Metacritic Says 2009 Least Memorable of Decade?

I swear those mixes I talked about are on their way, but in the meantime I wanted to point out this absolutely baffling question posed by Metacritic concerning music in 2009:

“Will 2009 go down as the least memorable year in music of the past decade? Despite having many more albums to choose from (Metacritic scored 892 albums this year, up from 805 last year and well up from the 400-600 per year we averaged in earlier years), not a single qualifying new studio album achieved a score of 90 or above — the first time in our 10-year history that has happened. And only six of the 100 highest-scoring albums of the past decade were released in 2009.”

I don’t know how that can be. It makes no sense, really. 2009 was one of the best years for music I can remember. There are very few years in my memory that demanded I spend so much money on new music. So, I wonder why Metacritic saw such low scores for its highest-rated records? Compare their list to other lists that don’t collect their data from other websites. Brainwashed and Dusted Magazine are probably the two best sources for this sort of thing. Look at all the amazing music listed on both sites and the commentary made about some of the records. Now, think about all the great music that didn’t pop up on lists at either of those sites. I didn’t even get around to hearing TV Buddhas or Eternal Tapestry until the last couples weeks of the year and both of them released stupendous records. I’m sure there are many more records out there waiting for me. Everything points to the fact that 2009 was an excellent year for music.

How do we explain Metacritic’s rating hiccup then? Is it the fault of the scoring system itself? That might be it. Or it could be that many of these big publications are becoming lazy. There’s a big disparity between what showed up at Pitchfork, for instance, and what was covered by Dusted Magazine. Instead of looking for and reporting on new and exciting music, the more popular publications are sticking to well-trod paths and reviewing music with which everyone is familiar. Perhaps the writers are bored with finding new ways to lie and use superlatives where they don’t belong. Maybe Animal Collective’s new album just isn’t that good, but nobody could admit it.

Which brings me to my question: is 2009 the year big publications started to fall apart along with the rest of the music industry? Will small, more personal publications prove to be both the best source of information and the only survivors? Or is it just that everyone is bored with the same old thing and 2009 is the year that everyone realized it? I think the smaller, more personal websites and publications have always been better, but it could be that they’re the only ones left that are actively exploring music. Where Pitchfork and the AV Club once stood, perhaps only small websites and blogs will remain. I don’t think that’d be such a bad thing.

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3 comments

  1. Rating albums with numbers and percentages and stuff like that seems stupid to begin with, and trying to make an average of irrelevant ratings is just going to be even more irrelevant. Trying to take everyone and their mother’s opinion in account just waters everything down.

    Small and diverse publications trying to explore the world of music are more interesting to me than magazines only trying to set trends that they will then destroy a few years later in order to set more trends.

  2. i don’t have any real beef with aggregating scores like that, but i think their own top 20 highest reviewed puts their own complaints to shame. the variety there is fairly amazing (think about what it would have looked like ten years ago) even if it’s mostly not my thing.

  3. Their complaints/claims about 2009 are silly either way. The rating system is inherently flawed; I never pay attention to scores; I think the review should tell me whether or not someone liked it, which is all I really need to know. Descriptions are helpful.

    There is a lot of variety, but there’s also a lot music missing. Metacritic really isn’t to blame, the publications they source are. For all that variety, they’re still on catching on to the heavily publicized records.

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