2010 marks the 15th year I've produced an end-of-year best music list. The tradition started in 1996, when I was spending a lonely year in Dover, New Hampshire and probably had nothing better to do than analyze and compare albums relative to each other. Seriously, I don't know exactly how the idea first entered my head, but I'm pretty sure it had something to do with the fact that was the year I read High Fidelity.
Back in '96, and for the eight years that followed, it was a top ten list. For the first few years, I compiled a cassette tape highlighting my favorite songs from those albums and gave a copy to a select group of friends. I slacked off on the mix for a couple years—at least partly due to the fact Richard Buckner's 2000 release, The Hill, consisted of one 34-minute track—before introducing my first year-end CD compilation in 2001.
So, this will be the 10th year I've made the CD. The list expanded beyond the top ten format in 2005, which also prompted me to add a second disc to the mix. I've also been sending it out to a distribution list of 20-25 people for the past few years. If you're not among my regulars, and would like to be, please send me an email or leave a comment here.
This year's rankings are pretty close to being finalized. As was the case last year, I've settled on a top 33 as my ideal format. This allows me to feel confident it's a strong list, and also to fit at least one song by each artist onto a two-disc compilation, while allowing for two songs each from the top ten albums. Well, 43 songs on two CDs is a bit of a challenge, so last year I had to compromise a little and only include one song from the #10 album, but you get the idea.
Anyway, and more importantly, look for the annual countdown to kick off within the next couple of days, culminating with the announcement of my album of the year on New Year's Eve. As I may or may not have said before here, it's the most wonderful time of the year.
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