Tag Archives: best of

My Kid Could List That: Introducing the Updated Art Lists

I’ve updated the Best Works of Art lists, both the ranked (with the artworks on the most lists at the top) and chronological versions. (The chronological version, in seven parts, is called Art History 101.) I’ve added a number of new lists to the meta-list and also changed the formatting somewhat. Hope you enjoy.

Here are the links:
Best Works of Art of All Time – Ranked, Part 1
Best Works of Art of All Time – Ranked, Part 2
Best Works of Art of All Time – Ranked, Part 3

Art History 101, Part 1 (Prehistory-399 CE)
Art History 101, Part 2 (400 CE – 1399)
Art History 101, Part 3 (1400 – 1499)
Art History 101, Part 4 (1500 – 1599)
Art History 101, Part 5 (1600 – 1799)
Art History 101, Part 6 (1800 – 1899)
Art History 101, Part 7 (1900 – Present)

I’ve done a little analysis of the entire artworks meta-list. There are a total of 555 artworks (actually more because some entries encompass series or artworks with multiple versions). There are artworks from Europe, Asia, Africa, North America and South America, although the vast majority are from Europe.

Here are the artists with the most works of art on the meta-list:

9 works of art
(The Netherlands, 1606-1669) paintings, prints

8 works of art
(Italy, 1475-1564) sculptures, paintings, architecture
Pieter Bruegel the Elder (The Netherlands, c. 1525/1530-1569) paintings

7 works of art
Leonardo da Vinci
(Italy, 1452-1519) paintings, drawings
Raphael (Italy, 1483-1520) paintings
Titian (Italy, 1488/1490-1576) paintings
Vincent van Gogh (The Netherlands, 1853-1890) paintings, prints

6 works of art
Albrecht Dürer
(Germany, 1471-1528) paintings, prints
Francisco Goya (Spain, 1746-1828) paintings, prints

5 works of art
Jan van Eyck (Belgium, before 1390/1395-1441) paintings
Piero della Francesca (Italy, c. 1415-1492) paintings
Peter Paul Rubens (Germany, 1577-1640) paintings
Diego Velázquez (Spain, 1599-1660) paintings
Gian Lorenzo Bernini (Italy, 1598-1680) sculpture, architecture
Claude Monet (France, 1840-1926) paintings
Pablo Picasso (Spain, 1881-1973) paintings, sculpture, collage
Jackson Pollock (US, 1912-1956) paintings

4 works of art
Donatello (Italy, c. 1386-1466) sculpture
Giovanni Bellini (Italy, c. 1430-1516) paintings
El Greco (Greece, 1541-1614) paintings
Caravaggio (Italy, 1571-1610) paintings
Johannes Vermeer (The Netherlands, 1632-1675) paintings
J.M.W. Turner (UK, 1775-1851) paintings
Édouard Manet (France, 1832-1883) paintings
Paul Cézanne (France, 1839-1906) paintings
Auguste Rodin (France, 1840-1917) sculpture
Georges Seurat (France, 1859-1891) paintings
Henri Matisse (France, 1869-1954) paintings, sculptures, prints

3 works of art
Phidias (Greece, c. 480-430 BCE) sculpture
Paolo Uccello (Italy, 1397-1475) paintings
Andrea Mantegna (Italy, c. 1431-1506) paintings
Hans Holbein the Younger (Germany, c. 1497-1543) paintings
Tintoretto (Italy, 1518-1594) paintings
Frans Hals (Belgium, c. 1582-1666) paintings
Jean-Antoine Watteau (France, 1684-1721) paintings
Théodore Géricault (France, 1791-1824) paintings
Paul Gauguin (France, 1848-1903) paintings, sculpture
Salvador Dali (Spain, 1904-1989) paintings; sculpture

Yes, it’s mostly men. Dead white men. I’m sorry. The contemporary art lists are more diverse. But there are a few works by women on the meta-list.

