Thank you sir, may I have another?
“We don’t question the power of the OS, but the fit, finish, and ease of use simply is still not there.”
Many Android customers recognize the lack of polish, usability, or elegance in certain features or certain aspects of the platform. The assumption, either implied or stated, is often that these issues will all get better Any Day Now, and we’re just waiting for Google to get all the way down to “attention to detail” on their Android development checklist.
I’m not holding my breath. Android will continue to exhibit what Google does best: great low-level engineering and tight integration with Google’s other services. But it’s never going to be Apple-like in user experience, polish, or design.
Attention to detail, like most facets of truly good design, can’t be (and never is) added later. It’s an entire development philosophy, methodology, and _culture_.
Great products, far more often than not, are great since day one.
I agree with this sentiment immediately, and I mean no disrespect to Marco, but let’s look in the mirror: Tumblr was great on day one, but here we are a few years in, and it’s a total clusterfuck. Yeah, the interface is simple and pretty. Yeah, the directory stickers are cute. But it blue screens harder and more often than a ten year old laptop running Windows Vista.
I also think this idea of “great on day one” reflects a pretty rose-tinted view of the iPhone and a pretty narrow-minded view of “great.” The question is, which details matter? Something tells me that the Nexus S is “great” at at least one thing that the iPhone is STILL pretty terrible at: being a fucking PHONE. Blame it on AT&T if you want, but the dropped-call rate for my iPhone is higher than any other phone I’ve ever owned.
“Attention to detail,” my ass.
I know it’s totally lame to love year end lists, but I can’t help it. I love ‘em. Fucking sue me.
Well, to clarify, it’s the personal lists I dig, the ones that are brimming with enthusiasm. I love reading about which records affected my friends or people I respect, or even people I don’t know at all. And I can’t tell you how many records over the years would have passed me by had they not gotten that second chance to grab my eyes and ears via end-of-year lists.
I’m just not that keen on the big round-ups, which often have a lowest common denominator feel to them, and which have unspoken rules about what being the “best” means. I feel like it’s mostly a circle jerk of spineless frauds who look over each other’s shoulders to decide what specific blend of commercial success and critical appeal to reward in a given year. It’s never going to be Taylor Swift now is it?
Think about how many music writing outlets there are online and in print, and yet the top 10 are almost identical. Out of like 40,000 records released per year? There is one consensus record that is the “best” record of the year? Please. It’s bullshit.
Which is not to say the winner isn’t deserving, it’s just, well, it has to fit into a certain narrative. Crossover appeal. Popular with the masses and the nerds. Discussion-worthy. Kanye’s record is excellent, but just about every writeup spends 50% of the space talking about the man instead of the music.
The only question that’s interesting is what dark horse, which commercially irrelevant critics darling, is going to be chosen for the token spot in the top 10, never to be listened to again.
I mean, honestly, when was the last time you put on The Fiery Furnaces’ Blueberry Boat? I’m guessing, like about two weeks after it was Pitchfork’s #4 of ‘04 was the last time anyone in the universe ever gave a shit.
This year, for the token outsider, Pitchfork picked three EPs by James Blake for the 8 spot. Nothing against Blake, whose Klavierwerke is really great (the only one of his EPs I’ve heard), but he’s the kind of artist that gets those hideously pretentious write-ups that make you want to never listen to interesting music ever again and instead go off hunting for people’s faces, Cheney-style. This is the beginning of Pitchfork’s review of it from a couple of months ago:
“Klavierwerke” simply means “piano works” in German. It’s a name you’d normally find in classical music— a collection of Beethoven sonatas, for instance, might be called this. In James Blake’s hands, it’s something different. The gifted British producer’s new EP is rooted in the piano (he’s classically trained), but he gave it a German name as an homage to famed Berlin techno spot Berghain.
Christ, now I’m getting language lessons from (probably) a 23 year old in MC Hammer pants and physics professor eyewear who likes to pop and lock to Stockhausen sound collages. Fucking kill me.
What this means is that there are probably thousands of people scrambling to dig up James Blake EPs so that they quickly name drop him at the holiday party whilst nibbling on ironic Sandra Lee Kwanzaa Cake.
But look, I’m sorry, I’ve gone off the goddamned rails again.
Pitchfork is what it is, and I don’t mean to begrudge it’s top 1000 list or whatever. It has it’s place, it’s fine.
My point, what was it?
I love when lists don’t fit in the standard top 10 box. The ballots and point system over at the AV Club are interesting. I’ve enjoyed the individual lists over at All Songs Considered. Dusted’s contributors are always dropping tons of records I’ve never heard of.
But it’s the non-critic ones that are the best. Dave Holmes has been penning some lovely entries to encapsulate his year and even put up a nice little mix, while Michael Ian Black was unapologetic in his love for an avant-garde solo piano record from 2000. My friend Chris, who’s going through some nasty, took his time to express just how much the Minutemen’s Double Nickels on the Dime meant to him this year. Awesome. Well, not awesome, in fact the opposite of awesome, but you know what I mean.
I also enjoy putting these lists together myself because they force me to look backwards. I enjoy digging through the year’s releases, seeing how my view of things have changed.
But I’m finding it difficult this year. I just don’t feel like I have one list. Too wide a range of things that fit into different niches. And I don’t have time to write even a short blurb on each of my favorite 20 or so records.
So I don’t know what I’m going to do.
But I promise it’s going to be awesome.
Or maybe not.
Sofia Coppola is on Fresh Air. She made two truly lovely films then made the totally pretentious vapidfest that was Marie Antoinette. She’s now made her third moody meditation on being rich and bored, Somewhere. Aw, poor self-destructive famous actor celebrity person with a cute daughter, I hope you find yourself! I want to watch a movie about celebrity culture and reality TV in LA about as much as I want to read poetry about why short stories suck. Get over your fucking self. Don’t you have some champagne to can?