An Alternate Approach to Best of the Year Lists

As I see the best of the year lists popping up, I once again think about another approach I wish critics would employ–namely, instead of identifying the best works relative to other works within a given year, identify the works in a given year that compare favorably with the all-time great works. One drawback here is that none of the works may meet this criterion. For me, I don’t see this as a drawback. Here’s the reason why (and this will explain my overall mindset with regard to this topic).

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How Was Barnes and Noble Able to Turn Things Around?

Barnes and Noble is doing so well financially that they plan to open thirty new stores in 2023. That caught my attention, and I think it’s great news. Why is the store thriving? That’s the question music critic, Ted Gioia, tries to answer in this post. I agree with some of the reasons he cites (e.g., appointing a better CEO who decentralized decision making), but I’m dissatisfied with the overarching reason he offers–namely, that the new CEO loves books.

In this thread, I’ll explain the reason I feel this way, as well as offer an alternate explanation that seems more compelling. (In spite of this slight disagreement, I recommend reading his post.) OK, let’s begin.

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Favorite Song in Intermediate School

I was recently asked this question, and I had a hard time answering it. In reality, I don’t think there’s an answer–that is, I didn’t have <i>one</i> favorite song. Indeed, I don’t have one all-time favorite song. It seems like an impossible question to answer.

And yet, I wanted to try and answer this, so the best song I could come up, within a relatively short time, was Toto’s “Africa.” Really, I think I could probably think of a better song to mention, but I was pressed for time.

But I’m not pressed for time now, so I want to see if I can find a better pick–i.e., a pick that comes closer to my favorite song–or, one of my very favorites–during the intermediate years.

What’s you favorite song during intermediate school years?

The Kalapana Thread

I’ve been listening to Kalapana’s first album, and while I looking at their discography on Apple Music, I noticed a lot of albums I never really listened to. I don’t think I realized they had so many especially in the late 70s and early 80s. In this thread, I plan to go through their discography, although I don’t know if I’ll make it all the way through.

Interesting Ways Blockchain and NFTs Could Impact Music

Music critic Ted Gioia had some ideas on the ways blockchain and NFTs can impact music–positively for both musicians and fans. I’m not comfortable with my knowledge of blockchain or NFTs, but based on what I know, Gioia’s speculations does generate some enthusiasm. I say more on this later, but I should also say that I have a heavy-dose of skepticism, with regard to a new financial model that will actually compensate musicians fairly. My cynical sense is that the corporations (and historically, the people with money) will ultimately find ways to exploit the artists. (A handful of individual artists may prosper, but many will not, including great artists who were ahead of their time.)

No, Music Isn’t Worse Than It Was in the Past

I can’t remember if I’ve written about this before, but I saw some interviews of musicians I respect, which reminded me of this topic. Both bemoaned the current state of music, one of them gloomily predicting the the end boundary-pushing. (This interview was from the 80s.) My sense is that the basis for their assessment stemmed from a comparison with the past. That is, they compared their perception and understanding of the music of the present relative to the music from the past. If this is accurate, I don’t think this is a good way to judge the present. Indeed, I think doing so leads to erroneous judgments and pessimism.

Now, let me make a few things clear. One, I’m not taking this position because I necessarily think the present moment is filled with great musicians and great music. Instead, I’m basing my position primarily on the way we perceive and understand both the present and the past. The difference, I think, primarily explains why the present seems bleak, relative to the past; and I’m going to explain that in this thread.

(Note: This applies to movies, and I would suspect most other art forms as well.)