Yet another list created for men to argue over down the boozer
THE album 'Elephant' by the White Stripes has been voted as the best of the last 20 years in Mojo Magazine.
Never mind that it isn't and that the White Stripes were a band sorely in need of a bass player this ridiculous piece of news continues a tradition: the almost exclusively male obsession with 'The List'.
Magazines like Mojo and Q do this all the time. A few years ago it was 'OK Computer' by Radiohead was voted the best and before that it was 'What's the Story Morning Glory?' by Oasis.
Men love lists. I used to be obsessed with them myself and I still remember buying the 1987 Hot Press 'Best Albums of All Time' (not surprisingly it was 'The Joshua Tree' as opposed to 'Sgt Pepper' which usually always topped those '80s polls).
But as you get older, you realise that 'Sgt Pepper' is only an album and despite it's importance, it's not even the best album the Beatles ever made. Life changes, new works of art are made and yet we men obsess with giving things 'classic' status.
Take the movie magazine Empire. When asked to vote for their favourite films the readers generally put a Star Wars movie in the top ten, while 'Citizen Kane' comes in at Number 28. It's crazy, it's wrong, but that's democracy for you. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby brilliantly took on this list obsession: the hero reduced everything in his life (including his girlfriends) to 'Top Five' lists.
As for myself, I actually miss 'Top of the Pops' because it would be so exciting to see bands like the Boomtown Rats and The Shamen (remember them?) take on the establishment and get to Number One. Of course sport's a whole other ball game – witness the endless arguments about who the greatest footballer of all time is. Reams of stats are trotted out and games recalled, for no discernable purpose than to make middle-aged men feel superior to one another in the pub.
But worst of all are those interminable Channel 4 shows at Christmas that have minor celebrities banging on about their 'favourite Comedy moments of all time', which, as well as being turgid in itself, makes you lose all love for Comedy.
And let's not forge the 'Rich List' that comes out every year, just to rub a recession-weary population's face in it.
Thankfully, women don't really do the list thing. And even the ones who do are original in their thinking. The ultra-competitive nature isn't there, the need to rate and mark everything to within an inch of its life.
Unfortunately this means that women's music, movies, comedy and achievements get overlooked or grudgingly included, such as Joni Mitchell's 'Blue'. Joan Rivers is the funniest person alive, not that she'd end up in any Top Tens. At least Meryl Streep gets recognised, again and again, but to the exclusion of whom?
Men like lists because they want to put order on the world and make sure they are on the right side of history, even if it makes them walking cliches.
Once I worked my way through the top 100 albums, I began to explore other stuff and realised there was a whole world out there that doesn't make it onto these lists, a far more interesting one. At least the list got me going. But I think we need to grow up and stop trying to pack everything into an easy-to-understand box with a countdown.
The next time I see a magazine like Mojo doing something like this? They are going on my list ...