I hope you like bar graphs.
I thought we did a pretty good job with our predictions, but as it turns out, maybe we don’t deserve that much credit. Despite Pitchfork’s reputation for being deliberately contrarian, the site is actually fairly predictable.
I collected all of the data from Pitchfork’s Best New Music picks since 2003 (the year site started handing out that label). Over the past eight years, the site has been consistent with the number of BNM picks per year and how many show up on the their 50 Best Albums lists.
I also suspected that albums were more likely to be BNM’d during the summer and late fall. I was close, with the big months being May and September. It’s likely that the biggest albums are released in late spring to ramp up toward the festival season, as well as September, since a lot of bands tour heavily in October in November.
I compared the average score of those bestowed with the Best New Music label by year. The trend is leaning toward lower and lower scores still garnering BNM over the years, but it’s only a trend of one tenths place difference. So not much to write home about.
And last, for funsies, I checked out the distribution of scores among BNM albums. Again, surprisingly consistent, with most albums in the 8.2 to 8.8 range. The distribution is scarily bell curve-like.
So there. If you (or other readers) are interested, here’s the link to the Google spreadsheet with all of the Best New Music data I collected. Feel free to toy around with the data.
My predictions are essential the same as yours, but re-arranged.
But I’d also say that Robyn and Big Boi are likely 11 and 12. (This sort of looks like the average of our best albums list.)
Hey Nick (Martens),
Pitchfork is running their year-end lists this week. They’ve already posted their favorite songs (Ariel Pink, not much of a shocker), and this Thursday and Friday they’ll list the year’s best albums. So before we get into a discussion of year-end lists, the influence of Best New Music, and Pitchfork’s consistency throughout the year, I thought I’d ask: what are your predictions for Pitchfork’s top 10 albums?
Funny you should ask. I recently made a big, life-changing switch in my reading habits.
I should probably start by stating my preference for desktop apps over web apps. I use a desktop client for Gmail and Twitter rather than their web interfaces, and I have never used Google Reader with any frequency. For a long time, I read my feeds through NetNewsWire, which has always been a wonderful piece of software.
But every few months, I started to feel overwhelmed by my RSS feeds. I would then go on an unsubscribing spree in an attempt to reclaim my sanity.
So last summer I decided to try Fever, an RSS reader designed by Shaun Inman. Not only is it web-based, but you have to install it on your own server space. And yet Fever has CHANGED MY LIFE FOREVER.
The brilliant thing about Fever is the way it lets you separate the feeds you want to read everyday from the ones you visit with less frequency. As far as I know, it’s the first feed reader that allows you to treat feeds differently, which is surprising because why would anyone want to read every site the same way? There’s also a nice feature that shows you the most-linked sites/articles from your subscriptions (our Best New Blogs piece currently sits at the top of that list). The interface is also better designed and more responsive than Google Reader.
I also went one step further.
I used to organize NetNewsWire by category, which seemed to make sense at the start — all the tech blogs go in one folder, all bookish stuff in another, and so on. But some workdays are busier than others, so I realized that when I didn’t have time to read everything, the only tech blog I wanted to read was Daring Fireball, The Millions covered all of my book needs, etc. So I reorganized my feeds by priority — numbered from 1 to 3.
Stuff I want to read everyday, so for days that are busy, I can read my favorites.
The rest of the sites I keep up regularly. I’d say I read about 2/3 of the content these guys run.
Mostly new additions and sites I want to just keep tabs on, but not necessarily dedicate my time to.
I also have a folder called Friends, which mostly has abandoned Tumblrs and travel blogs from personal friends that I felt obliged to subscribe to. It currently has over 700 unread items…
How about you? I noticed that the number of feeds you subscribed to doubled from last year. How did your RSS habits change in 2010?
Glad YOU asked.
Patrick Wolf’s “Time of My Life” is NOT a Dirty Dancing cover. Which is too bad, but this new song is pretty good too. It doesn’t stray too far from Wolf’s sound — which has always brought my to mind the words “orchestra” and “orgy” — but “Time of My Life” reveals a more vulnerable Wolf. The track comes from an untitled new album that’s supposed to come out sometime next year. I can’t wait.
But seriously, he should do that Dirty Dancing song.
