NPR logo Disappointment Is So Last Year

Disappointment Is So Last Year

Is it just me, or was 2008 largely free of musical disappointments? Perhaps I'm still basking in a post-election glow, and this new era of politics is making me forgive (or, more likely, forget) flaws and missteps in other realms, like music. Or maybe it really was a stellar year.

There were exciting endeavors by Crystal Stilts, Deerhunter, Fleet Foxes, Black Mountain, Mt. Eerie and Chad VanGaalen, not to mention Santogold, Sic Alps, T.I., TV on the Radio, Okkervil River, Bon Iver and Nick Cave. I could go on and on about the standouts from 2008 (and people have, over on the All Songs blog).

So what exactly constitutes a musical disappointment these days? A bad live performance? Can't we just watch a better show on the Internet the next day? And then the next? If one weak album comes out on a Tuesday, so many other records are released the same day that we can simply buy those instead. Better yet, we can just download the good songs if the entire record doesn't measure up to our standards of the band. It's like going to the dentist as a kid and getting the sugar-free lollipop on the way out — we hardly remember any of the discomfort; only the gooey, palliative sweetness.

When it comes to music, maybe we're in a time of post-disappointment. After all, we're our own DJs, with our own playlists and our own song sequences to craft. We can even remix a song, or mash it up with another one, to make it more to our liking. An artistic stumble by our favorite musician no longer equals emptiness and longing while we wait for their next album; all it means is that we'll have to tide ourselves over with the non-stop, year-round, every-day-is-Christmas extravaganza that is the music industry. Plus, the artist that disappointed us with a sub-par album one month can just upload a redemptive, kick-out-the-jams song to their MySpace page two weeks later and voila! They rule! Again! All is forgiven. The business side of music may be struggling, but as listeners, we couldn't be more spoiled.

Yet despite the wealth we've amassed as fans, were there still musical moments in 2008 that left you wanting more? Artists, albums, festivals or shows that left you feeling disappointed even when you distracted yourself with other follies? Or has an abundance of musical goodness helped you move on from or ignore the underwhelming, even when it came from your favorites?