I have always taken issue with Rolling Stone. All puns aside.
Until this past issue, I was willing to put aside the pretension to get to the meat-and-potatoes articles inside. For the most part, they still have some half-decent reporting on current events as well as good interviews with some harder to reach people (most recently, Lemmy, which was a great read). The political end comes off as liberal extremist drivel most times and, though I tend to keep a bit left of center, they’re just a bit too much for my taste.
This past issue concerning their decade lists, however, was it for me. I am officially done with Rolling Stone after this. I’m finally up and calling shenanigans on this rag, even though many I’ve spoken to wrote the magazine off a long time ago. This was the last in an ever growing mountain of straws. Their Decade Issue has finally made them look like complete and total sellouts.
The first thing that tipped me off to the utter bullshit of the issue was their decade in review. Specifically the 2008 section which utterly SLAMMED Guns and Roses’ (read: Axl and Roses’) long-awaited Chinese Democracy. Not that I disagree with their assessment in this article, but if you’re going to make a decision, RS, stand by it. When the album first dropped, you gave it 4 (count ’em, 4) stars out of 5. You ranked it #12 in the 50 best albums of 2008. And, when it comes to comparing it to the rest of the decade, you give it an article called “Chinese Democra…zzz” and go on to say:
Congratulations, Axl! You just released an album you’ve been working on for Miley Cirus’ entire life! And it doesn’t have a single song as good as “Party in the USA”!
If that ain’t a slam, I don’t know what is. Here’s a fun note to the amateurs writing this shite: consistency is a part of professionalism. You can’t tell me that, after how you lauded this thing at the end of 2008, just ONE freaking year ago, that your opinion had changed from light to dark in the span of clicking a light switch. Sickening.
I continue pressing my way through and find that their top artists of the decade read like a scene from High Fidelity.
Bruce Springsteen, U2, Radiohead, Beyonce, Kanye, Jack White, Arcade Fire… wait, what? Arcade Fire?!? Something new slipped into a list of old safe ones. Veeeeery pussy.
Seriously, though, Arcade Fire? Standing next to the Boss and Bono? Please. Not that I’m a huge Springsteen or U2 fan, but I acknowledge openly that they are incredibly influential, especially within the ought-decade. Same goes for Kanye, Beyonce, Jack, and Radiohead. Tons of music between all of them, lots of platinum, lots of staying power (obviously). But, saying that some second-tier act “demonstrate(s) that Indie Rock can swell to U2-and-Springsteen like proportions” is fucking preposterous. Once again, a failure in my opinion. Sure, the band might be good, but to elevate them to some sort of Legend-status? Sorry, can’t dig it. You’ll probably be slamming them in two months, too, RS, don’t deny it.
And, while I’m all for Indie artists getting props, the lists of 50 Best Albums and 50 Best Songs of the Decade both seemed to showcase the ultra-pretension of the Rolling Stone staff.
Sure, they present you with a list of people they polled at the end. A who’s-who of the music industry from deities like Kirk Hammet, Lenny Kravitz, and AdRock on down to Kurt Loder, Lil’ Wayne, and Nick Jonas. Of course, the majority of the lesser-known names are subheaded with “Editor, Rolling Stone” or “Journalist, Rolling Stone”, telling me that this jury was fairly hung and that many of these opinions were probably agreed upon in a staff meeting and that they just sent out the poll to these people to make it look fair.
According to the album list, in ten years, four Nine Inch Nails releases failed to blow anyone’s mind. The only worthwhile album from System of a Down was Toxicity (at an embarrassing #44) out of four total albums before their indefinite hiatus. The Gorillaz two awesome records, especially the 2001 self-titled first opus, were denied a taste of glory. These were only a few of the crimes, in my opinion, perpetrated on this list.
It wasn’t just the omissions from the list, it was the inclusions as well. Reading these lists will make you shout “Where’s this? They put THAT there instead of THIS? Come on…”
Check the issue out. DO NOT look online. They’ve made the lists online a top 100, more than likely due to the disappointment expressed by readers like myself due to the sheer lack of intelligence behind their decisions. There had to be too many neglected songs and albums for anyone’s taste. Sure, everyone’s got their own feelings about what music blew their mind in this decade and I’m just one of them, but Rolling Stone has long been a trusted source for music reviews. Not that I trust them, or that anyone with half a brain trusts them anymore, but based on these lists, we can clearly see that RS’s “favorites” got props to drive up album sales from the mindless masses. Guaranteed Radiohead’s entire decade catalogue (of which Kid A was “voted” the #1 album) experienced a big spike. A friend even went so far as to say “Maybe I have to give that album another spin…”. I wanted to slap him and say, “No, you don’t! If you didn’t rate it number one, it’s not number one! Their opinion means SHIT, you understand? SHIT!” But, I’m a more passionate person about things like this.
Their list of Top 10 Movies of the Decade was sterile and safe, going with Oscar winners or Oscar nominees the whole way. Boring. Garbage. Tell us what was really good, not what the Academy thought was good. What the Academy thinks isn’t always right. Too many snooze-fest suck movies have been nominated for Oscars this decade. Not that it was on their top-ten, but Million Dollar Baby. I rest my case.
Lists face criticism. Any time anyone posts a ranking, it’s an opinion. I faced much criticism for my omission of Halo (as well as a few others) from my Top 10 Video Games of the Decade, especially when posted to one of my old writing haunts pop-damage.com. I expect Rolling Stone figured on some outrage when they posted this tripe.
I will say that this is probably the last issue of Rolling Stone I’ll read. I was keeping this one on the back-burner for a week or two just because I wanted to be incensed enough to write it. I’ve read through the issue many times just to get myself angry.
Adios, Rolling Stone. It’s been a long time coming. When the free shit I was signed up for at Best Buy expires, you are no longer welcome in my house. I cast you out. I wouldn’t disgrace my asshole by using you for toilet paper. That, and glossy pages really don’t work too well for wiping.
You have become The Man. And, by my very nature, I must damn you. Damn The Man.
Keep fighting the good fight.