Last weekend, the editors of Entertainment Weekly dropped their annual summer double issue and gave us a good two weeks of debating material.
Is Pulp Fiction really the best film of the last 25 years?
Does Amy Winehouse's year-old debut already deserve Top 10 classic status?
Public Enemy doesn't make the Top 50?
Yes, it's another set of lists. We say that with no derision, because hey, we're going to give you some lists on Sunday. Lists are fun, because they are always a matter of opinion, which means most everyone who reads one will have some modicum of disagreement with it.
EW's new lists are pretty ambitious: The New Classics is 1,000 of the best movies, TV shows, albums, books and other stuff over the past 25 years. My favorite list was actually the final one: Tech, where they named the, "top 25 innovations that changed entertainment."
Even there though, I'd argue against ranking the iPod at No. 4, below the DVD player, Napster and TiVo. Yes, the DVD is a cool advance in home video, but it still was just another method of delivering the videos in some tangible form. The iPod introduced the concept of owning a whole album without leaving your home, or even just picking and choosing the songs you want; singles, but you choose what's a single. It's the most radical change in the distribution of recorded music since the beginning of recorded music. How do you top that?
See, arguing it is almost inescapable.
Pulp Fiction, for me, was a good place to start. I've always considered it a bit overrated, over romanticized. Good movie, snappy dialog and engaging story structure, but not quite all that.
But if you want to argue towering influence, then its No. 1 seems a bit more legit. How many Pulp wannabes have we seen since 1994? Interestingly, Forrest Gump, the movie that beat Pulp Fiction for the Oscar for best picture, isn't even on EW's Top 100. (It's worth noting that EW has always been in love with Pulp.)
There are some nice picks on the movie list, such as Blue Velvet at No. 4, acknowledging the off-kilter brilliance of David Lynch, and giving Merchant Ivory's A Room with a View a nod at No. 24. The Helena Bonham Carter starmaker ushered in the chick-flick-as-literary-costume-drama era we're still in today.
The music list had several nice visionary choices, such as Madonna's self-titled 1983 album at No. 5, OutKast's Stankonia at No. 12, and R.E.M.'s Life's Rich Pageant at No. 32. All were great albums, and all set the stage for the artists' subsequent chart toppers -- Like a Virgin, Speakerboxx/The Love Below and Document, respectively. But then, somehow, Nirvana's Nevermind is left off in favor of MTV Unplugged. ?!
See, debating is sooooo easy. And fun.
I will also give EW props for trying to limit the number of entries from any one artist to one or two. I seem to remember years ago when Rolling Stone dropped a list of the best rock albums ever, and half the Top 10 was by The Beatles. But then, that list also gave this young rock fan a lot of listening to go do.
And this list from Entertainment Weekly seems to come at a perfect time, right before the laziest days of summer. I'd write more, but I've got some watching and listening to do.
P.S.: A very cool thing about the Top 50 stage list is that four of the shows -- Angels in America (No. 1), Elaine Stritch at Liberty (17), Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk (24) and Topdog/Underdog (49) were all directed by Frankfort's own George C. Wolf. People, we don't revere this guy enough.