Monday, December 14, 2009

List Mania

This is the time of year when we are inundated with lists, and this being the end of the decade, it's worse than usual. It's easy to understand why editors and writers resort to making these lists. The holiday season is usually a low spot in the news cycle, so there is a dearth of content. You have to work harder to fill the blank space that stands between you and the door at the end of the day. To make it worse, your mind is elsewhere--holiday shopping, travel arrangements and all the other stuff you'd rather be doing. So you do what writers and editors always do when the demand for content far outstrips the supply. You make shit up. Or, as in the case of lists of the biggest/best of the year/decade lists, you repurpose what you've already done.

While all these lists are great for the writers and editors, they're pretty much crap for the reader or listener. At best they might spur some interesting conversation. At worst, they remind you of what you already know. Either way, at the end you know about as much as you did at the beginning.

By coincidence, there is one list just wrapping up this week that is paying attention to. At irregular intervals, over a year in the making, CBC Radio's The Sunday Edition host Michael Enright and Robert Harris identify 20 Pieces of Music that Changed the World. To their credit, they don't claim the list to be the best, the most important or all inclusive. What it is, unlike all the other lists you'll see this time of the year, is worth your while. It's well considered, well researched, thoughtfully presented and carefully crafted. Some of the music there I love. Some of the music there I really don't care for at all. For each piece, whether I liked it or not, I came away with a new appreciation and respect for the music.

Of all this lists you'll come across between now and January 2nd, this is the one worth paying attention to.