First “Best of 2008” Album List Very Wrong, Very White

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


paste_logo2.gifKids, this right here is more proof that sometimes it’s better to take it slow than rush to be first. Stereogum points out that Paste Magazine is the first major publication to drop their “Best Albums of 2008” list, and while there are some good and interesting albums all up and down it, the order (and the omissions) are kind of head-slapping. Here’s their Top 10:

10 Deerhunter – Microcastle (Kranky)
09 Lucinda Williams – Little Honey (Lost Highway)
08 Sun Kil Moon – April (Caldo Verde)
07 Girl Talk – Feed the Animals (Illegal Art)
06 Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes (Sub Pop)
05. Okkervil River – The Stand Ins (Jagjaguwar)
04. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago (Jagjaguwar)
03. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend (XL)
02. Sigur Rós – Med sud i eyrum vid spilum endalaust (XL)
01. She & Him – Volume One (Merge)

You read that right: She & Him, #1 album of the year. My current top two faves, TV on the Radio and Portishead, landed at #50 and nowhere, respectively. And we all know how I feel about Sigur Ros. But there’s something even more nefarious about this list, and that’s its blinding whiteness.

Out of all the Top 50, I count only five albums with non-white contributors: two by Santogold, and one each from Lil Wayne, Thao Nguyen, and the TV on the Radio guys. Of course, one could note that three of those had major involvement from white people as well. Musical taste, and lists of this sort, are, obviously, subjective, and I don’t mean to levy any charges of racism at the fine folks at Paste. But I will levy charges of closed-minded stupidity. If they had named this the Top 50 Folk Albums of the Year, I might be more sympathetic, but clearly they’re making a half-hearted attempt to be musically inclusive. It’s symbolic that Girl Talk’s Feed the Animals landed at #7: while it’s a fine album of attention-deficit mashup ridiculousness, capturing some of the euphoria of his live shows, it mostly features hip-hop vocals, so it’s by far the highest placement of any non-white contributors on their list, if you want to think of it that way. I guess Paste likes their hip-hop well enough, but only if it’s scrubbed clean of its original thumpiness and layered over some classic rock?

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate