Monday, May 11, 2009

Ten Top Problems with Top Ten Lists

Again, I scour the internets so you won't have to.

While hunting for a digitized version of Bruce Springsteen's "Held Up Without a Gun" (the studio version that only appeared as the B-side of the "Hungry Heart" single and has never been on an album and never appeared on CD, not the live version), I stumbled upon a wealth of musical Top Ten Lists.

And realized there are a lot of problems with many of the Top Ten Lists online. So many problems that I came up with a Top Ten list of Problems with (musical) Top Ten Lists:

10. You gotta actually number the list. (And I'm talking to you, ThrowawayBlog!) Yes, people will quibble with your placement of the Top 10 Science Fiction songs of all time... but isn't that why you posted them? Besides, it fools no one when you include 11 songs in your Top Ten and think no one will notice just because they're not numbered!

9. Don't confuse best and worst. When you're making a list of the Top Ten Best Band Names of All Time, you want "the Mr. T Experience," when you're making a list of the worst band names of all time, not so much.

8. Don't forget that not all of your readers will be named Stacey... especially when you're making a list of Top Ten Best Songs About Your Mom.

7. Yeah, it was weird when Run-DMC and Aerosmith teamed up on the remake of "Walk This Way," but it actually worked. So maybe that wouldn't belong on the list of Top Ten Weird Musical Collaborations. On the other hand, the James Brown/Pavarotti collaboration is so bizarre it might just deserve two places on the list.

6. You gotta start at Number 10 and work your way down to Number 1. Otherwise people see that you selected "Pac Man Fever" as your Top Novelty Song of all time and just stop reading.

5. Number 6 is especially true with a bizarre list like the Weirdest Songs Played at Funerals (and please, reporters, verify that someone really played "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" and you weren't just hearing a joke from the weird cousin no one likes).

4. If you have a wide-ranging list, such as the Top Ten Weird Al songs, you might want to state how you chose them. Otherwise it's just random.

3. Speaking of Weird Al, can you really have a list of Top Ten Songs to Munch On and only include one of Weird Al's food songs? Although what can you expect from someone who thinks Pop Tarts suck toasted? :)

2. Don't be afraid to include items on your list that don't really belong but are still cool. But don't be surprised if this upsets people. And don't say things like, "if I put MP3s on the headless Barbie USB drive, it would sort of fit in the list"! (On the other hand, the fish-stick drive would be a great way to store all the songs from Number 3.)

1. No one can possibly believe deep down in their heart that the accordian is geekier than the theremin.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Since the recession hit, I'm only doing Top Four lists. (Everyone's gotta make sacrifices!)