Tomorrow evening celebrates both the first night of Hanukkah, and the first day of our SFCritic’s Top 8 Hanukkah countdown. For the next eight business days, Eve and I will each publish a selection from our list. Instead of just giving you our top albums, we’ve decided to also share our thought process in compiling our selections.
This being my first “top list” I struggled with the relevancy of my picks. Amongst the pool of millions doing the exact same, is it really even worth adding ANOTHER list. Do I separate with individualized picks, look to the group for approval, or simply wing-it? When this is all said and done I’ll likely have created a smorgasbord of the above. As I searched through my albums, my main criterion was, “Did I listen to this album a lot?” Now prepare for the favorites of 2009.
When going through a whole year of albums, it can be quite overwhelming. Choosing favorites when the calendar has just one page can either be an exercise in restraint or a chance to lament “how much better last year was”. I honestly feel a little bit of both with regards to what 2009 had to offer. That said, I used the following criteria to determine which albums I thought were this years’ shining stars.
Of the many albums released this year that I listened to, they could score up to 5 points. The ones you see here are those that got all 5 points. Simple as that.
1. Did I actually listen to the whole thing? Did I listen to it more than once? There are no albums on my list that I have not listened to all the way through, more than once.
2. For veterans, did I think it was as good/better than an artists previous work? The “sophomore slump” is real, y’all, and should not be rewarded, no matter how great the band can be.
3. For newbies, did they put out something so good I will actually look forward to the follow-up? This also helped me narrow down my picks for “breakout” artists of 2k9.
4. Did the album garner a lot of critical AND popular praise this year? Albums’ cultural capital can sometimes be greater than the sum of their parts. I used this primarily as bonus points for albums already picked for the list.
5. Totally subjective emotional response: do I just really love this album? Yes? Game on.