The next couple of weeks, in this publication and in virtually every other outlet as well, will yield an endless flurry of year-end lists. Some will be interesting, a lot will be informative, and more than anything else, they will all be seriously subjective. Or even downright wrong, depending who you ask. As I wrote on Twitter last week, “If there was more integrity in media, year-end Best Of… lists would be Our Favorite… lists. For example, Our Favorite New Restaurants of 2017 instead of The Best New Restaurants, which is pretty darn presumptuous, even obnoxious.”
I love year-end lists, especially arcane ones. My favorite of all time was “The Year in Nicolas Cage” by my former Boston Phoenix colleague Eugenia Williamson, while my personal tradition is to round up all the things that have been banned across the country over the past year. What I really can’t stand, however, are compendiums that serve no purpose beyond getting a click for some meaningless site or another, helping temporarily fatten the latest LA- or NY-based “it” pub pumping thousands into social media and pennies into editorial. Keep a lookout for these clowns between now and the end of the year; they’ll be the ones trying to tell you that the best appliances or whatever the fuck else of 2017 all just happen to be made by their sponsors.
Look, we’re going to feature a few of these rundowns and lists in the Dig too. We’re even starting this week with a spread by our talented music photographer Tim Bugbee, who pulled out his best shots of the year from venues all around the region for a special feature. But here’s the thing, here’s what I’m trying to say—we aren’t out here claiming that they are the best concert pics of the year or anything else. They’re awesome photos, and I would put them up against anyone else’s, but unless somebody went through every last image snapped at every concert that’s happened since January, they couldn’t possibly make such a superlative determination. It’s purely speculation.
Hear me out—I think it’s great that there are so many available options so as to render it truly impossible to ascertain in any meaningful way which creatives should be touted above and beyond their contemporaries. Even though the less enlightened fools among us—especially out in the ’burbs—still worship mainstream garbage, from their music to their movie tastes, thanks to open distribution and platforms that make rare and independent material much easier to access than back the ’90s, way more people have incorporated dignified eclectic sights and sounds into their daily diet. If you don’t believe me, just ask any 10 people under 30 years old who their favorite musicians are, and watch them each give a different response. Some people still worship gods like Taylor Swift and Jay Z, but in a day and age when random podcasts sell out major theaters, there’s very little, entertainmentwise, for those of us who eschew mass market nonsense to whine about.
With that said, if someone’s year-end list has the generic likes of a Taylor Swift on it, I at least hope you realize that they are an amateur critic at best, probably know nothing about the innumerable local and underground artists who deserve such acclaim, and aren’t worthy of the time you took to click their link.
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.