You’ll be listening to some Charles Mingus through this – the jazz giant and composer who’s easily as cool as Miles ‘Motherfucker’ Davis – because my dander’s up thanks to this Esquire list. (Also largely because when it comes to sick bass riffs, Mingus is the shit.)
The list – and I’m uncertain how old it is – purports to detail the 75 albums that every man should own. Which in itself is a bit of a shithouse premise, and leads me to assume there must be a list of the 75 albums that every woman should own, and they’re mostly going to be Kate Bush and Ricky Martin. Because you know, chicks like chick stuff and dudes like dude stuff and you should never cross the streams, as continually evidenced by lists like this other one, which claims that liking synth-pop ensures you’ll never get laid, and what’s wrong with you anyway? (It’s from 2009 but was in the recommended links section, so y’know.)
I suppose Esquire tries to shoot for the Like A Sir market, constructed upon What It Is To Be A Gentleman, closely related to the How To Dress Like You’re In Mad Men and How To Get A Six Pack In A Manner Totally Different To The One We Printed Last Month market, so the sort of scattershot commentary within is to be expected, but I’m pretty surprised at how some of these shake out. I mean, aside from not making sense (I’m not sure how the Stone Roses’ s/t disc can be called “Britpop’s platonic ideal”), there’s some pretty casual misogyny/minimisation going on, too. Take this blurb for The Velvet Underground & Nico:
Makes you think that a woman’s voice could do any rock band good.
What, when she’s not making sandwiches or helping load in? (Quite aside from the fact Nico was just as terrifyingly laserbeam-focus as Reed.) Or this one, for an Ike & Tina Turner entry:
Because they never did anything nice… and easy. They only did it nice… and rough.
Because domestic violence, obviously.
But the creepiness of the list reaches its apex with the write-up for Liz Phair’s Exile From Guyville:
Liz Phair can make you feel ashamed to be a man. And to want to make it up to her.
As a guy I’m undoubtedly not really the person to discuss a woman’s experience in the world of music, but in the world of consumption (and noted titles telling their readers what they should consume), woman-as-window-dressing still continues. Hooray for the status quo, eh? (Something which occurs in classical music too, let you think this is just a three-chord problem.)
Aside from the this-should-stop creepiness, there’s the phoned-in. Minor Threat is lauded for their songs-to-album-length ratio. Nas’ The Illmatic gets
How to be an MC.
while the Traveling Wilburys disc receives
Because Dylan, Orbison, Petty, and Harrison.
Because The Internet.
Then, the list’s two classical entries – the fifth symphonies of Beethoven and Mahler – respectively receive
Beethoven at his most… Beethovenian.
In this piece of music is every emotion a man can experience.
respectively. No chicks in our treehouse, and be thankful we’re letting you in at all, symphonic nerds. Huh huh huh.
(That’s leaving aside the lack of recommended recording. I mean, they’re all the same, amirite?)
Add to that, some of the choices are just wank. Oh, Tom Waits is “anthems for the alcoholic”? (Quite aside for choosing Small Change over Bone Machine.) And you think Pearl Jam was the best band in the Seattle scene? And you actually chose Led Zeppelin’s first album over any others? And you went with that Dylan album? And there’s no Black Sabbath? No electro/dance? No Kraftwerk? Props for mentioning a chunk of Motown, soul and some hip-hop, but c’mon. This list is full of token shit, furthering the whole good-music-is-about-sad-drinking-or-partying ideas that seem so outdated, yet so prevalent.
I understand getting hot under the collar about this kind of stuff is pretty pointless and runs fairly counter to how I’m trying to live these days. But Jesus, some people. But apparently, Something Is Wrong On The Internet And I Must Intervene!
Perhaps I’m not the target audience, eh? But just imagine how different things could be if people were criticised properly on their throw-away clickbait shit, too.