The Final Countdown

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WXPN, the AAA Format radio station here in Philadelphia, finished their countdown of the 50 Greatest Albums of 2004 (as voted by you the listeners!) by playing the top 10 CDs in their entirety on New Years Day. Since I had posted about my ballot, I thought I'd revisit the topic.

First, here is my top 10 (and how they did on the countdown):
1. Van Lear Rose - Loretta Lynn.
WXPN rank: 7

2. A Ghost is Born - Wilco.
WXPN rank: 5

3. Good News for People Who Love Bad News - Modest Mouse.
WXPN rank: 12

4. Around the Sun - R.E.M.
WXPN rank: 21

5. How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb - U2.
WXPN rank: 1

6. The Ride - Los Lobos.
WXPN rank: 24

7. The Revolution Starts Now - Steve Earle.
WXPN rank: 32

8. Drag It Up - Old 97's.
WXPN rank: 15

9. Lonely Runs Both Ways - Alison Krauss and Union Station.
WXPN rank: 33

10. Silence Is Easy - Starsailor.
WXPN rank: Did not make it!

Now here is 'XPN's top ten:

1. How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb - U2. I can't complain about this one getting the top spot, especially after finally hearing the whole thing. I do disagree with the critics that call this album the band's best. I don't know which of their great albums is their best, but this ain't it.

2. Twentysomething - Jamie Cullum. A little surprised this came in so high. I think there is always a shocker like this near the top of the 'XPN list because the album was plenty of listeners ninth or tenth-best pick, so it made a lot of ballots. I think Cullum is almost as good as Harry Connick Jr. was good at his age (Connick put out an album called 20 from when he was twentysomething - I' ll take that over this). The 'XPN website compares Cullum to Steely Dan. Ummm, no.

3. The Battle For Everything - Five For Fighting. For the love of God, will someone please please please explain the popularity of this band among the (usually) intelligent 'XPN audience. Syrupy sweet songs sung in a sustained screech. (That poor alliteration was better than anything Five for Fighting frontman John Ondrasik has ever written.)

4. Feels Like Home - Norah Jones. Jones making it this high is not surprising, but neither was her album this year. Should have been called Feels Like Come Away with Me.

5. A Ghost is Born - Wilco. Happy to see this CD make it so high. Not what you would call an accessible album. I loved the fact that 'XPN was forced to play the joke song "Less Than You Think," with its eighteen minutes of feedback, on Saturday.

6. The Clarence Greenwood Recordings - Citizen Cope. I thought about putting this on my top ten, but to be honest by year's end I was pretty sick of hearing even his best songs. I'll still take G. Love's early stuff over this. Funny thing is that every time 'XPN plays Citizen Cope my seven-year-old thinks it's Eminem (is my son the only kid in his class not allowed to listen to Eminem?).

7. Van Lear Rose - Loretta Lynn. Should have been higher. What album is going to be talked about more in ten years, this or Five for Fighting's?

8. Hymns Of The 49th Parallel - kd lang. An alright album. It's pretty hard for a CD of covers to be so good that it's one of the years best (Shawn Colvin's 1994 album Cover Girl is the exception - by far her best work). I still long for cowgirl k.d. - circa 1989's Absolute Torch and Twang.

9. Shangri-La - Mark Knopfler. I'm so glad I got to listen to most of this Saturday. If I had heard more from this album it might have made my list. Knopfler's writing lately has been matching his best Dire Straits stuff (Love Over Gold, Making Movies).

10. Hopes And Fears - Keane. Another CD that suffered from limited play on 'XPN. It took a lot of faith from the listeners since "Somewhere Only We Know" was the only song from this album that made it onto 'XPN.

I'm a little surprised that Starsailor's Silence Is Easy and Air's Talkie Walkie (my eleventh pick) didn't make the top 50 at all, but I'm floored that Elliot Smith's posthumous From a Basement on the Hill didn't either. It topped a lot of year-end lists and got a lot of airplay. It's really not that bad an album - I burned it from a friend and while I'm not a big Smith fan, I'd say it's probably his best stuff. And, as you might have guessed, it's a hell of a lot better than Five For Fighting.


At 11:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really good analysis, Mark. My 3-year-old would have included the Beastie Boys on her list, as she considers "Ch-Ch-Check It Out" "her song." --Tom


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