A common test strategy that I’ve heard been suggested is to quickly look over the choices and see if you can immediately eliminate an answer, because it’s just so egregiously incorrect or distorted from the perspective of the question. Sometimes you can eliminate one, sometimes you get lucky and you’re able to eliminate two. Apply that strategy to the Pitchfork Top 100 Albums of the Decade list. You’ll find at least 70-something wrong choices, if the question was “how many albums these past ten years were better than Jay-Z and Kanye West’s ‘Watch the Throne’ album?” Look I get it: in terms of commercial mainstream, it didn’t really get much air time; in terms of super-deep-philosophical hip-hop music, the album just didn’t have much substance to it.
Oh wait a minute, yes it did. I don’t have the space to make my point, but I will attempt to do so with these following two facts. First: their impossible-to-miss single, “In Paris,” was played 12 times consecutively. 12 times. In Paris. Second: Did I mention that song sampled “Blades of Glory”? Oh you knew that already? Well someone please remind Pitchfork.
By John Darr
Okay, Pitchfork, you’ve got a lot on your mind. You’re now less hipster, less cool, than almost every record you review. You have trouble getting the ladies, as demonstrated by your own People’s List. Even the Facebook comments on your reviews read like they’re written by the rockist youtube warriors we all laugh at. But don’t worry: your savior awaits. He is beautiful. He has magical violin fingers. His hair is glorious. His name is Kishi Bashi, and if you only reviewed his music, you’d be a happier, healthier, and more productive.
Joy. Love. More Joy. More Love. All this and more love shine through Kishi Bashi’s last two LP’s, 151a and Lighght. Glistening indie pop at its finest, singer songwriter Kauro Ishibashi’s music melds together the symphonic, acoustic, and maximalist tendencies of his peers into something far uncommonly unique and engaging. It’s not too late, Pitchfork. Kick Kanye Worst for Kishi Besti. He’s the one you can be proud of.
“Takyon (Death Yon)” — Death Grips
By Matt McMahon
Whether perusing or constructing “Best of” lists, I tend to hang onto the magnitude of scope and range necessary in order for an entry to be a worthy nomination. With music that usually entails its effecting degree of emotional resonance. While songs like “Interference Fits” by Perfect Pussy — the other PP song that Pitchfork should have chosen to represent the young band — and “Hot Knife,” the best song from Fiona Apple’s 2012 “The Idler Wheel…” overlooked by the publication, definitely deserve mentions for their heartbreaking vocal performances, lyrical content and uniquely searing instrumentation; the one song released between 2010 and the former half of 2014 to evoke, bar-none, the most intense, varying response is Death Grip’s world-shattering cut “Takyon (Death Yon).” Listening to the song pissed offers a vicarious outlet akin to a session of Grand Theft Auto, and listening to the song happy invokes the heart-racing, hot-faced smile of a frenzied sexual experience. Flatlander’s deliberate, agro bass synth pounding behind Zach Hill’s manic, marching drum fills score MC Ride’s booming, borderline psychopathic, screaming, which may very well be the most aggressive oral performance ever to be recorded. Death Grips exploded onto the scene in 2011 by converging these maniacal elements with a collective ear for blunt, shoutable hooks, giving anyone a dual-purpose soundtrack for either extreme catharsis or joy.
“The Mother We Share” — CHVRCHES
By Maddie Daly
I was disappointed to find CHVRCHES’ catchy tune “The Mother We Share” so low on Pitchfork’s top tracks list. Coming in at #191, this song has been stuck in my head since first discovering it and deserves to be in the double digits. It’s a poppy, bright electric beat with high-pitched enigmatic lyrics sung by band member Lauren Mayberry. The upbeat sound doesn’t quite match the depressing, creepy lyrics, but I think it’s an intentional contradiction that sheds light on the band’s lyrical talent. It’s a fresh sound unlike many songs on the list, and once you hear it you’ll be humming it all day long.
“Lemonade” — Gucci Mane
By Erin McAuliffe
I’ve got to put a word in for my Mane man, Gucci. Enshrined above my bed in a ravishing painting emphasizing his glorious ice cream cone tattoo, I am reminded daily of his perseverance — most recently, calling in an intro for his mixtape from jail.
The clever lyrics of his single, “Lemonade,” are engrained in my memory due to the fact that I memorized all of them as a freshman in high school to impress the attractive senior boy who took me home from cross-country practice. I remember the amp in the trunk pulsating the captivating beats to the front seat where I sat rattling off the list of yellow items, “yellow rims, yellow big booty” the lyrics flowing like the lemonade I rhymed about. Perhaps the memories I attach to the song influence my approval, but either way “Lemonade” should have made it on the list.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.