In case you maintain any illusions to the contrary, please allow me to pull back the velvet curtain completely: music criticism is, for the most part, a flounderingly parasitic structure designed to allow self-important elitists and haters access to free CDs. It's with this humble understanding that I greet you in these pages each week--mindful of the fact that while the musicians I write about are toiling to create something meaningful, beautiful, and powerful, I'm getting paid to toss off smug and dismissive quips as if I know what the hell I'm talking about. Truth is, the personal opinions of music critics mean just about fuck-all outside of our parasitic industry structure (read: publicists, record labels, A&R staffers, etc.)--something to keep in mind when faced with the impending onslaught of the year-end "Best OfÉ" season.

BEST RECORD OF THE YEAR: The Arcade Fire--Funeral.

Sure, there's an argument (albeit a weak one) to be made for critic as cultural informant--the voice burdened with the enviable task of trudging through the endless musical mire in order to provide readers a context with which to approach a new band/record/etc. --but the weighted, arbitrary importance on the "Best Of" list fails to satisfy any legitimate cultural void. Instead, it's yet another chance for the eternally important to burden readers with trivial musings from the fount of their divine wisdoms--an empty indulgence for back-patting journalists to further congratulate themselves.

BEST SINGLE OF THE YEAR: Kanye West--"Jesus Walks"

Think about it: when was the last time you read one of those near weekly issues of Rolling Stone/Spin/AP/etc. devoted to ranking shit like "The Best Rock Eyebrows of All Time" without feeling a little embarrassed at having wasted 15 minutes you could have better served rearranging your bathroom? Never? Me neither. And yet, without fail, I too find myself almost magnetically drawn to their cryptic numerology--if for no other reason than to boost my own meek critical ego. 'Cuz isn't that the only justifiable reason to read Best Of lists? To reassure oneself that you have more discriminating taste than everyone else in the world?


What I'm getting at here, beneath all this prattling Andy Rooney-ism, is that as a member of the parasitic elite, I'm prepared to take a stand. The powers that be in the world of music criticism would have you believe that it's your burden every December to shoulder the asinine score carding of every armchair critic with a word count --and frankly, dear reader, I have more respect for you than that. Please accept this as my solemn vow that as long as it is in my power, you will never be subjected to masturbatory musings on matters of any triviality. And that's a promise.