It’s the list we all love to hate. Every December, every year electronic music fans band together like some form of dance music scrooges to congratulate and waste 45 minutes of their day typing paragraphs on comment sections about their favourite artists, bash the ‘hyped’ ones and generally just have a bit of a pout about the Resident Advisor Top 100 DJs list. I myself am included in that list because here I am writing an article about it.
While I find my entertainment in reading disenchanted committed basement dwellers’ concerns of “true techno”, “keeping it old school” and reminding myself Dixon is still alive (or very much just undead) I am reminded of the stark intellectual conclusion I come to each year as a result of my animosity, and observations that the same animosity and free time at the keyboard that essentially makes the entire list what it is. From just about every big DJ cropping in with their disappointments or their Twitter thanks it shows like most people say: even bad publicity is good publicity and when that publicity is down to a mixture of hard work, the anonymous public, PR teams and botnets from India it’s hard to make the blame towards a publication that is simply providing a gateway for people (or robots alike) to vote. It is with that gargantuan amount of misplaced, mish-mash of data that it can very much feel like any credibility to the list is void, where the only carrying factor for the validity of it comes from the solid reputation and professional platform RA provides and journalism it is founded on (except the Djrum – Seven Lies LP review).
It’s all too easy to name a list as pointless. I for one remember being named 15th in the list of ‘Cutest Year 9 Boys’ in High School out of 20 other boys. Did any of those girls know that I had written a program in Intel assembly code back then? Did they know about my Warp collection? Clearly not and it is their loss in not recognising such achievements I had made since growing hair in weird places. What made matters worse was that it was an unfair vote, only the popular girls participated in the list, yet it dictated the course of popularity throughout most of the year, often getting quoted in the locker room and resorting me to spending the remainder of my school year in the music lab, writing poorly synced 2-step on Sony Acid Pro. It wasn’t until I eventually realised a few weeks later that it was just a piece of paper with some writing on it.
So, as jaded as I want to be about Morphosis, Djrum, Leif, PLO Man and Sotofett among other artists and DJs that were making an actual buzz the entire year not being on RA’s list, the outrage I felt about Optimo being in the bottom 10 and the other “what the hell?!” moments, it is hard to be when I doubt any of them are at home crying tonight because he or she wasn’t featured in a list; especially when they will continue to have the ability to tour and make a living off playing music, which in itself is an accomplishment worth being thankful for. Whether or not you feel spending five minutes clicking on a list is showing any form of gratitude outside of messaging an artist personally (which I highly recommend doing), the only real view you get from the Top 100 is a insincere reminder of popular examples of everything wrong, great and alright in our spectrum of the electronic music world, from the crate hoppers to the tanned, chiselled beaches of Ibiza and the contrast of how small some scenes are in comparison to each other.
One look at seeing artists like Mall Grab to the Black Madonna appear this year too also serves as a reminder of how far some artists come within a short period of time, whether you feel they deserve to be there or not. So, don’t be down. Cheer up. Just don’t be fooled into thinking it is anything more than a popularity contest tallied with votes from the people who could actually be bothered voting. It serves for nothing more than a pat on the back and a substance-less wheel of fortune for promoters to turn to for the rest of the year, and a vehicle to increase the fees of those who made the cut. In that respect, maybe we should be thankful that the list isn’t what we’d what, so our favourite deejays remain off the list, and we can continue to afford them at our parties.