAP Rocky
16. Lil B - No Black Person is Ugly
15. Mas Ysa - Shame
14. Perfume Genius - Queen
13. Panda Bear - Mr Noah
12. Shmoney Dance
11. Sleater Kinney - Bury Our Friends
10. Future - Move That Dope
9. Run the Jewels - Close your eyes
8. Young Thug - Danny Glover
7. SKM - Song remains the same
6. QT - Hey QT
5. Caribou - Can't Do Without You
4. Beyonce - Flawless (or XO or Drunk in Love or 7/11)
3. Red Eyes
2. iLoveMakonnen - Tuesday
1. FKA Twigs - Two Weeks

20. Nicki Minaj - Boss Ass Bitch (Remix) [ft. PTAF]
Wups, forgot about Nicki Minaj.
19. Sun Kil Moon - Carissa
Hmmmmm. This is what Will said would be on the list. It's #19, though--I feel like that secures a SKM track in the top ten.
18. Panda Bear - Mr Noah
This is soooooo goooooooooood. I can't wait for the album!
17. Tinashe - 2 On [ft. Schoolboy Q]
Aah! I guessed the wrong Tinashe track. W/E dude. This is a better pick, anyhow.
16. Young Thug - Stoner
Aaah! I guessed the wrong Young Thug track. W/E dude. This is a better pick, anyhow.

OW. that hurt - 1/5, and even that 20% was five off. Re-ranking:

15. Todd Terje - Johnny and Mary
14. Lil B - No Black Person is Ugly
13. Mas Ysa - Shame
12. Perfume Genius - Queen
11. Shmoney Dance
10. Sleater Kinney - Bury Our Friends (is this too destined for next year's list?)
9. Future - Move That Dope
8. Run the Jewels - Close your eyes
7. SKM - Song remains the same (still holding out on this)
6. QT - Hey QT
5. Caribou - Can't Do Without You
4. Beyonce - Flawless (or XO or Drunk in Love or 7/11)
3. Red Eyes
2. iLoveMakonnen - Tuesday
1. FKA Twigs - Two Weeks

15. Lil B - No Black Person Is Ugly
Yes!!! Thank you LIL B for giving me something to believe in
14. QT - Hey QT
I guess #6 was pretty ambitious for this song. Looking back at old lists, most top-ranking QT-like songs were in the 11-20 range.
13. Todd Terje - Johnny and Mary [ft. Bryan Ferry] (Robert Palmer cover)
Hey hey! Things are getting better (for my guesses and also for the songs listed)
12. Drake - 0 to 100 / The Catch Up
LEAVE IT TO DRAKE to come out of nowhere (OK, I get it--he and this song is everywhere and it's my fault) and foil my attempts to get a hold on what's quality these days.
11. Shamir - On the Regular
Iiiiiiiiiiinteresting. This one just narrowly missed my 21-30 'reserve' despite the fact that I don't really know it well. Maybe, then, Shamir will be for me next year what Sophie was this year -- an artist I more or less fell in love with after I listened to him the first time when he popped up out of nowhere in this list exercise.

A little bit better (3/5) but at this point I couldn't be surprised more than another time or two, right???? I'm going to reluctantly take out the Shmoney Dance and Perfume Genius. Waah! I hope I'm proved wrong on this.

10. Mas Ysa - Shame
9. Sleater Kinney - Bury Our Friends
8. Future - Move That Dope
7. Run the Jewels - Close your eyes
6. SKM - Song remains the same
5. Caribou - Can't Do Without You
4. Beyonce - Flawless (or XO or Drunk in Love or 7/11)
3. Red Eyes
2. iLoveMakonnen - Tuesday
1. FKA Twigs - Two Weeks

Here we go:

10. Michael Jackson - Love Never Felt So Good (Original Version)
LOL. Not sure this is fair, but whatever.
9. Future - Move That Dope [ft. Pharrell, Pusha T, and Casino]
Off by only 1 in my original ranking! Not bad.
8. Perfume Genius - Queen
Yay! This is good. 6 off from my initial ranking, but I'm relived to see PG here after Pitchfork's appalling snub of "Hood" in their end of year tracks list.
7. Beyoncé - ***Flawless [ft. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi]
Yes!! 3 off in the initial ranking. I'm not sure if I can keep her in my ranking for the top 5. We'll see when we get there.
6. Run the Jewels - Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck) [ft. Zack De La Rocha]
Yes! 3 spots off in the initial ranking as well. This is "a real barn burner"

Re-ranking the top 5, dropping Sleater Kinney (see you on this list next year!), Mas Ysa, and SKM (I want to drop Beyonce to keep it in the ranking, but it'd be risky move):

5. Caribou - Can't Do Without You
4. Red Eyes
3. Beyonce - Drunk in Love
2. iLoveMakonnen - Tuesday
1. FKA Twigs - Two Weeks

5. The War on Drugs - Red Eyes
WOOOOOOOO! For those keeping track at home, this blurb is where P4k makes a nod to the WoD/SKM garbage tossing. I knew it'd happen, even though I really wanted it to not come up. (2 spots off in original 30; 1 off in last 5)
4. Caribou - Can't Do Without You
Mmmm!!! So good. (1 spots off in original 30; 1 off in last 5). These last 5 have been fairly solid (though i wasn't sure which Beyonce track to rank highest) since the beginning--I'm still confident about Tuesday and Two Weeks' inclusion, but I'm not sure about the third and its placement.
3. FKA twigs - Two Weeks
OH GOD!!!! This is not what I wanted. Now I have no idea what to put in the mystery slot. I'm going to stick with Beyonce, because to put Song Remains the Same and Tuesday as #1 or #2 would just be too good. That said, it's as possible as ever that something will come out of nowhere at me, like Drake did last year. (2 spots off in the original 30 and in the last 5)
2. iLoveMakonnen - Club Goin Up on a Tuesday [ft. Drake]
This is such a beautiful ranking. 10/10, perfect track. (0 spots off in the original 30 and last 5)

Uuuuuuuuuuuugh if it's not Beyonce I have no idea what to think about anything any more.

1. Future Islands - Seasons (Waiting on You)

WOW. If you would have asked me what 2014's top song was at any point this year, even(/especially!) in January, I would have given this answer with no hesitation. A funny thing happens when you make lists like this, though--it's easy to focus on things in front of you without realizing what you'd missed. In this instance, "Seasons" by Future Islands somehow wasn't one of the 60 songs I wrote down for the longlist of 30 candidates for top 20, so I didn't include it in any of my calculations or anticipations. I feel a strong temptation to just edit all of my answers to include it here, at the first place spot where it obviously belongs. I also feel a strong temptation to just not publish this dumb post. That said, it's whatever, so here it is, as an act of public self-shaming: I'm a big ol dummy, and I've been waiting on you!

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