Why I Love What I Love: 30 Favorite Recordings, 2000-2009 (Introduction)

You can bank on the fact that a music critic will look for any opportunity he or she can find to compile a list, and the tale end of 2009 brought a couple; not only were there the usual Best Albums of the Year lists, but also the Best of the Decade. That’s twice the listmaking delight!

Honestly, though, I’m not sure that I’m qualified, or even interested, in compiling such a list. And it’s not because the music of the last decade doesn’t mean much to me. On the contrary, it means a great deal: My first music review was published in the spring of 2000, and my first music review blog started shortly after that, so I’ve been listening to more and more music, with greater depth and focus, ever since. I learned about pop music during this decade. My tastes were formed. My values– musically speaking– were established.

So while I could make an attempt to tell the story of the trends and the breakthroughs, the landmark recordings and the important artists, circa 2000-2009, I’m more interested in telling the story of those records that spoke to me in some way: Those that I found to be illuminating, inspiring, revelatory, comforting, challenging. Albums that taught me how to listen to music, albums that taught me how to live my life.

I’ll be counting down my thirty favorite recordings from 2000-2009 over the course of five days next week. These are the records that explain– as my title indicates– why I love what I love. The final list is, I think, a pretty good blueprint, an explanation of what I find to be moving in a given recording. I offer only one further disclaimer, which is to say that I wanted this to be a list of recordings that stand on their own merit, not token recordings from artists whose work I enjoy in a more general sense. In other words, there are many bands whose body of work I find to be consistently engaging, but no one album quite rose to the ranks of the top 30, so their presence is– painfully– lacking here. And on that note, let me offer an apology to two men in particular: Bono and Jack White, I hope we can still be friends.

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