The Pitchfork 500: Our Guide to the Greatest Songs From Punk to Present | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, December 7th, 2023  

Scott Plagenhoef and Ryan Schreiber (editors)

The Pitchfork 500: Our Guide to the Greatest Songs From Punk to Present

Published by Fireside Books/Simon & Schuster

Nov 01, 2008 Year End 2008 - Best of 2008 Bookmark and Share

From its shoestring beginnings as an online zine riddled by runaway word counts and ostentatious, themed reviews, Pitchfork Media has emerged as arguably the preeminent music criticism source of its time while fashioning itself into a multimedia powerhouse, with an empire that includes a major music festival, an online TV station, and now a book, The Pitchfork 500, a hefty slab of text in the same vein of Rolling Stone’s many bathroom readers.

The book does little to reinvent the music guide formula—it merely highlights lone songs instead of the customary albums—and its early chapters are disposable. Without first hand knowledge to draw from, the Pitchfork team describes the punk era with reworded conventional wisdom, but their prose picks up detail as the chronology turns to ’80s college rock and the subsequent ’90s alt-rock boom.

By the mid-’90s, although alternative radio had lost interest in exposing independent talent, a fledgling Pitchfork filled that niche with increasing efficacy. It is, of course, the modern indie rock the website followed from infancy that The Pitchfork 500 examines with the most affection and insight, but the editors also do justice to deserving pop hits by artists like R. Kelly, Ciara, and Justin Timberlake. Crusading against the elitism their site represented in its early years, they make the case that a great song is a great song, regardless of whether it came from a No Waver, a post-rocker, a shoegazer, or, well, Madonna. (

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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