Extensively researched, immaculately designed, and endlessly fascinating, the Pitchfork People's List genuinely aimed to take the power of criticism away from the pointy-headed critics and put it into the hands — and ears — of the people.
The idea, of course, is to document the "thinking people's music" — i.e. the music that helps intellectually define an era — that Pitchfork lists aim to tackle. The hallowed End Of Year lists are passed around from blog to blog, and when the editors at The Fork took on 2010 with "The Best Albums Of The Last 10 Years", readers were reminded what a strange musical experience the aughts were. So, ostensibly, we should be pleased with this democratic approach to the hallowed music list.
Except, this writer is not pleased. Not because it isn't beautiful (it is) or accurate (not a lot of complaints, here) or lacking thoroughness (they covered their bases), but because the entire spectrum seems rather, well, male. First and foremost, this applies to the artists represented on the list. We tallied things up, and of the top 200, only 28 were "female-fronted" bands, and that's based on a loose criteria that includes Broken Social Scene for their frequent female collaborators and The Arcade Fire/White Stripes for the husband-wife duo aspect. For the statisticians among us, that's about 14%. But even beyond that, the "representative sampling" also turns out to be skewed to men. A whopping 88% of those polled were dudes.
Of course, according to Quantcast, the majority of Pitchfork readers are men, so it might be safe to assume that, with more male readers the poll received more male additions. But even that doesn't seem quite right. Women account for 37% of the pub's readership — not the 12% represented here. That feels like a pretty significant misrepresentation to us.
However, thanks to the clever way the list is designed, it is possible for data-nerds to dissect the available info by gender. And when you take out the polling bias favoring men's responses, the results are surprisingly the same, with a couple outliers, as seen below.
A few more females appeared, like Regina Spektor, Cocorosie, and Lykke Li. So this begs a two-part question: If more females had been polled, would more female artists appear on the list? And, more importantly, is Pitchfork's audience mostly men because Pitchfork's critical darlings — the artists who ostensibly comprise "indie music" — are mostly male?
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