Nick Bollinger and the essentials of music lists

A lot of the talk around Nick Bollinger's latest book, 100 Essential New Zealand Albums, seems to focus around how music lovers love to love lists, and how it's the hardest thing in the world to compare albums across time, genre and popularity. This is all true, but this all falls second to something I think we've all overlooked: music criticism and appreciation as conversation.

Each new album in Bollinger's book is introduced by an iTunes-style transport bar at the top of the page; a play button, back and forward, the volume on full. It's this reference to an album as a digital artifact that reminded me that most of the lists I see these days are online. Blogs, music sites, Facebook pages, this is the home of the top ten list for me. You can even make your own lists on this website, like this one called 'Kiwi music.' The best part about this is that allows for reply, for discussion, for defence and for outright flaming. We all come off being a hell of a lot more invested in the list, even if we still hate it.

Even print magazines like Rolling Stone and Q publish their lists online, and when they don't a reader will do it for them. That's because we want to discuss this stuff. Music listening is a relationship for us nerds, it's not a one-way street. And while yelling at a record won't change that record, yelling about a record can change how you relate to it.

When Bollinger talks at the Central City Libray on Thurdsay 13 May I hope it's more of a conversation than a lecture. It's all kicking off with a complimentary glass of wine, which I hope proves conducive to a little bit of back and forth on the subject. Bollinger is a pro, but he's not staying on the mountaintop. I'm not saying that he needs to be shouted down, but a little bit of back and forth can be a good thing. You might not change his mind on anything, but you might just make up yours.

Nick Bollinger is in the Central City Library this Thursday 13 May from 6pm. Bookings are recommended, phone 377 0209.


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