FALSE ALARM: For all the bloggorhea and backlash, Vampire Weekend scored one whole vote.
Every last one of you who votes in our Best Music Poll is a treasure; but blessed are those who write-in. Our meager handful of nominees can only do so much, and compiling our list often ignites within us a level of anguish that can only be likened to choosing between one’s children, or selecting your Top 8, or something. Be assured, despite what our system suggests, we are well aware that plenty of other awesome bands and records are out there; but print, you might recall, is a charmingly finite medium, and we can only type up so many choices. Besides, polls without shameless mechanisms to skew numbers and/or generate outrage are no fun at all.
|View results and more from this year's Phoenix/WFNX Best Music Poll at BestMusicPoll.com.|
Those Phoenix readers who scan the nominees, release an indignant puffing sound, and huffily write in their alternatives are of a distinguished line. They are the people who will never settle for what is given to them. They are the folks who do not simply rise above their options but stand and shout into the din, convinced by their conviction that independence is, indeed, the only path to truth. Writers-in are heroes. (Unless we’re talking about the presidential race — then they’re just assholes.)
As much as our gallery of winners can convey (or reaffirm) to you the state of which prominent artists have the longest Boston-based buddy lists, a survey of the less fortunate can offer some much-needed clarity in a musical atmosphere gone murky with the smog of hype. Example: essentially inoffensive but obnoxiously ubiquitous Graceland-ganking boy-toys Vampire Weekend were all anyone could bother to post about just months ago; but for all the premature blogorrhea and resultant backlash, the lads scored one whole vote in the category for Breakthrough Act. A devoted, decisive, “don’t-forget-Vampire-Weekend” vote, sure, but just one. Feist smoked them by like 296 clicks. In the same race, Rihanna bitchslapped Lily Allen but fell to comfortably funded punkers Against Me! (exclamation point theirs). Point being: weird.
Clearly, this is not about getting definitive answers, nor is it about dissing the winners. Answers are boring and dissing winners is for losers — the bad kind of losers. I’d rather talk about the good kind of losers. Losers like Freezepop, who, despite being über-local favorites, somehow showed up two votes strong on the national Best Album rankings — getting trounced by Radiohead’s vanilla opus In Rainbows but deadlocking with Arcade Fire and Band of Horses, and straight-up smacking R. Kelly, Jens Lekman, and — oh snap! — Feist. That two overzealous “Freezerpop” [sic] fans with a fuzzy understanding of the poll’s parameters are behind this unlikely battle, there is no doubt. Still, it’s nice to imagine this fantasy world on the other side of the ballot, where the National’s Boxer socks the Foos right in their Fighters, where Bright Eyes and Bruce Springsteen split their six total votes right down the middle of mediocrity, and where one whole person gives a shit about Nickelback.
Often, the write-in entries can expose the dependably sturdy riding power of laurels. For instance, Radiohead nabbed the trifecta of top honors for National Act, Best Album, and Best Male Vocalist (the yowling Thom Yorke); but only three of their 432 frothing devotees could be arsed to nominate an actual song from In Rainbows as the year’s best (and those who did chose, duh, “Bodysnatchers”). Dave Grohl met with a similar boondoggle in the Hard Rock Act category, taking top honors there but losing pretty hard to just about everyone in the song department. Meanwhile, the write-ins for Best Hard Rock Act signal the sort of up-and-coming energy that the winners have long since spent: Oakland stoner-pleasers High on Fire clocked in with 52 write-ins; promising Columbus tape-slamming post-GbV popsters Times New Viking netted a healthy 13; and Maryland stalwarts Clutch hung in with five. Oh, and R.E.M. scored one. Nice try, Dad.
One would require no crystal ball to foresee the admittedly talented and seemingly indestructible Amy Winehouse taking gold in the Female Vocalist and R&B Act categories. After all, she sold the most records, maintained the tallest hair, and gobbled the most Klonopin. But local phenom Antje Duvekot snuck into Best National Female Vocalist with four votes (tying Amanda Palmer), while lone votes for Gillian Welch, Sharon Jones, Marissa Nadler, Eilen Jewell, and Regina Spektor ensured that some dignity was retained up in this piece. Props to whoever wrote in Clay Aiken.
In the punk category, Dropkick Murphys dropkicked closest also-rans Against Me! by 469 votes, which was no surprise given the fiery fidelity maintained by their fans. What was surprising is that 11 people submitted identical typos in favor of the “Romones,” three people consider the Dresden Dolls legitimately punk rock, and some dude out there is still hung up enough on Black Flag to write them in. Our own Street Dogs scored a respectable two votes (wives?) while line-straddling newbs like Fucked Up, Pissed Jeans, Be Your Own Pet, and Everybody Out grabbed one each. Oh, and once again, “Freezerpop,” would you please gain control of your superfans?