I'd like to preface by saying this isn't a longform subtweet; it isn't precipitated by any recent event or controversy, it's just a series of loose observations because I'm easily distracted. Also, this is entirely my lukewarm take and isn't (necessarily) reflective of The 405's.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. With a gradual drip-dripping, each publication’s list slides onto the web with initially innocuous broadcasting, before its dissemination across media channels and forums and private messages accumulates a tsunami of opinion. Good list. Intriguing list. Weird list. Bad list. Satisfaction and glee. A shrugging mixture. Disappointment and frustration. Visceral, stewing, teeth-grinding fury that people physically can’t contain to their keyboards never mind their thoughts. I fucking love it.

Quick caveat; when these debates spill over into actual abuse – as sometimes happens – it’s contemptible, vacuous bullshit; no ifs or buts.

Now, there’s corollary arguments to be had about the value of these lists; how they homogenise uninspired taste, or promote and celebrate unheralded artists or albums, or whether they’re ideologically coded or biased (spoiler: of course they, all of them, are), which I won’t touch here.

I want to celebrate the diversity of lists; the bountiful opportunities for discovery in them (“I’ve never heard of Soundcloud Rap, why isn’t my favourite folk quintet on here?); and the sheer agonising, uncontaminated passion people pour into writing them, curating them, and discussing them. It’s so pure. We now have so many different publications covering so many different fields and voices of music that each list, no matter how trivially, is distinct and interesting, reflecting the perspectives and attitudes of their writing and editorial staff which will be, no matter how trivially, distinct from any other’s. That’s good. It means, ignoring the prejudices and grudges that we all carry, each list has its own value, identity, and outlook. That so many sites specialise now also leads into my second joy.

It’s not hyperbole to say that most of my favourite artists I hadn’t a clue about until I read an end of year list. After my internalised pre-mature seeth about The National or someone being displaced by a nobody, I’d listen to their displacer and be pleasantly surprised; and pleasant surprise is often the nascent emotion which eventually culminates in the zealous fandom which extends to internalised pre-mature seething when they’re in turn displaced by your Next Favourite Band. That we have so many specialised sites focussed on techno, or mumble rap, or post hardcore, or Bandcamp lo-fi folk rock bands, or acid psychadelica – or literally predicated on uncovering bands you’ve never heard of – means we have access to so much more music. Don’t get angry, get listening. Or better yet, get angry, then get listening.

The biggest thing for me though, is the #discourse. I occasionally give way to fatalism about music and music writing, I'm sure everyone does. The whole arduous process can often feel staid, going through the motions, effortless, inane, and I’m as culpable as anyone. But then mid-November comes around the drip-dripping begins. The boiling fervour inspiring each list and the ravenous hot takes which embraces each list is throbbing with enthusiasm and concern. With zero stakes at play, people will debate an entirely arbitrary ranking or fleeting album blurb to near-literal death, or at least being blocked on Twitter. After the 200 tweet threads and deleted comments sections and strongly worded complaint emails subside, what’s left is the shrivelled, smiling carcass of passionate discussion. This is when the #discourse comes alive, baby. And let’s be pretty clear here, in reality none of this actually matters beyond our own weird nerdiness. That’s what makes it so great.

When it can be easy to surrender to despair about how insipid and doctrinaire the #industry can sometimes be I find it revitalising and reaffirming being reminded that everyone who works in it gives an objectively stupid, personally wonderful amount of shits about music, regardless of their predilections or taste. It’s an annual reminder that everyone fucking cares and it’s thrilling and provocative and exhausting and tedious and brilliant.

Let's just step back and get a little perspective if it gets too firey, okay?