Works by Women Artists
Unknown Women Embroiderers: The Bayeux Tapestry (c. 1045)
Artemisia Gentileschi: Judith Beheading Holofernes (1611-1613)
Rosa Bonheur: Ploughing in the Nivernais (1849)
Mary CassattThe Child’s Bath (c. 1891)
Frida Kahlo: The Two Fridas (1939)
Helen Frankenthaler: Mountains and Sea (1952)

The artworks span many centuries. Here are the results by time period:

Artworks by Time Period:
28,000 BCE – 1000 BCE:  44
999 BCE – 1 BCE:               52
1 CE – 999 CE:                     35
1000-1099:                            4
1100-1199:                          13
1200-1299:                            6
1300-1399:                          10
1400-1499:                          77
1500-1599:                          61
1600-1699:                          54
1700-1799:                          29
1800-1899:                          81
1900-1999:                          79
2000-Present:                       1

Sound Effects: The Updated Album Meta-Lists

I’ve updated the Best Albums meta-lists to include the most recent Rolling Stone list of the 500 best albums. I also added the new albums from the latest edition of 1001 Recordings to Listen to Before You Die. The meta-lists include every album on three or more of the 35+ original source lists. Here are the links:

Best Albums of All Time – Ranked
Best Albums of All Time – Chronological
Best Albums of All Time – By Artist

Please forgive me for failing to update the number of lists the album is on in the Chronological and By Artist lists (provided in parentheticals). I’ll get to this eventually.

There are 27 new artists on the updated meta-lists:

1. Adele
2. Animal Collective
3. Anita Baker
4. Mary J. Blige
5. Boogie Down Productions
6. Cocteau Twins
7. Ornette Coleman
8. Earth, Wind & Fire
9. Elbow
10. Herbie Hancock
11. Howlin’ Wolf
12. Ice Cube
13. Janet Jackson
14. Kendrick Lamar
15. Cyndi Lauper
16. LL Cool J
17. Lynryd Skynyrd
18. George Michael
19. Charles Mingus
20. Motörhead 
21. Neutral Milk Hotel
22. Frank Ocean
23. Raekwon
24. Toots & the Maytals
25. Gillian Welch
26. Hank Williams
27. X-Ray Spex

The artists with the most albums on the meta-list are familiar names:

1. Bob Dylan: 11 albums
2. The Beatles: 10 albums
3. The Rolling Stones: 8 albums
4. Led Zeppelin: 7 albums
5. Bruce Springsteen: 6 albums
6. Neil Young: 6 albums
7. David Bowie: 5 albums
8. Jimi Hendrix: 5 albums
9. R.E.M.: 5 albums
10. U2: 5 albums
11. The Who: 5 albums

The Best of 2020: Films, TV, Music & Books

I’ve published the year-end meta lists for movies, TV, books and music. Here are the links:

Best Films of 2020
Best TV Shows of 2020
Best Music of 2020
Best Books of 2020

If you’re interested in my personal favorites from the year, I’ve set them out below. As you can see, I don’t normally focus on the most recent releases, but tend to watch, read, and listen to items from various time periods.

Favorite films watched in 2020:

Rated 10/10
The Life of Oharu (Japan, 1954) Dir: Kenji Mizoguchi
Cleo from 5 to 7 (France, 1962) Dir: Agnes Varda
Night of the Living Dead (US, 1968) Dir: George Romero
Songs from the Second Floor (Sweden, 2000) Dir: Roy Andersson
I’m Thinking of Ending Things (US, 2020) Dir: Charlie Kaufman

Rated 9/10
Au hasard Balthazar (France, 1966) Dir: Robert Bresson
Z (France, 1969) Dir: Costa-Gavras
W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism (Yugoslavia, 1971) Dir: Dusan Makavejev
The Passenger (Italy/France, 1975) Dir: Michelangelo Antonioni
Stalker (USSR, 1979) Dir: Andrei Tarkovsky
Paris, Texas (Germany/US, 1984) Dir: Wim Wenders
Come and See (USSR, 1985) Dir: Elem Klimov
Uncut Gems (US, 2019) Dir: Joshua & Ben Safdie
American Factory (US, 2019) Dir: Julia Reichert & Steven Bognar

Favorite books read in 2020:

