This time of year always stresses me out. Sure, you might say, the holidays are a trying time for everyone. And you’d be right. But that’s not what I’m talking about.
What’s bugging me right now — weeks before holiday insanity truly kicks in — is a different kind of annual tradition: list-making season. Yes, much like the Christmas carols that hit the airwaves before Halloween, year-end retrospectives have started their interweb takeover shockingly early (at least to me), days ahead of December. NME and Paste debuted their best albums and tracks of the year earlier this week, and I’m bracing for even more musical opinions to hit me like a tidal wave in the coming days.
It’s not that I dislike the list-making, per se. In fact, if it weren’t for Paste’s 2011 list, I would never have heard one of my favorite albums of last year. These round-ups can be a great way for me to catch up on music that I might have missed over the past 12 months (or 11, in the case of the lists out now), giving me endless opportunities to discover my next great musical obsession.
And herein lies the problem. I’m already an admitted procrastinator when it comes to acquiring music I know I should like, so imagine my chagrin when faced with list upon list telling me how great these 50 other albums are, and realizing I will literally never have time to listen to and form a coherent opinion about them all. Compounding this self-imposed conundrum is my recent decision to start list-making myself, and wondering if any of these artists so vehemently recommended by my favorite critics should also be considered for inclusion on my own retrospective.
It’s a vicious cycle that involves far too much time sitting in front of my computer, listening to 30-second song samples and spending more money at the Amazon MP3 store than this broke, unemployed girl would like to admit (thank God for Black Friday Deals Week). I have album upon album stacked in my download folder just waiting for me to listen, love, and then choose a favorite to include on a carefully-curated retrospective mix. Frankly, I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
If I can’t even bring myself to analyze the music I already own, how on earth can I face this onslaught of opinions and the potential greatness they hold? I suppose at some point I’m going to have to just stop considering them altogether. As I hinted at above, I can’t afford much more of this music-buying business, but I what I really can’t afford is to waste away on the couch, clutching my laptop for dear life and hitting “Play All Samples” for the umpteenth time. Sometimes you’ve just got to know when enough is enough. I hope I have the strength to keep that mantra in mind (and my wallet on lockdown) over the next few weeks.
If that fails, I will also accept Amazon gift cards and cash as early birthday/Christmas presents.