The holidays are a time of family, schmaltzy Christmas commercials that somehow make you cry, and if you are involved in music journalism, list-making. Lots and lots of list-making.

Over the past few years, the availability of year-end critics lists has multiplied faster than the worry lines on Ben Bernanke's brow. By mid-December, the Net and the magazine rack at your Barnes & Noble were brimming over with a head-spinning, eye-glazing cornucopia of rankings of such de rigueur albums as The Arcade Fire's Neon Bible, The National's Boxer, Spoon's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, M.I.A.'s Kala, Radiohead's In Rainbows, LCD Soundsystem's Sound of Silver, and Battles' Mirrored.

If you want to parse the exact sequence of those records in your favorite publication or Web site, feel free to do so. We're going in a different direction.

In five cities from Minneapolis to San Francisco, we asked musicians, comedians, athletes (and in one case, a Michael Stipe-impersonating electrician) to tell us what music they loved most this year. It could be albums, songs, or the collected works of an artist, and it need not have come out this year. We just wanted to know what was moving our interviewees right now.

It just seemed more like the way we listen to music now — with everything available to everyone free, the old days of anticipating the release dates of and then treasuring new albums seem to be seriously on the wane.

2007 favorites from:

Los Angeles
San Francisco

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Sarah Askari
Contact: Sarah Askari
Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea
Michael Gallucci
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Lina Lecaro
Contact: Lina Lecaro
Jennifer Maerz
Contact: Jennifer Maerz