Is it possible for people to agree on a single album that “we” all like? Is there a record that when it plays on the radio or at a party everyone in the room can really enjoy no matter what form of music they generally prefer? Although the skeptic in me might think that it’s somewhat mathematically improbable or impossible, the music lover in me begs to differ – contrarianism as idealism, what a novel concept. Well, if there is such a “holy grail” of an album, NPR’s All Songs Considered is on a summer long quest to find it.
The dynamic musical duo of public radio, Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton, are inviting its listeners to chime on in the albums that they feel are “universally” loved and they will be sharing the results and conducting polls to find the ten albums (?!?) that everyone can agree to agree on. Personally, I’m curious to see what might come of it. Now, it is important to note, as Bob and Robin do, that this isn’t necessarily a survey of “the best”, “greatest”, or “most important” records. This might lead to a great deal of disharmony. Rather, the goal is to find common ground across the wide breadth of musical preferences. I draw your attention to this particular segment of All Songs Considered because I think Bob and Robin talk about music in a way that demonstrates their love and passion for music as well as presenting material, new and old, in a manner that all folks can relate to, a sort of everyman’s radio show. I think this first installment of this recurring series perfectly encapsulates their appreciation for a broad range of music from Billie Holiday (a personal favorite) to Bob Marley (amazing song choice by Glen Hansard) to AC/DC and Boston, both of which are bands that you wouldn’t think two nerdy music types would dig. (I do have to agree that Back In Black is definitely a killer record.)
If you’ve never listened to the All Songs Considered Podcast I would MOST DEFINITELY encourage you to start listening, and this might be the perfect introduction. (If you like it, I would also suggest that you either subscribe to their podcast (it’s free!) via iTunes or their website or listen via Google Listen (for Android users) or the NPR Music App (for the iPhone). For the record, I don’t work for NPR, I just really appreciate what they do and trying to spread the word about their non-News features.)
- To listen to the first installment of NPR’s “Can’t We All Just Get Along? Our Search For The Albums Everyone Loves” podcast, click and stream here.
You can also nominate albums for their consideration in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
In case you are wondering what I would add to the list of albums not already showcased or named on the show, here’s a small handful:
- – Astral Weeks
- The Beatles – Abbey Road
- Beach Boys – Pet Sounds
- the Band – s/t
- Bob Dylan – Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan or Blonde on Blonde
- – Getz/Gilberto
- Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
- – Rumours
- Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms
Yes, this list contains not a single album after about 1985. This isn’t to say there aren’t great records that have been made in the past thirty years. I just couldn’t really think of anything of recent memory that has “universal appeal”. Artists like the Smiths, Nirvana, Radiohead, R.E.M., Belle and Sebastian and Wilco dominate my record collection and personal favorites list but I know lots of people to whom these don’t appeal. The only record of recent vintage I thought of including was Mumford and Sons Sigh No More because it has the sort of cross-over appeal of say the Once soundtrack.
What would you suggest? Feel free to submit your thoughts in the comments section here (but please do add your thoughts to NPR’s site as well!).
p.s. In other NPR news, check out the new records on First Listen (here’s a Link), including:
- Regina Spektor
- Sigur Ros !!!
- The Walkmen
- Saint Etienne !!!