When Pitchfork first announced their plans to poll their readership to gauge the top albums of the past 15 years, my reaction was something along the lines of, “Ooh, this can be fun!”  Like everyone else of the internet age, I like lists.

Having a chance to read over the results, I now feel foolish for that initial rush of excitement.  Lists are still fun, of course, but why would Pitchfork’s People’s List would be any different than any other list published by Pitchfork?  These people, like me, read the website and go to the festivals.

Consequently, I didn’t come across one album, not one, that I would call a surprise inclusion in a Top 200 all too predictable in its praise of Radiohead (#1, #2, 4 albums in the top 20/5 in the top 200), Arcade Fire (2 in the Top 20, 3 in the Top 40),  Animal Collective (#8 and 4 in the Top 200), Kanye West (6 appearances, 1 with Jay-Z), LCD Soundsystem (all 3 albums in the Top 100), Spoon (4 in the Top 200) and The Flaming Lips (2 in the Top 20).  Joanna Newsom makes three appearances, as does Wilco, M83, The National, Beck, Modest Mouse, Elliott Smith, and TV on the Radio.  Of those previously mentioned artists, Animal Collective, Modest Mouse, LCD Soundsystem, Spoon, The Flaming Lips, M83, and TV on the Radio have all appeared at a Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago.

What I did find interesting, is neither the lack of women, minorities, country or metal artists (C’mon Jody, there’s no correlation between gender of favorite music and political affiliation; a list compiled by readers of an indie rock website is going to be heavy on indie rock.  Just admit your article for Slate is comment bait and move on), nor the lack of Robert Pollard (I harbored no illusion that my ballot stuffed with votes for the Guided by Voices fromtman and all of his associated side projects would have an effect on the larger outcome), but once again, how Radiohead’s popularity is able to cross genre boundaries.  The interactive website allows one to filter the results by age, gender (where the top 20 for men and women is nearly identical, btw), geography, and favorite genre.  When one clicks on Rock, Radiohead shows up at numbers 1, 3, and 6.  With Electronic fans, Radiohead is 1, 2 and 12.  For Hip-Hop it’s 6 and 9, Experimental, 1, 2, 7, and 11, Americana, 3 and 10, Pop/R&B, 2 and 3, Metal, 1, 3, and 17, and Global, 1, 2, and 10.  Everyone really does love Radiohead.  I witnessed this phenomena firsthand during the band’s recent appearance in Cleveland and it still floors me how a band who’s become stridently artistic, increasingly shunning convention, is able to sustain such a mass appeal.

At this point, it has to be said that Radiohead has become as American as having one gun in your holster, one in your glove box and two more at home. Or, it’s possible that Metal fans who read Pitchfork aren’t the same audience as Decibel readers and Hip/Hop fans who read Pitchfork aren’t the same as those who read XXL.  Let’s go with that.  I don’t like thinking of Radiohead and guns.  It gets depressing.

The People’s List: The Top 200 Albums of 1996 -2011 as Voted by Pitchfork Readers:

1. Radiohead – OK Computer
2. Arcade Fire – Funeral
3. Radiohead – Kid A
4. Neutral Milk Hotel –  In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
5. The Strokes – Is This It
6. Radiohead – In Rainbows
7. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
8. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
9. Interpol – Turn On the Bright Lights
10. LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver
11. Sufjan Stevens – Illinois
12. The Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin
13. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
14. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
15. Sigur Rós – Ágætis Byrjun
16. Arcade Fire –  The Suburbs
17. The xx – The xx
18. Modest Mouse – The Moon & Antarctica
19. The Flaming Lips –  Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
20. Fleet Foxes –  Fleet Foxes

My Ballot with Only Robert Pollard Albums

1. Guided by Voices – Under the Bushes, Under the Stars
2. Guided by Voices – Mag Earwhig
3. Guided by Voices – Isolation Drills
4. Guided by Voices – Do the Collapse
5. Guided by Voices – Jellyfish Reflector
6. Boston Spaceships – Let it Beard
7. Guided by Voices – Sunfish Holy Breakfast
8. Boston Spaceships – Zero to 99
9. Boston Spaceships – The Planets Are Blasted
10. Guided by Voices – Hold on Hope EP
11. Need I continue to 50?

My More Serious Ballot

1. Spiritualized – Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space
2. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Murder Ballads
3. Yo La Tengo –  I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One
4. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
5. Guided by Voices – Under the Bushes, Under the Stars
6. The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
7. Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
8. Radiohead – OK Computer
9. The Verve – Urban Hymns
10. Jay Reatard – Blood Visions
11. Moby – Play
12. Elliott Smith – Either/Or
13. The White Stripes – White Blood Cells
14. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – Hearts of Oak
15. The Shins – Oh, Inverted World
16. The Strokes – Is This It
17. Mogwai – Young Team
18. Mclusky – Mclusky Do Dalls
19. Yo La Tengo – And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out
20. Modest Mouse – The Lonesome Crowded West