lonely crowd of record reviewers

Simon Reynolds on end of the year lists. Specific ones, including his, but the general remarks grab you as well:

This year they've seemed more disparate than ever too, often barely overlapping. That's certainly the case with individual bloggers, but even the print periodical and webzine End of Year surveys, which through their expanded electorates and Big Other-shadowed institutional responsibility to "The Truth" usually point towards something approaching consensus... even they have seemed quite far apart from each other.

This jibes with recent social theory that we are becoming a lonely crowd again, not like the 1950s American population of bland, other-directed joiners but one based on everyone having specialized interests: you are the only Star Trek fan in a room full of Seinfeld fans, or vice versa. You just can't connect with these people. That room full of fans could even be your own kin. The internet is blamed but other factors contribute: globalization, shift work and part time work, serial monogamy, etc. This may also explain the rising appeal of fundamentalist religions to some: letting an authoritarian a-hole group leader do your thinking for you trumps that dreadful feeling of rootless disconnection (in the case of the Heaven's Gate cult, he might even let you watch Star Trek).

One sentence of Reynolds', concerning Chuck Eddy's end of the year list, should inspire an Atrios-like "simple answer to a simple question":

Is it really possibly to love 150 albums that came out in a single year?