In DepthThe best albums ever, maybe. Then again …

By | posted on 24th October 2013

It’s the best ever, it’s the critics favourite, it’s the GOAT[1], it’s The Queen Is Dead, the 1986 album by The Smiths that was kept off the top spot in its week of release by Genesis. By and large its been up and up since then, the album regularly garlanded by critics and lauded by fans.

And now, 27 years after it was released, it’s finally reached the coveted number one spot, The Beatles providing weaker competition than Phil Collins et al, Revolver beaten into second place.

After the list, inevitably, comes the fallout.The spluttering. But how? How can it be the best album in the world? It’s not even the best album by The Smiths! It wasn't even the best album released in 1986! It wasn't voted best album last time! (when the NME ran a poll in 2003 The Stone Roses’ debut album ruled them all, and in 2006 another NME list of the best 100 British albums of all time the same album lead the way, with The Queen is Dead in second)! It’s not my favourite! It’s just the opinion of some NME hacks, and what do they know!

And so on.

It’s surely been a long enough established truth that arguing over lists on the internet is pointless. Arguing over music on the internet is surely just as futile. Arguing over music lists then must be the very pointless end of the pointless stick.

So accept that it’s just arbitrary. Accept that some people were asked, and some weren't. Accept that not everyone responded. Accept that all those who did had been NME writers at some point during their life, and accept that their lists will be coloured by that, and their age and individual cultural preferences. Accept that an album can be everyone’s second favourite and still finish as the collective winner, while an album that starkly divides opinion can suffer accordingly. Accept that the scoring system is not objectively perfect and under a different system you might be arguing over a different champion (three points for a win instead of 2, etc).

Accept that if everyone had been asked to give their favourite 51 albums, or 52 albums, or 100 albums, the overall list would be different. Accept that if they’d been asked a week later, or a week before, the list would be different.

Accept that if your favourite albums are well placed you may be inclined to treat the list more favourably.

Acknowledge that if The Queen is Dead is your own favourite, you haven’t won a beauty contest, but understand that your views may agree with the views of the NME down the years.

Above all, remember that if you don’t like this list you shouldn't worry: another one will be along soon.

Links, provided for the curious

[1] Greatest of all time