I just got a copy of 20 Under 40: Stories from The New Yorker, which features short works from young writers the magazine believes will be “the future of American fiction.” (It says that on the back of the cover.) With the exception of Jonathan Safran Foer, Gary Shteyngart, and maybe a few others, the book introduces new, unfamiliar names. Or at least they’re new to me.
The predictions are bold, but the last time The New Yorker made its 20 Under 40 picks was in 1999. That list predicted four of the past decade’s Pulitzer Prize winners, with a majority of the rest — including George Saunders, Sherman Alexie, Rick Moody, Jonathan Franzen, and DFW — establishing themselves as household names too. It’s likely these picks are at least in part self-fulfilling, but it doesn’t make them any less accurate.
That clip of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon doing their Michael Caine impressions got linked around quite a bit a few weeks ago, but a lot of people failed to mention that it comes from a wonderful new BBC comedy called The Trip.
The concept is interesting: Coogan and Brydon, as themselves, are on a restaurant tour in northern England. Their relationship is somewhat strained by mutual jealousy and respect; the centerpiece of each episode is their improvised dinner conversations, which features plenty of clever banter and many more impressions (Ray Winstone, Al Pacino, and Stephen Hawking to name a few).
And though it’s a self-conscious comedy, there’s a bit of an emotional core, as Coogan tries to resolve things with his ex-girlfriend. All of these elements seem sort of disparate, and yet The Trip is the most organic, understated comedy series in a long time.
Unfortunately, you can’t watch it in the U.S. yet, so I’ve been downloading it from that bittorrent site Buccaneer Cove or whatever it’s called.
I’m working through the five-episode Tales of Monkey Island, the lovely revival of the classic LucasArts adventure series. I remember the first time I played The Curse of Monkey Island when it came on the demo disc of an issue of PC Gamer. Luckily, the new Monkey Island holds up much better than PC Gamer. It’s clever, nostalgic, and each episode only takes a couple hours to beat, perfect if you want to feel like you’re accomplishing something on a Sunday afternoon.
I still rely on free walkthroughs from GameFAQs as much as I did as a kid (although who could really figure out that you’re supposed to light a Bomb with the Grease Fire, use it with the Frilly Pink Underwear, then scale the Clothesline to commandeer a pirate ship?). But that never really diminished the experience. Monkey Island is just as funny as ever, or at the very least, I’m proud I never outgrew it.
What are you listening to/reading/watching/playing at the moment?
After much deliberation, here’s my pick:
Hypnotic seamlessness + specific pop culture reference + shredded foot = the greatest GIF of all time.
And your pick?
The greatest GIF of all time? You might as well ask me about the meaning of life (spare me the obvious Hitchhiker reference). But I like the ambition of the question. So I talked to a couple friends who were better informed on the subject.
When I asked Lisa, one of my old coworkers at I Can Has Cheezburger (that’s right, readers: I used to work with LOLcats FOR A LIVING), she sent me an email prefaced by: Warning I think children getting hurt is one of the funniest things ever.
Which made me laugh so hard that I had to recite twelve Hail Marys out of guilt. But does the greatest GIF of all time necessarily mean it’s the most LOLarious?
Kevin: So what is it that makes a great GIF?
Kevin: I feel like I know it when I see it, but I don’t understand what makes it great
Garland: like, there was this great gif of lil wayne where he is skipping down the hall, and if they had looped it correctly, he would have appeared to skip forever.
Garland: But no, it was jerky.
Kevin: It’s more hypnotic when it’s seamless, I suppose
Garland: But also, a single loop just shows a single action or emotion, but a loop that contains more than one action can trick the brain into seeing life. Like that one Dustin Hoffman gif [from If We Don’t Remember, Remember Me] is pretty fuckin’ money.
The most fascinating GIFs are those subtle, seamless ones. You can lose a lot of time staring blankly at the hypnotic loops of sites like If We Don’t Remember, Remember Me or Give me that old time religion (lots of boobs, NSFW), which Garland showed me.
Kevin: What about using GIFs as a reaction
Kevin: like shorthand, maybe not too different from using an emoticon?
