SPIN's latest attempt at relevancy mostly just brought back a lot of memories for us. It's probably been at least 4 months since the last time we looked at SPIN. We don't recognize the names of their current staff or any of the writers who contributed blurbs to The SPIN 300. AT the moment, it's entirely possible that the writers of this website could all receive jobs there. At any rate...
A few nights ago, this list was unveiled, and we sat at a bar with a few friends in Orlando, Florida and read through the results, unsure what to expect.
SPIN has already posted yet ANOTHER article where they "break down" the list by category: http://www.spin.com/2015/05/spin-300-best-albums-past-30-years-trivia/
1994 was the year with the most albums in their list, and in response to that we say "Duh."
1988 had the 2nd lowest number of albums, which at first seemed like it didn't jive with our assessment of the '80s (especially considering the glaring exclusion of My Bloody Valentine's Isn't Anything). However, we'll concede that 1988 was still a very strong singles year - not so great for albums (as opposed to 1994 which excelled in both categories with flying colors).
The only rule was that no one was allowed to place with more than 3 albums.
Here's our quick assessment....
300. Green Day, American Idiot (Reprise, 2004): Seriously, fuck this album. Jan Wenner is all like "too low."
299. Parquet Courts, Sunbathing Animal (What’s Your Rupture?, 2014): Not sure what's happening here.
298. Ice Cube, AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted (Priority, 1990): Here's the lowest placing album that was once deemed SPIN's #1 album of the year. SPIN's big-event album lists typically make the effort to include as many of their previous #1's as possible. In this case, it's actually a great record that still holds up, so no problems here.
294. Sigur Rós, Ágætis Byrjun (Play It Again Sam, 1999): Pleasantly surprised to see how this album has been re-assessed and canonized as of late.
288. Tyler, the Creator, Goblin (Odd Future, 2011): We like that this is here, except that none of Earl's albums placed at all. Doris is still our favorite album from 2013, and EARL is probably still our favorite album from 2010.
287. TV on the Radio, Dear Science (Interscope, 2008): So now we're getting into stuff that seems to be only placing because SPIN once listed it as their #1 album of its respective year. This is mostly troubling for us since they neglected to include the superior Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes. It seems like they really want to stick with pushing all of their previous #1's with as little re-assessment budging as possible.
283. Superchunk, I Hate Music (Merge, 2013): The only Superchunk album on this list is one of their post-reunion albums. So weird.
279. Aerosmith, Pump (Geffen, 1989): Another curious choice. This has never appeared in any of SPIN's previous album-canon lists, and we haven't noticed any other recent reassessment of Pump as a critical favorite. We're not upset; just kinda perplexed. "Janie's Got a Gun" and "What It Takes" both still sound cool to us, but we wouldn't recommend it to anyone who can't handle Steven Tyler. Definitely an acquired taste.
273. Slint, Spiderland (Touch & Go, 1991): Once upon a time in 1999, we first heard about Spiderland after it placed at its entirely justified #16 position on SPIN's "90 Albums from the '90s." We're not normally shouting "too low" at magazine lists, but rather we tend to appreciate records getting placed and canonized at all. But in this case - and especially after Slint blew our minds during last year's reunion shows as one of the greatest live experiences of our lifetimes - it's probably the most depressingly (and dare we suggest heartbreakingly) low placement on this entire list.
271. Sublime, Sublime (Gasoline Alley/MCA, 1996): And just to really rub the shit in our faces, why not place the album that includes "Caress Me Down" and "The Ballad of Johnny Butt" two slots higher than Spiderland? Does this count as bullying?
270. George Michael, Faith (BMG/Columbia/Sony Music Entertainment, 1987): Happy to see the critical post-reassessment of Faith is still going strong.
267. The Deftones, White Pony (Maverick, 2000): Nice one. Pretty sure this hasn't appeared in any of SPIN's previous album-canon lists. It's their best album, and they're still an amazing band.
265. Swervedriver, Mezcal Head (A&M, 1993): NICE.
259. Bruce Springsteen, Tunnel of Love (Columbia, 1987): Another curious inclusion, similar to Pump from earlier. On a hunch, we just checked the "Rolling Stone 500" from 2003, and turns out that this album did in fact place at #467. So perhaps this is a fan favorite and we just never knew.
230. The Shins, Chutes Too Narrow (Sub Pop, 2003): They chose the correct Shins album. There is hope.
226. Nicki Minaj, Pink Friday (Cash Money, 2010): Nice one. While not her most consistent album, we're happy she's here in either case.
225. Portishead, Third (Island, 2008): This makes up for Beak>'s inevitable exclusion. Although, had it not been for Beak>, we might never have understood why Third rules so hard. For us, Beak> provided retroactive context for Third.
224. Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (Glassnote, 2009): They chose the wrong Phoenix album. This one's boring. Listen to their 2006 record instead.
219. System of a Down, Toxicity (American/Sony Music Distribution, 2001): Another case where this might not have placed if it weren't their #1 album of its respective year. Toxicity deserves far more credit than it receives. As a whole, it's a pretty important record, and should be considered greater than simply a showcase for "Chop Suey" and "Aerials." Pitchfork excluded it from their "Best albums of the 2000s," probably because there wasn't enough glockenspiel or reverb. Or because it doesn't sound enough like The Decemberists. Not enough whistling or sleigh bells. Because, you know, that's what rock music needs.
216. Destroyer, Kaputt (Merge, 2011): Still not sure why people with otherwise fantastic music taste will completely lose their shit over this album. Maybe it will make sense to us someday.
211. Aaliyah, One in a Million (Blackground, 1996): This is about the point when we realized this list was starting to get REALLY good.
203. D’Angelo, Brown Sugar (Virgin, 1995): This inclusion, while completely justified - suddenly reminds us to check whether Black Messiah made this cut, which it did not, probably due to missing some deadline (even though it was technically a 2014 record).
202. Sleigh Bells, Treats (Mom + Pop, 2010): Yeah but fuck this shit tho.
201. Rage Against the Machine, The Battle of Los Angeles (Epic, 1999): SPIN's "90 Albums from the '90s" was unveiled over the summer of 1999, and included Rage's self-titled somewhere in the 20's or 30's. The Battle of Los Angeles was released the following November, and ever since then it's the only Rage album that SPIN ever includes in their album-canon features, even though it's their 3rd best album. They REALLY love this record for some reason. I mean, it's cool, but there's no "Wake Up" or "Freedom." What can ya do?
200. Moby, Everything Is Wrong (Elektra, 1995): This album is kinda not that good. At the time, we loved it to death, and it supplied many good memories. But then somewhere around 2008-2009, we realized that we had not listened to Moby in years, and when we re-assessed his records we realized that they almost all suck. Everything Is Wrong doesn't "suck" per se, but we're pretty sure it wouldn't be here had it not been SPIN's #1 album of 1995.
199. Soundgarden, Superunkown (A&M, 1994): This begins a pretty solid streak for this list. 199-100 is the most consistently dope chunk of this thing.
187. Teenage Fanclub, Bandwagonesque (Creation, 1991): A record that became infamous as being SPIN's #1 of 1991 only because it beat Nirvana. Not sure why this is such a big deal. It didn't place in "90 Albums from the '90s," but it was reassessed and included in subsequent album-canon features.
184. LCD Soundsystem, This Is Happening (DFA/Virgin, 2010): Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo.
183. Jimmy Eat World, Bleed American (Dreamworks, 2001): Yessssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss.
179. No Age, Everything in Between (Sub Pop, 2010): YESYESYESYES. They didn't include Nouns which is probably still our favorite record of 2008, but who cares. NO AGE!
177. At the Drive-In, Relationship of Command (Grand Royal/Virgin, 2000): YS!YESESS!!TYESSSSS
171. Blur, Parklife (Food, 1994): Nice to see this one. At this point we assumed this would be the only Blur album, because most lists place Parklife highest. To be continued...
170. Lil Wayne, Da Drought 3 (Young Money, 2007): Wow! A random fucking mixtape thrown into the mix. And yes, this did place on SPIN's top albums of 2007, but still! Wow!
169. The Smashing Pumpkins, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (Virgin, 1995): Love seeing this reassessed and included here. This might be the first time SPIN included Mellon Collie in an album-canon feature, although we might be wrong about that. (Still waiting on some major publication to come around to Pieces Iscariot. It will happen.)
168. Eminem, The Slim Shady LP (Interscope, 1999): Remember when Eminem was like "nobody listens to techno?" Well, nobody listens to this album anymore.
164. Janet Jackson, janet. (Virgin, 1993): Hell yeah.
163. Spoon, Kill the Moonlight (Merge, 2002): Not a bad choice for the only Spoon album. We're guessing their tallies included a split between 4 records and this is the one they went with. Gimme Fiction is still the best one and fuiud.
160. Oasis, Definitely Maybe (Epic, 1994): Their first two albums are ok, but how is Oasis not considered at least as important as Spoon or No Age or The Shins, who are bands where SPIN made a decision to include only one of their dope records? And Definitely Maybe is better than Mourning Glory, so this is the one they shoulda went with.
