As the 2008 slams the brakes on, editors the breadth of the land put their feet up on the desk and just serve you some reconstituted yesterdays: top-10-20-30-50-100 countdowns of stuff that happened over the past twelve months. But as you grind your way through one end of year music supplement banging on about Kings Of Leon & MGMT after another, your eyes go oblong and there's a sense of intense, giddying deja vu. Haven't we seen it all before? In every other magazine/paper/webzine/cereal box? Like, every year? Forever?
Slice through the crap: this is The Only Top 35 Albums Of The Year Countdown You'll Ever Need.
Number 35: Bonkers novelty rap collective. Shows staff have sense of humour.
Number 34: Reserved for Britpop 'survivors' who’ve made 'their best album in years'.
Number 33: Wacky side-project of big-name band singer, which is a wacky electro-pop concept album about magic animals.
Number 32: Something from Iceland.
Number 31: The name that keeps turning up on every electro/house compilation CD released that year. eg. Simian Mobile Disco in 07.
Number 30: Real authentic alt.country dude who made the album in a cave in the Appalachians/once dated Joanna Newsom.
Number 29: Return of once-derided old-timer who used to symboise naffness, but has subverted expectations by making an album of honest, brooding ballads with a hip young producer.
Number 28: This space is reserved for Bruce Springsteen if he makes an album in the year of the list. If not, The Gaslight Anthem or Hold Steady should sub-in.
Number 27: Nick Cave.
Number 26: Disappointing third album from previously much-touted act, so bad editorial embarrassment means its been crowbarred in here as a Pravda-style exercise in shrinking them slowly rather than dropping them like a hot brick as would be most appropriate.
Number 25: The band that everyone was tipping as the year's biggest act in January.
Number 24: You've never even heard of this one. You never will. Even as your read the blurb, you find your mind simultaneously erasing the entry.
Number 23: Glitchy & worthy & difficult record you've listened to once. Squarepusher, basically.
Number 21: British Sea Power.
Number 20: Token world muso.
Number 19: The band who've got a reputation for being 'influential', and have a geographically specific 'scene' organised around them that they put on semi-mythical 'parties' for at a semi-mythical 'venue'. eg: No Age & The Smell, Chairlift & Concert Hall Of Williamsburg.
Number 18: Band who wrote album of songs inspired by the tragic accidental/drug death of their bass player last year. Somewhere, the blurb says 'courageous'.
Number 17: Laura Marling.
Number 16: Cheesy pop band masquerading as 'wonky-pop'/'nu-pop'/'underground pop', which only barely disguises the fact that they're Roxette with alt. dress sense.
Number 16: Put in a 'stunning' performance on Jools Holland.
Number 15: DJ who made “the year's party-starting mash-up compilation” that you've never actually heard at a party that wasn't put on by media-insiders. And never made any of those partygoers do more than pout extra aggressively.
Number 14: Elbow.
Number 13: Hyper-obscure album everyone was bamboozled into voting for cos Pitchfork gave it a 9.9, despite sounding like every other folk album ever.
Number 12: Rapper facing child sex charges.
Number 11: Dizzee/Bizzle (pop grime slot shared on a rotational basis)
Number 10: Album described as a 'groundbreaking fusion of dance and rock'.
Number 9: Tape of Bob Dylan coughing up some phlegm in June 1972, found in someone's attic, dusted off, reissued, and hagiographised in the Sunday papers as a heartbreaking work of staggering genius.
Numbers 8 – 2: Records that were OK: no one was mad about them, but no one disliked them much either, so they swum through the middle course, whereas intense records that some people were truly passionate about but others really hated all ultimately failed to make the cut.
Number 1: Coldplay (Q), Arctic Monkeys (NME), Sven Vath (Mixmag), Neil Young (Uncut), Neil Young (Mojo), Neil Young (Classic Rock), Neil Young (Home & Garden), people humming transcendentally over distorted tape loops of concrete being laid (The Wire).