Tis the season of the end of year list. Top 10 straight to box set DVDs. Top 1000 digital deep house labels. Etc. Once again we've decided to go for Top 8 Whatevers. The Top 8 things of the year - be them bacon sandwiches; the top 8 times you stubbed your toe against the f*cking boxes full of useless sh*t your girlfriend insists on leaving in the hallway; and so on and so forth (sorry that useless s*it one is a bit harsh). Over the next few weeks until the new year, we'll be publishing the Top 8s of our various excellent R$N scribes.
Here's what Tim Murray has to say on the whole 'end of year list' concept;
Eight Reasons Year-End Charts Aren’t As Good As They Used To Be
Or How The Internet Killed A Good Top 10
1 They’re written in November
I know, every year, Christmas gets earlier. The policemen are getting younger and nothing’s as good as it used to be. But in my mind, year-end lists used to appear at the end of the year, either in the NME double issue just before Christmas, or between Christmas and new year. But in the ceaseless march to be FIRST, especially in the film blog world, everyone is rushing to get their end of year charts out earlier and earlier. And I know you can confidently look at release schedules and predict your top 10 given what you’ve seen at previews, or heard on promos or links, but writing it in November is not fucking year-end.
2 When does the year start and end?
Look at Sight & Sound’s top 20 films of the year. Almost half of them (nine in total), haven’t opened at UK cinemas yet. They might have played at the London Film Festival, but they haven’t had a proper release. I don’t necessarily give a monkey’s about stuff out of London, but I’m not funded by the British Film Institute. (the clue’s in the bit that says British.) Lengthy explanations about the criteria for when a film can be included in your top 10 (“these are the films I saw in 2014, rather than were released at cinemas blah blah blah”) are even less interesting than a top 10 written by someone who’s opinions I couldn’t care less about.
3 Use arrows to navigate
Those fucking top 10s where you have to click about 10 times to read them all, just to improve the figures for the site. Well done with that. Now, call me old-fashioned, but I like a top 10 to be just that: a top 10 you can scroll down and read. Rather than repeatedly clicking just so you can boast to advertisers how many visits you’ve had. And stop telling me to use the arrows to navigate while you’re at it.
4 Take one a day for two weeks
Step forward The Guardian. Which manages to drag its Best Of Year End lists out for about two weeks, revealing one a day. Just email me the list when you’ve finished, yeah?
5 Who asked you what you think?
Seriously though. Who the fuck asked what you think? Who asked you to do a top 10? I know a former Hollywood executive who ended up working in the UK, who once, as legend had it, asked a friend what they thought of an idea he’d had. When he was disappointed in their reply, he looked them in the eye and said: “Who the fuck asked what you think?” And that’s a good thing to think about when potentially penning a top 10. “Who the fuck asked what you think? And who actually gives a fuck what you think?’ I still love a good top 10. The clue is in the word “good”. If you’re a good writer, I’ll be interested in what was the best for you in 2014. The democratisation of the Internet means everyone’s got their own opinion, but its “I’m Spartacus and here’s my top 10” means everyone’s doing their top 10s and no-one cares any more.
6 Ooh, aren’t I eclectic?
“Right, one foreign language one; one blockbuster choice; some American indies, a documentary, one horror film, one kids’ film, one you haven’t seen yet, one that hasn’t got a distributor, one re-release I saw at the BFI…” Same goes for music, with your Taylor Swift “are we being ironic about this or not, I’m confused but will still put it in because it’s a perfect pop song” selections. Oh, and if you put a kids’ film in, and you don’t have kids and then say “it shouldn’t just be for kids”, you’re a bit of a nonce.
7 Half-year updates
People in July telling me your top 10 of the year so far. Agonising over your choices. In November suddenly going “I’ve got to change my top 10 now”. Then proceeding to detail exactly how you made your choice. Th endless blathering on about your top 10 means I care less, in all honesty. And it all starts again in January when you say: “I know it’s only January, but this is a contender for my year-end Best Of top 10”. It’s like when people say ‘that ties up the Sports Personality Of The Year then” in about May when someone wins something. I now care less about that, even more so when you call it SPOTY too.
8 Can’t you fucking count?
“Here’s my top 10. And I’ve done some bubbling under choices” Or “I’ve got two choices at number 10, making 11 in total, because I couldn’t decide between these two.” How about: “my top 10, plus three.” Seriously, it’s a top 10. How difficult is it to just do 10? You know, like you were asked for. Please, to echo a phrase from a previous column, re-read the brief.
And in case you asked, which you didn’t, My Top Eight Plus Two And A Bonus One: 20,000 Days On Earth, Under The Skin, Blue Ruin, Epic Of Everest, Changes, Hook And Pull Gang bootleg edition of Texas Chain Saw Massacre by Umberto and Antoni Maiovvi; Flying Saucers Rock N Roll, anything by Pye Corner Audio, Troxy Music compilation, Blue Sunshine on VHS and Cold In July.