159. The Postal Service, Give Up (Sub Pop, 2003): Bleh.
153. Pavement, Wowee Zowee (Matador, 1995): Noteworthy since this and Terror Twilight are the 2 that did not appear on SPIN's respective year-lists.
150. Cloud Nothings, Attack on Memory (ADA/Carpark, 2012): Oh hey, it's our friends.
148. Sonic Youth, Goo (DGC, 1990): Not typically the Sonic Youth album of choice for these types of features, but it's our favorite and we're happy it's here.
144. Pearl Jam, Vitalogy (Epic, 1994): Hell yeah. The fact that this was included over Ten is especially great to see.
143. The Notorious B.I.G., Life After Death (Bad Boy, 1997): Nicceeeeee.
140. Nirvana, MTV Unplugged in New York (DGC, 1994): Great album, although we like Bleach better and it would be cool to see it receive props here and there. We feel like Bleach pretty much never gets included. (Incesticide is actually the one we'd love to see the most, but it's technically a comp.)
139. Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion (Domino, 2009): We've come around to this one over the past 2 years. Great record, and reasonably placed, as opposed to Pitchfork's #14th best album of the 2000s malarkey.
134. Blink-182, Enema of the State (MCA, 1999): They would have never dreamed of including this in their top albums of 1999. To be honest, we couldn't name any of the non-singles from this. Maybe it's good? I'm asking friends about it now, and it sound like a lot of kids know this album backwards and forwards - in a good way. Tom, Mark and Travis are probably all dicks tho, but most of the people on this list are dicks.
132. Michael Jackson, Dangerous (Epic, 1991): Wow! Pumped to see this here. And very strange that this was included over Bad, but also WOWOWOW!! We've been wondering about the 33 1/3 book on this album, and this is kinda fueling our incentive.
130. Frank Ocean, channel ORANGE (Def Jam, 2012): Frank and Tyler make up Odd Future's representation here. Next time around (if SPIN lasts that long), they'll reassess Earl. We promise.
129. Beyoncé, B’Day (Columbia, 2006): Weird choice. Seems to have been mostly included because of "Irreplaceable," but is that one song really enough to anchor this entire album into canonization? Dangerously In Love is still her best full length by far.
128. Against Me!, New Wave (Sire, 2007): SPIN's #1 of 2007. Excellent choice too, and noteworthy for including possibly our favorite song from that entire year, "Borne On The FM Waves of the Heart."
127. Fiona Apple, When the Pawn... (Clean Slate/Epic, 1999): A perfect record. Kinda "too low" zone. And also, it's somehow reminding us that The Cardigans' Gran Turismo deserves to show up in more of these things.
120. Miguel, Kaleidoscope Dream (RCA, 2012): Fuck yes. Another "too low" zone. For us, this is top 5 of the 2010s.
113. Radiohead, The Bends (Capitol, 1995): Might still be our favorite album of 1995. Possibly maybe.
112. Beastie Boys, Licensed to Ill (Def Jam, 1986): Shoulda been Check Your Head, which curiously was the only Beasties album that made the cut for "90 Best Albums of the '90s" - while Licensed, Paul's and Ill Communication were the 3 choices for the SPIN 300.
110. Panda Bear, Person Pitch (Paw Tracks, 2007): We came around to this one too. We came around to pretty much everything Animal Collective related over the past 2 years. It was just "good" prior to 2013, whereas now, we understand why it's canonized.
109. Tears for Fears, Songs From the Big Chair (Mercury, 1985): Excellent choice, although can't help but think movie soundtracks had something to do with this Wenner-friendly reassessment.
108. Jay Z, Reasonable Doubt (Roc-A-Fella, 1996): His best album. Shoulda placed higher.
107. Paul Simon, Graceland (Legacy, 1986): Interesting choice, and also suspiciously Wenner-friendly.
104. Kanye West, Late Registration (Roc-A-Fella, 2005): Their #1 of 2005. We woulda had 808s and Heartbreak show up around #104 in its place.
103. Depeche Mode, Violator (Mute, 1990): We feel like this has placed at exactly #103 on at least one previous SPIN canon feature.
102. LL Cool J, Mama Said Knock You Out (Def Jam, 1990): Too low.
101. Justin Timberlake, FutureSex/LoveSounds (Jive, 2006): Great record, but if it came between this and Justified, we'll always choose the latter.
99. TLC, CrazySexyCool (LaFace, 1994): This begins the occasionally perplexing top 100. We like CrazySexyCool a lot, but not "Waterfalls." Our favorite song on this record is probably the cover of "If I Was Ur Girlfriend," which immediately reminded us of the very strong possibility that Sign O' The Times will end up placing on this thing somewhere.
