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Another Day, Another List

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 4, 2005 2:28PM

2005_04_04_rocks.jpgThis week’s New City cover story “Music 45: Who Rocks Chicago” features 45 artists, talent bookers, and executives who rock Chicago. Though the awkward punctuation had us scratching our heads for a while, that was nothing compared with how we got our dander up over the list itself. Trust us: things get ugly when our dander is in the up position.

Chicagoist was taken aback by the inclusion of so many--two in the top 10--who may have once rocked Chicago but have left to rock (or rap) other cities (R. Kelly, Kanye West, Common). Most of the other folks in the top 10 are the gatekeepers who decide what artists get exposure in the Windy City: Joe Shanahan at Metro; booking agents for Jam, Clear Channel, and House of Blues; and tastemakers at radio like independent record promoter Jeff McClusky and longtime Chicagoan and Clear Channel VP John Gehron.

The patchwork feel of the list is probably best explained by the inevitable conflict that arises when four writers work on such an undertaking. How else to explain Rise Against way down at #45 even though 2004 was their biggest year to date and they’re poised to break wide in 2005. The definition of rock is also stretched to its breaking point as the directors of Ravinia and the Lyric Opera find themselves nestled among the owners of such Chicago record labels as Thrill Jockey and Touch and Go.

The list’s most notable omission was the subject of a splashy Tribune Arts and Entertainment cover story this Sunday: Internet music magazine Pitchfork. Greg Kot perfectly captures the soul of Pitchfork: wildly influential and maddeningly mercurial. Arguably a great resource for discovering new music, we still see plenty of Pitchfork reviews that give us more insight into the mind of the reviewer than the music of the band itself. Kot places Pitchfork in the larger context of MP3 blogs, e-zines and the like that make or break new artists like M.I.A. and Aracade Fire.

Yes, without those MP3 blogs how ever would we discover gems like Jennifer Love Hewitt’s execrable cover of “Dancing With Myself,” which proves once and for all that as a singer, JLH makes a great Maxim cover girl.