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Wish in One Hand

As the Hype Machine completes it's recap of 2008's most popular artists, albums and songs, consider what could happen if we lose the rock and roll high ground.

This Friday past, peeps over at the Hype Machine finished up their year-end Music Blog Zeitgeist 2008, which uses data compiled by the search results and bookmarked favorites of registered users to determine what were the most popular artists, albums, and songs (in those three catergories) of the past year. The Machine's design for the albums list is particularly handsome, and no one can argue that there aren't some real winners on there.

A minor concern is that the list only considers registered users' input (which doesn't include me. Are you on there?), and that it's a popularity contest, not an objective consideration of what artists and music was in our best interest over the past year (see the inclusion of Lonely "SNL's Andy Samberg" Island's "Jizz in My Pants" on the top songs from December. Sure, it's good for yuks, but anything else?). However, the only highly troubling aspect of the list is how strongly it favors dance/techno (and the rare sad bastard song by Bon Iver or Fleet Foxes), and how little it rocks. Not that this Digest is wholly immune to the (mostly fleeting) charms of either, but something greater lies at stake.

With a new president being sworn in next week, it may well behoove us to think for a minute about what American ideals are and what makes this country better than any other in the world. Our economy sucks, we're increasingly into super creepy stuff like rendition and torture, and our culture wars show no sign of abating. The answer, of course, is rock and roll. We invented rock and roll. We might go so far as to say that we built this city on it. Okay, bad example.

Both musicians and listeners should take heed. Our cultural legacy is hanging in the balance. If we lose rock music, we won't be so cool anymore and won't be able to act so superior to the rest of the world at the world's best parties. Consider, then, a new song by The Joy Formidable, a Welsh band (with some fun videos here). This is chart-topping rock and roll over there, America. Are we just gonna sit here and let them out-rock us? While, as Fluxblog points out, the song "Cradle" has a somewhat atavistic bent, sometimes taking a look back at our roots (back in the halcyon 90s in this case) is just the shot in the arm we need to take that step forward. This year has every potential to rock. It's up to you, America.

TMN Editor Erik Bryan is living the dream. He grew up in Florida, but he’s from all over. He likes playing chess, making cocktails, smarting off, and not freezing to death in Brooklyn, where he currently resides. More by Erik Bryan

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