97. Clipse, Hell Hath No Fury (Zomba, 2006): Did not at all expect this to place top 100, but it's an entirely welcome surprise. A brilliant, underrated record that seems to be finally receiving some due cred. The top 100 seems flooded with these types of records.
96. Blur, 13 (Food/Virgin, 1999): Did not at all expect this, but again - entirely welcome. It's one of our favorite records of all time, and we can't recall ever seeing this place as the highest Blur album.
94. The White Stripes, White Blood Cells (Sympathy for the Record Industry, 2001): We will give SPIN props for understanding that The White Stripes have not aged well, and that it was kinda weird for them to hand them their "album of the year" prize two years in a row. On this list, only White Blood Cells made the cut, and not Elephant.
92. Missy Elliott, Supa Dupa Fly (EastWest/Goldmind, 1997): A really dope top 100 so far.
90. J Dilla, Donuts (Stones Throw, 2006): WOO!
87. Genius/GZA, Liquid Swords (Altered Ego/Geffen, 1995): Due credit for the Wu. Every song on this album is amazing, and it totally deserves to place this high.
83. Japandroids, Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl, 2012): Love these guys, but huh? We prolly woulda place this around #283 instead of #83. But also we prolly would have included Post-Nothing instead of this one since it's a better album.
78. Frank Ocean, nostalgia, ULTRA. (Self-Released, 2011): Another mixtape! Wow! And plus this placed higher than Channel Orange. Love it.
77. Slayer, Reign in Blood (American, 1986): There shoulda been way more metal on this thing. Feelin' the Slayer.
70. Fugazi, Repeater (Dischord, 1990): Seems like a stock choice for Fugazi. We're happy to see them place at all, but The Argument and End Hits are their true classics.
68. The Flaming Lips, The Soft Bulletin (Warner Bros., 1999): Hmmmmmm. 5-10 years ago we woulda been a lot more pumped about this decision. It's good, but more like #168.
67. Robyn, Body Talk (Cherrytree/Konichiwa, 2010): Love this, but also huh? Again, prolly woulda placed this at #167.
66. Ghostface Killah, Fishscale (Def Jam, 2006): Got damn. It's like, we LOVE that this placed so high, but also HUH? Supreme Clientele or Iron Man are his classics.
63. Drake, Take Care (Cash Money/Universal, 2011): You've gotta be fucking kidding me. Think about everything that just place between #300 and #64 and then honestly say that each and everyone of those albums are WORSE than Drake's Take Care. Damn dude. Huge misstep. This is probably the biggest joke of this entire list.
57. Guns N’ Roses, Appetite for Destruction (Geffen, 1987): Feels like this deserves some re-assessment. Solid record, but it just doesn't sound as important as it used to. That would have been something if they had included Use Your Illusion II simply for SPIN's shoutout in "Get In The Ring."
56. Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III (Motown/Cash Money, 2008): Another perplexingly high placement for a less-than-solid record. This is probably as good as Mellon Collie, which was equally bloated and contained probably the same classic-to-dud ratio with its tracks.
54. Janet Jackson, Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 (A&M, 1989): Gotta say we fucking love that Janet was one of the artists throughout this who maxed out with 3 album placements.
50. Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP (Interscope, 2000): Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.
48. Nine Inch Nails, The Downward Spiral (Interscope/Nothing, 1994): Wow, with no exclamation point. Weird choice for top 50. We feel like way less people are feelin' NIN these days. P.S. The Fragile was their #1 album of 1999, and was not included in the SPIN 300.
47. LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver (Capitol/DFA, 2007): Somehow this pisses us off more than Eminem at #50.
45. Kendrick Lamar, good kid, m.A.A.d. city (Interscope/Aftermath, 2012): Good call.
44. Pavement, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (Matador, 1994): We wish this was Terror Twilight instead. We probably like the bonus disc on the expanded Crooked Rain better than the album itself.
43. Neutral Milk Hotel, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (Merge, 1998): Sorry, we didn't realize 4chan was choosing these results.
42. M.I.A. Kala (XL/Interscope, 2007): Interesting choice. We're feelin' it. Solid record.
41. Elliott Smith, Either/Or (Kill Rock Stars, 1997): Great choice for top 50.
38. Beyoncé, Beyoncé (Columbia, 2013): Oh dear. Not sure why people lose their shit over this album so much. Kanye is probably happy this placed higher than Beck.
37. U2, Achtung Baby (Island, 1991): Bleh. More like #237.
35. Pulp, Different Class (Island, 1995): REALLY weird choice. More like #135. Good record, but when we saw this we pretty much just stared at the phone with a really confused look on our faces shouting Different Class??!? 5 or 6 times.
