Winning losers

Stand up for your write(-ins)
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  May 7, 2008

FALSE ALARM: For all the bloggorhea and backlash, Vampire Weekend scored one whole vote.

View results and more from this year's Phoenix/WFNX Best Music Poll at
Every last one of you who votes in our Best Music Poll is a treasure; but blessed are those who write-in. Our meager handful of nominees can only do so much, and compiling our list often ignites within us a level of anguish that can only be likened to choosing between one’s children, or selecting your Top 8, or something. Be assured, despite what our system suggests, we are well aware that plenty of other awesome bands and records are out there; but print, you might recall, is a charmingly finite medium, and we can only type up so many choices. Besides, polls without shameless mechanisms to skew numbers and/or generate outrage are no fun at all.

Those Phoenix readers who scan the nominees, release an indignant puffing sound, and huffily write in their alternatives are of a distinguished line. They are the people who will never settle for what is given to them. They are the folks who do not simply rise above their options but stand and shout into the din, convinced by their conviction that independence is, indeed, the only path to truth. Writers-in are heroes. (Unless we’re talking about the presidential race — then they’re just assholes.)

As much as our gallery of winners can convey (or reaffirm) to you the state of which prominent artists have the longest Boston-based buddy lists, a survey of the less fortunate can offer some much-needed clarity in a musical atmosphere gone murky with the smog of hype. Example: essentially inoffensive but obnoxiously ubiquitous Graceland-ganking boy-toys Vampire Weekend were all anyone could bother to post about just months ago; but for all the premature blogorrhea and resultant backlash, the lads scored one whole vote in the category for Breakthrough Act. A devoted, decisive, “don’t-forget-Vampire-Weekend” vote, sure, but just one. Feist smoked them by like 296 clicks. In the same race, Rihanna bitchslapped Lily Allen but fell to comfortably funded punkers Against Me! (exclamation point theirs). Point being: weird.

Clearly, this is not about getting definitive answers, nor is it about dissing the winners. Answers are boring and dissing winners is for losers — the bad kind of losers. I’d rather talk about the good kind of losers. Losers like Freezepop, who, despite being über-local favorites, somehow showed up two votes strong on the national Best Album rankings — getting trounced by Radiohead’s vanilla opus In Rainbows but deadlocking with Arcade Fire and Band of Horses, and straight-up smacking R. Kelly, Jens Lekman, and — oh snap! — Feist. That two overzealous “Freezerpop” [sic] fans with a fuzzy understanding of the poll’s parameters are behind this unlikely battle, there is no doubt. Still, it’s nice to imagine this fantasy world on the other side of the ballot, where the National’s Boxer socks the Foos right in their Fighters, where Bright Eyes and Bruce Springsteen split their six total votes right down the middle of mediocrity, and where one whole person gives a shit about Nickelback.

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