My 2000 Village Voice Pazz and Jop Poll Ballot

Written for the Village Voice on January 08, 2001
See, the dirty secret about Napster, the thing Iíve not read in all of the dozens of articles, is that, as a piece of software, it pretty much sucks right now. Sure, itís world-changing and all of that, but it just doesnít work all that well: people go on and off, or are there and simply unconnectable for some reason. And was there anything more frustrating in the Year 2000 than the ubiquitious "Returned 100 Results" search message?

In the end, right here right now, itís the idea of Napster, as opposed to the reality, that is so appealing. But what should really scare the record companies isnít so much Napster, but that Napster is one of a half-dozen ways that I acquired music online this year. Thereís also email, ftp, Usenet, Hotline and just the plain old World Wide Web. And I wasnít even trying. If and when Napster gets good, forget about it, the partyís over, and will the last person to purchase a $20 CD turn out the lights please.

Which might be awhile, of course, because -- for most of us -- downloading music is a somewhat frustrating and definitely time-consuming hobby. Because the landscape is ever- changing, and some nugget youíve been searching for -- the first two Rank and File albums! -- could suddenly show up at any time, there for the taking.

After all, in a world where I can listen to a freshly burned CD of U2ís Irving Plaza show on my car CD changer the day after they played the show -- it having been posted to Usenet practically as it was happening, all of the record-company co-opting of Napster ainít gonna help. Better to go the Pearl Jam route, and flood the market with their own cheap bootlegs -- which was the coolest, most anti-Metallica gesture of the year. But of course, other people no doubt ripped those bootlegs and posted them. And so it will go.

The people who are probably really out in the lurch are the bootleggers. While top-notch quality and liner notes and photos are reasons to pay for commercially available CDs, the huge majority of bootlegs donít come with such, and, so there is no reason to pay for them at all.

One more thing to worry about: as the musical choices expand towards infinity and the time to listen shrinks towards zero, are we all going to naturally retreat deeper and deeper into our own individual turfs? I felt like that this year, what with U2 and Lloyd Cole and Rancid, and even Teenage fucking Fanclub all making my top 10, though only Rancid has been consistent for me in the last past decade, and others like Everclear and the Jayhawks and PJ Harvey have never even come close. But still, some of these people have been making music for longer than Britney has been alive.

Anyways, hereís the list:

Albums:
U2 All That You Canít Leave Behind 15
Lloyd Cole The Negatives 14
Everclear Songs From an American Movie Vol 1: Learning How to Smile 13
The Jayhawks Smile 12
Radiohead Kid A 11
Aimee Mann Bachelor No. 2 09
PJ Harvey Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea 08
Teenage Fanclub Howdy! 07
Rancid Rancid 06
Outkast Stankonia 05

"Singles"


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