The Faerie Queen (UK, 1590, 1596). By Edmund Spenser
King Lear (UK, 1605). By William Shakespeare
Tartuffe (France, 1664). By Moliere
Paradise Lost (UK, 1667). By John Milton
Two Treatises of Government and A Letter Concerning Toleration (UK, 1669). By John Locke
The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches (Japan, 1702). By Matsuo Basho
The Genius of the Later English Theater (UK, 1962). Edited by Sylvan Barnet
A Thousand Acres (US, 1991). By Jane Smiley.
Time’s Arrow (UK, 1991). By Martin Amis
Jazz (US, 1992). By Toni Morrison
Operation Shylock (US, 1993). By Philip Roth

Favorite TV shows watched in 2020:

The Queen’s Gambit
Call My Agent

Albums listened to most frequently in 2020

Father John Misty Pure Comedy (2017)
Bob DylanNo Direction Home: Bootleg Series Vol. 7
WaxahatcheeOut in the Storm (2017)
Charlie Musselwhite Sanctuary (2004)
Blind Lemon Jefferson Blind Lemon Jefferson (1925-1929)
David Bowie The Singles 1969-1993
PJ HarveyLet England Shake (2011)
St. Vincent Masseduction (2017)
Big Thief U.F.O.F. (2019)
KhruangbinCon Todo El Mundo (2018)
Steely DanCan’t Buy A Thrill (1972)
T-Bone WalkerThe Complete Imperial Recordings (1950-1954)
The New PornographersTwin Cinema (2005)
Brittany Howard Jaime (2019)
John Dowland Farewell, Unkind – Songs and Dances (2007) (Joel Cohen & Boston Camerata)
Count BasieComplete Decca Recordings (1937-1939)

The Best of the 2010s: A Decade in Review

As 2019 comes to a close, various publications and critics have put out their Best of the Decade lists in film, music and literature. As is my wont, I have collected these lists and compiled them into meta-lists for your convenience. Here are the links to the meta-lists for best movies, best books and best music (albums and songs) of the 2010s:

Best Films of the 2010s
Best Books of the 2010s
Best Music of the 2010s – Albums
Best Songs of the 2010s

Too busy to click on the links? Need some information right away? Here are some sneak peeks at the top items on the lists:

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Moonlight (2016)
Get Out (2017)
The Social Network (2010)
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
Lady Bird (2017)
Under the Skin (2013)
Inception (2010)
Boyhood (2014)
Parasite (2019)

THE NEAPOLITAN NOVELS (2011-2014). By Elena Ferrante. Translated by Ann Goldstein  
AMERICANAH (2013). By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
THE GOLDFINCH (2013). By Donna Tartt 
THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD (2016). By Colson Whitehead
 (2010). By Jennifer Egan 
STATION ELEVEN (2014). By Emily St. John Mandel   
THE SYMPATHIZER (2015). By Viet Thanh Nguyen 
HOMEGOING (2016). By Yaa Gyasi

BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME (2015). By Ta Nehisi Coates
JUST KIDS (2010). By Patti Smith 
THE ARGONAUTS (2015). By Maggie Nelson 
THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES: A Biography of Cancer (2010). By Siddhartha Mukherjee 
THE WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration (2010). By Isabel Wilkerson
WILD: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (2012). By Cheryl Strayed 
BAD FEMINIST: Essays (2014). By Roxane Gay 
H IS FOR HAWK (2015). By Helen MacDonald    

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly (2015)
 – Lemonade (2016)
Solange – A Seat at the Table (2016)
Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
 – Body Talk (2010)
Frank Ocean – Channel Orange (2012)
David Bowie – Blackstar (2016)
Rihanna – ANTI (2016)
Arcade Fire
 – The Suburbs (2010)
Frank Ocean – Blonde (2016)
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN. (2017)
Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour (2018)

Dancing on My Own – Robyn (2010)
Royals – Lorde (2012)
Formation – Beyoncé (2016)
Hotline Bling – Drake (2015)
Alright – Kendrick Lamar (2015)
Runaway – Kanye West (ft. Pusha T) (2010)
We Found Love – Rihanna (ft. Calvin Harris) (2011)
Rolling in the Deep – Adele (2011)
Video Games – Lana Del Rey (2011)
Everything Is Embarrassing – Sky Ferreira (2012)
Oblivion – Grimes (2012)
Old Town Road (Billy Ray Cyrus remix) – Lil Nas X (2019)

