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Reflections on Pitchfork’s Top 100 Albums of 1990

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Pitchfork Media, that sassy and sardonic bunch of know-it-all indie hipsters. You either love ’em or ya hate ’em. But you at least have to give the independent media outlet some credit for revisiting their Top 100 list of the 1990s. Why now?, you might ask. Who cares! The revised list reflects an interesting assessment of how rock has changed and, consequently, how their historical perspective of rock and previous rock works has evolved.

You can find the original list here and the amended list here. Below are a few of my thoughts and comments about the revisions:

* As a commenter from Chrome Waves pointed out, the updated list interestingly includes considerably more rap and hip hop artists than the original. In hindsight have rap and hip hop played larger roles in the evolution of independent music? Or has Pitchfork’s musical scope been broadened with the passage of time? Still, there is not a single rap or hip hop album in Pitchfork’s Top 15 albums of the decade. Hip-hop-influenced DJ Shadow’s first release, Endtroducing does appears at No. 7, but the first hip hop or rap album on the list is Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet at No. 17.

* I am highly disappointed that among the casualties from the initial list were No Matter What You Heard faves, Chavez, as well as Morphine and math rock heroes, Polvo. Chavez’s mesmerizing album, Ride the Fader, originally appeared as No. 38 on the list. Morphine’s Cure for Pain was No. 86 on the first list. Polvo’s Exploded Drawing held the 68th spot on the list.

* Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea ascended from a paltry No. 85 to the fourth best album of the decade. It is, at the least, coincidental that Magnet’s Top 100 list from 1993-2003 featured this album as the best of the period.

* Magnetic Fields’ best album, Charm of the Highway Strip, which originally appeared as (coincidentally) the 69th best album of the decade, was replaced with the band’s later and less remarkable 69 Love Songs.

* Though Red Medicine appears at No. 42 on the revised list, Pitchfork’s most embarrassing omission was Fugazi’s masterpiece, Repeater, which originally appeared as No. 52 and is certainly one of the best ten, let alone one hundred, albums of the decade.

* Smashing Pumpkins’ magnum opus, Siamese Dream, was rightfully elevated from No. 50 to a position in the top twenty albums of the decade.

* Pitchfork also correctly promoted Slint’s Spiderland from No. 34 to No 12, though I am not fully satisfied without a place in the top ten.

* Archers of Loaf’s first and possibly best work, Icky Mettle, was another casualty of hindsight.

* Radiohead’s OK Computer and My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless traded places as Radiohead took over the title of Pitchfork’s best album of the decade.

There’s nothing like a best-of list to arouse the ire of self-proclaimed rock critics and rock fanatics alike, eh?

For more musings on independent music, technology and the music industry, visit No Matter What You Heard.

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  • umm, what about the punk and ska? yes, Fugazi got some recognition, and there were some other bands i’m not familiar with that might have been punk, but what about NOFX, Rancid, Op Ivy, LTJ, Bouncing Souls, Jesus Lizard, L7, New Bomb Turks, etc. This is a gross omission.