34. Metallica, Master of Puppets (Elektra, 1986): Bleh. This list needed more metal, but not like this. Although we'll admit it does have a pretty strong Side A.
33. Radiohead, Kid A (Capitol, 2000): Love this record. Nice job here.
31. Weezer, Weezer (Blue Album) (DGC, 1994): I guess we're used to seeing Weezer's 2 '90s records placing so high at this point, so it's not entirely unexpected, although these days we're far less burnt on the B-Sides.
29. R.E.M., Automatic for the People (Warner Bros., 1992): IDGI
26. The Dismemberment Plan, Emergency & I (DeSoto, 1999): Unheralded by SPIN at the time, which reminds us that they used to do this thing: If SPIN found out about a truly classic record in retrospect (a year or 2 late), they would make sure to place their next record in their "best albums" list that year, regardless of its merit. This is why Pack Up the Cats place in '98, but As Good As Dead didn't place in '96. And there are plenty of other examples of this, including Change placing in 2001, while Emergency & I didn't place in '99. As for its placement here, it's far FAR too high. And to be honest, we like Change a lot better.
25. Hole, Live Through This (DGC, 1994): Every Breeders album is better than Live Through This. Veruca Salt's American Thighs is better than this. SPIN's always had the biggest boner for Courtney Love. It's a good record, but #25 is just ridiculous.
22. Green Day, Dookie (Reprise, 1994): Great choice. Brilliant record. Again, it didn't appear on their top albums in 1994, while Insomniac appeared in the 1995 list - because they realized that they had goofed and tried to make up for it. We're not making this shit up. Observe their patterns. This really did happen.
21. OutKast, Aquemini (LaFace, 1998): Excellent choice.
19. The Strokes, Is This It (RCA, 2001): Probably shouldn't be placing this high, but we're not surprised. (It was their #20 best album of 2001.)
17. Beastie Boys, Paul’s Boutique (Capitol, 1989): Fuck yes.
16. The Magnetic Fields, 69 Love Songs (Merge, 1999): Still haven't made it through this entire thing.
14. My Bloody Valentine, Loveless (Sire, 1991): Cool but also it just makes them look like posers not including Isn't Anything.
13. Jay Z, The Blueprint (Roc-A-Fella, 2001): Great record, but again, Reasonable Doubt is his best.
11. D’Angelo, Voodoo (Virgin, 2000): Nice.
09. DJ Shadow, Endtroducing... (Mox Wax, 1996): Hm. Interesting. Really good record, but top 10 is a tall order.
08. Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Roc-A-Fella, 2010): This is an interesting case where we actively dislike a record and were convinced that we actively disliked Kanye West simply because of an album's high accolades. Meanwhile, Yeezus is still in our top 5 albums of this decade. Woulda been pretty baller of them to include Yeezus over this, just to piss people off. People are gonna be all like SMH placing Kanye in the top 10 in either case, so might as well go all the way with it.
07. Liz Phair, Exile in Guyville (Matador, 1993): #7. Wow. Interesting. We like Whip-Smart better but whatever.
06. Radiohead, OK Computer (Capitol, 1997): Still probably our favorite album ever. It always shows up in these things, so all we can really do is just glance at its placement and say "Yeah, that's pretty much exactly what I expected to see."
05. The Smiths, The Queen Is Dead (Sire, 1986): Oh goodness. How did this end up so high? Paul's Boutique woulda fit in nicely right around here.
04. Daft Punk, Discovery (Virgin, 2001): We were just mentioning to some associates how back in 2001, we loved Discovery immediately, while the consensus of rock fans who were ogling over Bleed American and The Green Album were all like "techno, bleh, whatever." Flash forward to 2007, around the time of Kanye's "Stronger" and when Daft Punk went on their first huge U.S. tour, and suddenly everyone all at once decided to go apeshit for Daft Punk.
03. Prince, Sign o’ the Times (Paisley Park / Warner Bros., 1987): Absolutely love that this placed Top 3, and we were right about this being foreshadowed by CrazySexyCool earlier.
02. Wu-Tang Clan, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (Loud/RCA, 1993)
01. Nirvana, Nevermind (DGC, 1991): How baller would that have been if SPIN was like, "you know, Nevermind is dope, but it would be so baller to place it at #2 and instead place Enter the Wu-Tang at #1. What do you guys think?" And then they decided to switch them instead. It's a great Top 2, but we're just sick of seeing "#1" written next to Nevermind all the time. Throw it in #6 or #8 for once.
Nice list overall. We still like how SPIN does it better than most other publications. They surprisingly didn't let us down.
Okay, so we're huge nerds, and we're done with this.