The Best of 2019: Books, Music, Movies & TV

Every year in December, various publications and websites announce their best of the year lists in various categories, and every December I collect those lists and combine them into meta-lists.  Usually I make lists of best books, movies and music (albums), but this year I added TV shows, in acknowledgement that we are in a period of unprecedented quality in television.  Here are the meta-lists for 2019:

Best Films of 2019
Best Books of 2019
Best Music of 2019
Best TV Shows of 2019

Story of My Life: Introducing the Best Memoirs Lists

The New York Times has just published a list of the best 50 memoirs of the past 50 years, and this inspired me to make a meta-list of the best memoirs and autobiographies of all time.  I started with the Times list, then I found about a dozen additional lists of best memoirs/autobiographies on the Internet.  I combined all the lists into a single meta-list.  You can look at the list in rank order (that is, with the books on the most lists at the top) or chronological order.

Here are the lists:
Best Memoirs and Autobiographies of All Time – Ranked
Best Memoirs and Autobiographies of All Time – Chronological

What’s the difference between an autobiography and a memoir?  Here’s how I understand it: an autobiography usually tells the story of a significant portion of the author’s life.  A memoir can tell the story of one incident, a series of events, or a period in a person’s life.  These categories overlap quite a bit.  I think every autobiography is a memoir, but not every memoir is an autobiography.

As you can see from the meta-list, many of the memoirs are quite recent and there are very few from before the 20th Century.  I was particularly disappointed to see that Augustine’s Confessions (c. 400 CE) and Rousseau’s Confessions (1782, 1789) didn’t make the list.  I would also have loved to have seen more books from non-English speaking countries.  (There are a few, but they are mostly older: Karen Blixen’s Out of Africa, and Elie Weisel’s Night, for example.)

Cheer Up – The Blues Lists Are Here!

I’ve updated my lists of best blues albums – adding a number of new lists, revising the formatting and creating two separate lists: one organized by rank (that is, with the albums on the most lists at the top) and one in chronological order.

Here are the updated lists:
Best Blues Albums of All Time – Ranked
Best Blues Albums of All Time – Chronological

The challenge of making a list of best blues albums is that so many of the albums are compilations and so many of the compilations have duplicate material.  As an example, take Sonny Boy Williamson (II), who has five albums on the list:
1. King Biscuit Time (rec. 1951-1965) (on 3 lists)
2. Down and Out Blues (rec. 1955-1958) (on 3 lists)
3. His Best (Chess, rec. 1955-1964) (on 3 lists)
4. The Essential Sonny Boy Williamson (rec. 1955-1963) (on 2 lists)
5. The Real Folk Blues/More Real Folk Blues (rec. 1957, 1960-1964) (on 3 lists)
I don’t know exactly, but my guess is that there are at least some of his tracks that are on all five albums, and probably a lot more that are on three or four.  The same problem is true for so many other blues artists.  To complicate matters, not all these compilations are of the same quality.  This creates a problem for the lister, and for the person trying to use the list to make choices about what .  My recommendation is that if you are looking for a first album to buy from a blue artist, start with my list, but in trying to decide among the compilations here take the next step of googling “what is the best compilation for [Artist’s Name]” and see what advice you get.

Sound Advice: The Updated Albums Lists

I’ve revised and updated my best albums meta-lists.  This is the combined wisdom of over 34 different listers – most of the lists were created by music critics, music magazines, newspapers and radio stations. The meta-lists I’ve created include every album on at least three of the original source lists.  Here they are:

Best Albums of All Time – Ranked
Best Albums of All Time – Chronological
Best Albums of All Time- By Artist

While updating the list, I decided to create some lists about the meta-lists:

Most Prolific: Artists with the Most Albums on the Meta-List
1. Bob Dylan (10 albums)
2. The Beatles (9 albums)
3. The Rolling Stones (8 albums)
4. Led Zeppelin (7 albums)
5. Neil Young (6 albums)
6. David Bowie (6 albums)
7. The Who (5 albums)
8. Jimi Hendrix (5 albums)
9. Bruce Springsteen (5 albums)
10. U2 (5 albums)
11. R.E.M. (5 albums)

