Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Number 39: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!

Ah, to be young and in buzzz.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! emerged this year with the absolute worst band name and the kind of praise reserved for Canadians and sharply dressed folks with nice cheak bones. CYHSY don't look like much on paper the same indie touchstones get name checked, the same glowing press quotes from the same bloggy sources. What makes them significant is their staunch independence and there ability to keep the air of rock and roll mystery which tends to leave bands as soon as ink gets spilled.

Number 40: Kelly Clarkson

It's not that "Since U Benn Gone" is the best pop single of the year (though it is), it's not that Miss Clarkson has made amends for the meat market of vibrato that is American Idol (though she's done that too), it's more that it's become so okay for even the snobbiest of snobs to be pro-Kelly Clarkson. And why not be pro Kelly? She's clearly talented and as far as choosing pop gems she's got an excellent batting average if you pretend her first album didn't exist. More importantly with early career embarassment out of the way and having already outlasted her expected shelf life she can do whatever she wants (so long as the swedes write the hooks).

The Top 40 Most Relevant Artists In the World Today

Relevance is almost impossible to measure in a moment. In hindsite it can become as clear as day, but to try and decide what carries weight and what is frivilous in a moment is impossible (that's why FEMA failed). But relevance is what I attempted to measure in making this list and I'd like to think I did a good job. Relevance however is in the eye of the beholder so as much as I would love to curb my indie rock prejudice it's impossible. I was able to see the big picture and a few bands that are beloved to me fell off as a result (sorry Wrens). By the same token at least one band which is sort of a non-starter for me personally merited inclusion (Green Day) and I tried to put my taste aside in the process of ordering the list.

Another important thing to remember is what this list is supposed to measure. For better or worse these are the bands and artists who will define our cultural conversation over the next few months until a new batch sweep us off our feet. Relevance is not a question of What have you done for me? or even What have you done for me lately? The question is: What are you doing for me tomorrow? and how will what you did yesterday shape tomorrow? Here's to tomorrow.

1. Arcade Fire
2. Kanye West
3. Sufjan Stevens
4. Radiohead
5. Fiery Furnaces
6. Ben Gibbard
7. M.I.A/Diplo
8. R. Kelly
9. Animal Collective
10. Outkast
11. Broken Social Scene
12. LCD Soundsystem
13. Franz Ferdinand
14. Dangermouse
15. The Decemberists
16. The Go! Team
17. Annie
18. Bright Eyes
19. The Hold Steady
20. Devendra Banhart
21. The Streets
22. Beck
23. Kompakt Records
24. Ghostface
25. Cat Power
26. Green Day
27. Dizzee Rascal
28. Spoon
29. The New Pornographers
30. The Strokes
31. Yeah Yeah Yeahs
32. Wilco
33. Wolf Parade
34. Common
35. Architechture in Helsinki
36. MF Doom
37. Isaac Brock
38. Bloc Party
39. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!
40. Kelly Clarkson

(There will be a slow trickle of explanation over the next few weeks I will attempt to do two or three a day to lead us right up to Big Year End List Week!!!!)