This post originally appeared on VICE UK
As 2014 slams the brakes on, editors the breadth of the land put their feet up on the desk and just serve you some reconstituted yesterdays: top-10-20-30-50-100 countdowns of stuff that happened over the past 12 months. But as you grind your way through one end-of-year music supplement banging on about Twigs's re-sexing up of pop and Aphex Twin's continuing influence after another, your eyes go oblong and there's a sense of intense, giddying deja vu. Haven't we seen it all before? In every other magazine/paper/webzine/cereal box? Like, every year? Forever?
Slice through the crap: This truly is The Only Top 51 Albums Of The Year Countdown You'll Ever Need.
51: The only one of the acts from the publication's January "Ones To Watch" feature not to be dropped.
50: The theoretical position of the Aphex album if he'd released it at the maximum inflection point of the public's indifference curve, i.e. five years after Drukqs.
49: A record that arrived at that weird week in mid-January where an utterly empty release schedule means the press must lionize any old shit just to fill the blank space they still have for a 900-word review.
48: Morrissey's pre-ordained position, after a secret meeting of the music business conspiracy against him decided to tighten the screws a bit.
47: Perfume Genius
46: Credible dance producer secretly praying his label doesn't decide to put out the Sam Smith "feat" he did back when Sam was still "the cool guy from Disclosure."
45: U2, with boxout thinkpiece on "their mad iTunes gamble that paid off."
44: Label's street team already trying to give them a push as "the biggest Ello artist of 2015."
43: Uncomfortable moment we've all been anticipating: the advent of grime musicians with bona fide legacy-act status.
42: Dean Blunt
41: Rapper who dials up his publicist every week asking why she hasn't done more to push his raw, courageous opinions on Ferguson.
40: The theoretical position of the Aphex album if he'd dropped Syro a square and career-minded two years after Drukqs.
39: Artist thanking lucky stars their tax avoidance was in a marginally different Jersey scheme to Take That and Arctic Monkeys.
38: Token African world musos. Copy features jibe at Bob Geldof (via haughty lionizing of "the real Africa").
37: Old-timer with sixth "bold return to form" of the past ten years, each worse than the last.
36: If you actually listened to this in 2014, you have multiple DrownedInSound forum handles and occasionally use them simultaneously to "win" arguments by complex sock-puppetry.
35: Jessie Ware or Katy B
34: Leonard Cohen
33: Brian Eno/Karl Hyde or Scott Walker/Sunn O)))
32: Have featured in at least three "Finally, meet the groups bringing politics back into music" pieces by John Harris.
31: Sorry, but who the fuck is actually listening to Bombay Bicycle Club?
30: Everyone only heard about this because it seemed to be going through the roof on Metacritic. That's right: a haphazard scattering of random nerds at the Tallahassee Gazette, the New England Reader, Shizzle Magazine and cokemachineglow.com coincidentally boned this record, and now it is somehow a big deal for wider culture.
29: Ariel Pink
28: Album still rocking the same sparse "future R&B" thing from five years ago, despite the fact that real-life R&B's future has turned out to consist of Rita Ora and "All About That Bass."
27: Features someone who used to be in Late Of The Pier hoping no one will notice their third-time-lucky indie career.
26: Features someone who used to be in Joe Lean & the Jing Jang Jong hoping no one will notice their third-time-lucky indie career.
25: Unexpectedly high appearance for old timer with an insufferably bland solo career so he can be softened up to win the "legacy/lifetime achievement" award next year.
24: 90s act now reviewed far better than they ever were in their supposed heyday, when they were treated as a contemporary artist, rather than now, as a misty-eyed nostalgia mercy fuck.
23: Peaking Lights
22: Despite glib lionizing by the commentariat, if anyone had ever attempted a detailed reading of the lyrics sheet, they'd soon see that the "feminist statement" the critics gushed about can be most charitably summarized as: "Girls rock!!!! Having a fanny is totally boss!!!"
21: Sign of the times story of how they met: "We were both retrenched as A&Rs by major labels on the same day."
20: Band whose publicist thought it'd be a really good idea if they strongly criticized Taylor Swift re: Spotify, really wishing all those .001-cent additional Spotify plays their widely publicized soundbites generated would sum into something they could eat right about now.
19: Whichever scratchy band of no-marks has managed to make one scratchy C86 garage-pop song that sounds marginally different to every other scratchy C86 garage-pop song you've heard in your entire life forever. Alvvays, Ex Hex, whathaveyou...
18: "Barnstorming" appearance on a US chat show doing exactly what they'd done day after day on tour for five years when all these suddenly hip media praise-singers were listening to fucking Purity Ring instead.
17: Pitchfork-approved trap.
16: Pitchfork-approved hardcore.
15: Pitchfork-approved Pitchfork music.
14: Singer-songwriter croaking out something dusty-earnest on Saddle Creek or Bella Union that ultimately does little to disguise the fact they're Ben Howard with a mouthful of Temazepam: Yup, the year's inexplicable folk biggie has landed.
13: Flying Lotus
12: Ominous point in human history where people voting for Iggy Azalea as a joke meets people voting for Iggy Azalea because they are deadly serious. This is basically how the Nazis got power.
11: Actual bullshit.
10: Run The Jewels
9: Ethereal. Ghostly. Diaphanous. Luminescent. Spectral. "Creates worlds." Record that has all the critics reaching for their thesaurus to see if they can find a word they haven't used for "very dull and ponderous."
8: They will play Field Day 2015 and no one will go.
7: The actual position of Aphex Twin album owing to giant psychic bounce because of extraordinary time lag between releases.
6: The rap "party album of 2014" that makes you wince imagining the parties of the Hackney media elite: three worse-for-wear unpaid editorial assistants in ratty 90s skirts self-consciously "working it out" to this alleged "booty music" at 1AM around a laptop in a dingy Clapton flat above a chicken shop while gak talks unto gak about Russell Brand and house prices.
Numbers 2 - 5: Records that were OK: No one was mad about them, but no one disliked them much either, so they swam through the middle course, whereas intense records that some people were truly passionate about but others really hated all ultimately failed to make the cut.
NUMBER 1: Coldplay (Q), Jack White (NME), Sven Vath (Mixmag), FKA Twigs (Pitchfork) Neil Young (Uncut), Neil Young (Mojo), Neil Young (Classic Rock), Neil Young (Home & Garden), some bloke humming transcendentally over distorted tape loops of concrete being laid (The Wire).
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