Sunday, June 8, 2008

Criteria for and Origins of the Album of the Summer

The Disclaimers

1. I have no authority to make this announcement. I majored in English. I played cornet in high school (sometimes sitting in the first chair), but that was a long time ago. I typically buy no more than three CDs per year, and I do not consider myself particularly musical.
2. This selection is not the result of an exhaustive scientific process. I listen to reviews of albums on NPR; I listen to things being played in the local coffee shop; and I try to take note of any good songs I hear in movies. People tell me about albums they like. Despite a rather casual approach to this project, I have discovered music that I and others have enjoyed for the last few summers. 

The (Demanding if Somewhat Idiosyncratic and Not Rigidly Adhered To) Criteria for an Album of the Summer:

1. I have to like it. Enough so that I am fairly confident I will not get tired of it before the summer is over.
2. It has to be happy. It helps if you feel like dancing. Over the years this has been the most troubling criterion. The first ever Album of the Summer (see below) was quite happy, and happy seems appropriate for music played in the car with the windows rolled down. But I have come to realize that most of what I listen to throughout the year is quite sad—desperately so, in some cases—or at least a little angry. So, this is where the “Not Rigidly Adhered To” loophole has most often been applied.
3. It has to be new to me, but this is no guarantee that it is, in fact, new or that it is new to you.

The Album of the Summer award was launched with an opinion piece I published in the Providence Journal on November 28, 2003. This article named Fountains of Wayne's Welcome Interstate Managers as the first Album of the Summer and created a lasting association of this warm-weather ritual with my children, Emily and Graham.

Clicking the image below will make it large enough to read.

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