Garland: yeah, but it’s a really complex emoticon, because it has its own cultural interconnectiveness
Garland: like, take a Tyra hair flip gif
Garland: depending on the message that prompted it, that gif is a completely different message
Kevin: Actually, the meaning to me isn’t obvious with this Tyra gif
Kevin: so what’s a situation when you would use it?
Garland: If someone was complaining about someone else being an asshole, but resolving they weren’t going to allow it to faze them, this gif is the perfect show of solidarity.
Garland: For a moment, they see that image and know exactly what I am saying, even if the message isn’t textual
Kevin: Yeah, I can see how that GIF would be perfect in that situation
Kevin: it’s interesting how it makes no sense on its own
GIFs are able to get across a single feeling immediately, which is why we often employ them like emoticons. But GIFs are able to be far more nuanced and culturally self-conscious than your Gchat smiley faces.
What about when the feeling is beyond words? While emoticons represent basic emotions, with as few as two frames, GIFs can evoke something far deeper, more ambiguous. There are those loops that you don’t quite understand — especially abstract ones — so you stare at them, hoping that a concentrated gaze might reveal some secret meaning.
And you stare and you stare and you stare until you realize you’re gazing at infinity.
Let me start with your second question: what is my digital self like? I went through my Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook profile and here’s what I learned about myself.
While all of these things are accurate, they don’t necessarily say much about me. In fact, I think judging these different outlets by how true-to-life they are is the wrong question. Instead, let’s talk about what’s interesting (or interestingness, as dubbed by Flickr). Here are the things I personally find interesting, as illustrated by my fancily designed infographic.
(For Starcraft 2 fans, I want to point out that this was drawn on my Jim Raynor notepad.)
I think blogs and Twitter are the best ways to learn about a personality. A blog might be an unfair inclusion in this picture, since it encompasses so many different things, but it’s the most “open” in terms of format and has the most potential for interestingness. But how unrestricted a format is doesn’t necessarily correlate to how powerful it is as a medium. Twitter’s 140-character limit tends to make personalities more interesting, and the ability to @reply and get a response makes someone’s Twitter account just as compelling as his/her blog.
Where does VYou fit in? I think it’s a little less interesting than Twitter, but slightly more so than Tumblr (I thought of Tumblr like a more restricted, faceless blog).
And in the bottom left is Facebook. Profiles are static, not to mention extremely bland. Sure, you get an accurate image of what people look like when they’re drunk, but it turns out everyone looks the same when they’re shit-faced. In fact, there’s no way to be an interesting person on Facebook, even if it’s theoretically an “accurate” portrayal of who you are.
Apologies for the distraction Nick,
I completely agree that 9 out of 10 questions during the Q&A sections of lectures/panels are painful (red flag: when anyone says “this is more of a comment than a question”). But before I could respond to your post, one of our tumblr followers, Ben Miller, wrote a great answer:
VYou will only give you answers to questions the respondent feels are worthy or relevant, not always the best questions. In a live setting you’re forced to tackle questions that are uncomfortable but illuminating or dull but expansive and so forth.
(Behold the power of reblogging!)
VYou eliminates the most exciting part of a live event: the chance to ask the hard questions. And though the majority of questions asked are impossibly stupid, isn’t it worth it for that one toughie?
The weird thing is that all of the “featured” profiles on VYou are internet-famous people — the kinds of folks who would probably answer any email question you sent them. So what’s the advantage of asking a question on VYou — the video response? simply the anonymity?
Granted, asking anonymous questions does have its advantages. It prevents people from shamelessly plugging themselves or trying to prove to the speaker that they’re a superfan, which I think are the two biggest problems at live Q&A events. And there’s something to be said about the weirdly successful format of Formspring, which VYou closely mimics.
But anonymity is also part of the problem because it encourages users to respond to silly, trivial questions rather than the tough ones because they’re answering to no one. Truthfully, I can only listen Jason Chen answer questions like “front to back, or back to front wiper?” for so long. I want to hear if he’s AFRAID OF GOING TO JAIL. My girlfriend, who has a strange fascination with Rex Sorgatz (should I be worried?), asked him about his Silly Bandz.
Do you think VYou is the next big thing? Could it gain major traction if, say, Justin Bieber joined, or is it better off catering to web personalities?