Sunday, August 3, 2003

At major magazines, lists are No. 1

Magazines have long known the water cooler value of a controversial list.

Rolling Stone, which a few years ago partnered with MTV on lists such as the "Top 100 Pop Songs Since 1963" (No. 1 "Yesterday"), in August will unveil "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time," followed at year's end by "The Rolling Stone 500," a countdown of the top 500 albums of all time.

Over the past 12 months, Spin magazine has weighed in on the "20 Sleazy Rock Moments" (No. 1 Fred Durst dishing on Britney), and, in its latest issue, the 30 "Most Badass People in Rock," a list topped by blues rockers du jour, the White Stripes.

Spin's editor in chief Sia Michel admits she keeps a few top 10 lists on hand to help her pick out movies at the video store, but says the genre seems to be playing itself out. Hence, Spin's April 2003 "Ultimate List" issue, which featured a parody of lists.

Among topics were, "Top Fifteen Most Influential Albums ( ... Not Recorded by the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Elvis, or the Rolling Stones)" (No. 1 The Velvet Underground & Nico) and "Seven Rock Stars with Bad Teeth" (Shane MacGowan, ex-Pogues).

"With that [Ultimate] issue we did every ridiculous idea we could think of," said Michel, "but we ended up doing the latest list issue because we found ourselves spending 20 minutes arguing over the relative merits of one artist's style over another, so it seemed natural."

Gil Kaufman

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At major magazines, lists are No. 1

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Get to it!