My bestie just returned from a trip to Oregon, where she reported unexpectedly attending a Jacob Collier concert and hearing a random someone call him the best musician ever. I beg to differ that such a label is even possible to assign to someone.
I won’t go into whether Collier’s music is good or not. I admire Collier’s technical skill, music knowledge, industriousness, and inventiveness. At the same time, I have not been drawn to listen to more of his work. So, no, for me at least, Collier is not the best musician ever.
But the whole idea that you can assign such a label is problematic to me.
¿How would you even determine such a thing? ¿What would be the criteria?
The first issue is that anyone assigning such a label in North American/Western Europe culture is likely sampling a greatly biased sample. ¿Where is the Balkan and Taiwanese rock? (Ekatarina Velika, Bijelo Dugme, Dubioza Kolectiv, Wu Bai & China Blue, Monkey Pilot) ¿The Hong Kong hiphop? (LMF, MastaMic) ¿The Czech pop? (Aneta Langerova, Jananas) ¿Indonesian Gamelan?
The second issue is scope. ¿Do we restrict this title to solo artists? ¿Live performances vs. studio? ¿What about musicians who always play with others and bring out the best in them? (Miles Davis)
¿How do you even rank them? There is so much music in this world that it’s impossible to come up with a reasonable way. ¿Awards? ¿Votes? ¿Sales? ¿Plays? All smack of privilege.
Yes, I know I am taking this random unknown person’s enthusiasm way too seriously. It’s merely an intellectual exercise. At the same time, I do hope we’ll question how we decide who gets our attention and choose diversity over a narrow view of what music should be.
Please consider checking out my mid-to-up-tempo global playlist Infectious on YouTube Music.