If you’ve logged on recently, you might have noticed that online is bad. But in recent weeks, a sort-of-almost-maybe-kind-of-good trend has sprung up amongst the quarantined. Or at least, a trend that seems like it could be good at first glance. You’ve seen it: the no-skip album challenge, the five perfect films, whatever that Bill Clinton thing is.
These challenges offer a chance to bask in shared cultural connections and revisit some of our favorite pieces of art. They also offer a chance to stress the fuck out.
I mean, what even is a no-skip album? Like I know definitionally what those words mean, but is it an album I’ve never once skipped a song on? Or an album where I love every song? An album where I like every song enough to give it a listen? Even my favorite albums of all time get boring if I’m not in the right mood.
And is everyone else adhering to the same rules? Or should I just pick my favorite few albums and call it a day? When I first started thinking of no-skip albums my mind flew to Channel Orange, but then… I looked at the track list. And yeah, it’s got some all-time great songs. More classics than any album really has a right to, in my opinion. But then there’s the slightly underwhelming forgotten tracks too. And the interludes! If I skip an interlude, is that no longer a no-skip album?
And more importantly, what will other people think if I don’t include Channel Orange? Am I a fake Frank fan? Uncultured swine? And what if I include My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy? Am I endorsing Kanye’s misogyny and absurdist political semi-ideology?
Or what if I end up with just Springsteen, Bon Iver, Carly Rae Jepson, and Fleetwood Mac? #NoSkipAlbumsListSoWhite?
And don’t even get me started on the five perfect movies challenge. No movie is perfect, even the greatest films ever made. It’s A Wonderful Life was an easy inclusion for me, but the treatment of Annie (and other women) throughout is deeply troubling. Silence of the Lambs still takes my breath away, but at what point are gender non-conforming individuals going to stop being portrayed as deranged and dangerous?
Truthfully, the challenge lies in putting together a list that shows just how cool, cultured, intelligent, and relatable you are. You need a mix of high brow and humorous, a list that shows you’ve got love for the classics but are in touch with the times,* one that includes diversity of experience but does not include Green Book.
Ultimately, I think the problem with these challenges is that I am wildly insecure and need everyone to love and cherish me constantly. A therapist might say that’s unrealistic or self-defeating but joke’s on you, my insurance doesn’t have first-dollar mental health coverage so we’ll never truly know.
So I’ll just keep curating, desperately trying to hone my brand through my choices. As I write this, a friend has literally just tagged me in the Bill Clinton one. I think this is just albums I vibe with, right? Or is it ones I listen to after not inhaling a marijuana cigarette? My favorite jams for corporate-friendly center-left activism?
Rest assured, I’ll stress about this one a lot too.
*If you don’t have Moonlight or Get Out on your list, I don’t fuck with you anymore. Sorry, that’s the rules.