 One and Done: Highest Ranked Albums by Artists with Only One Album on the Meta-List
Love – Forever Changes (1967)
Carole King – Tapestry (1971)
Patti Smith – Horses (1975)
Fleetwood Mac – Rumours (1977)
Television – Marquee Moon (1977)
Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols (1977)
Paul Simon – Graceland (1986)
Guns n’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction (1987)
The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses (1989)
Pearl Jam – Ten (1991)
Jeff Buckley – Grace (1994)

Just didn’t make it: Albums on two lists by artists with no albums on at least three lists
Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers – Moanin’ (1959)
Bobby “Blue” Bland – Two Steps from the Blues (rec. 1956-1960, rel. 1961)
Essra Mohawk – Primordial Lovers (1970)
Mott the Hoople – All the Young Dudes (1972)
Bob Seger – Night Moves (1976)
Young Marble Giants – Colossal Youth (1980)
Genesis – Abacab (1981)
Huey Lewis & the News – Sports (1983)
L.L. Cool J – Radio (1985)
Pet Shop Boys – Discography (rec. 1985-1991, rel. 1991)
INXS – Kick (1987)
Don Henley – The End of the Innocence (1989)
Bikini Kill – Revolution Girl Style Now! (1991)
The Black Crowes – The Southern Harmony & Musical Companion (1992)
Jane Siberry – When I Was a Boy (1993)
Tool – Undertow (1993)
Dave Matthew Band – Under the Table and Dreaming (1994)
Mary J. Blige – My Life (1994)
No Doubt – Tragic Kingdom (1995)
Paul Weller – Stanley Road (1995)
Tool – Aenima (1996)
Super Furry Animals – Radiator (1997)
Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane over the Sea (1998)
Queens of the Stone Age – Rated R (2000)
Andrew W.K. – I Get Wet (2001)
Blink-182 – Blink-182 (2003)
Adele – 21 (2011)

Think About It: The Greatest Philosophers Lists

As an introduction to my two new meta-lists of The Greatest Philosophers of All Time, I have one story and one list.

THE STORY: Almost 40 years ago, in my senior year of high school and the summer following, I had the same conversation over and over with multiple adults – mostly my relatives and my parents’ friends. It went something like this:

“Where are you going to college?”
“Oberlin.” If they recognized the name, they’d say something.  Some thought it was exclusively a music school, and I’d have to disabuse them of that idea. “It’s a small liberal arts school, about 30 miles from Cleveland – about 3,000 students. Only 500 of them are in the music conservatory.”‘
“What are you going to study?”
This is where I would get the skeptical looks, and inevitably, the question, “What are you going to DO with that?”
“I’m going to rent office space in a Manhattan skyscraper and hang a shingle on my door that says, ‘John M. Becker, Philosopher’.  And if someone needs me to do any thinking for them, I’ll charge by the hour.”
Just before I went off to college, a couple that were friends with my parents, the Frazzas, came to the house to visit.  They had a package for me.  We all sat in the kitchen while I opened it.  This is what was inside:
philosopher plaque

THE LIST:  Here is a list of some of the things I learned from majoring in philosophy:

(1) If you get to pick your premises, you can prove pretty much anything.
(2) It is much easier to find flaws in someone else’s theory than to come up with your own.
(3) Free will may be an illusion, but we have to act as if we have it.
(4) Inductive reasoning is an illusion, but somehow it still works.
(5) We don’t really know anything.
(6) Although the materialist view that only physical matter and energy exist is appealing, no philosopher has yet come up with an airtight materialist explanation for human consciousness.

Here, then, are the two new lists:

The Greatest Philosophers of All Time – Ranked
The Greatest Philosophers of All Time – Chronological

The first list is for folks who want to know which philosophers are considered the greatest of the great.  The second list is for folks who want to follow the history of philosophy from ancient times to the present.

New and Updated Meta-Lists: Guitarists and Scientists

I recently added two new meta-lists to the Make Lists, Not War website:

Best Guitarists of All Time – Ranked
Best Guitarists of All Time – Chronological

(Spoiler Alert: I did not make it onto the list! But if you want to hear me play and sing, check out this website.)

I also updated the Greatest Scientists of All Time – Ranked meta-list and added a new meta-list: Greatest Scientists of All Time – Chronological.

Feel free to check them out!