Date archives for December, 2018

December 24th, 2018
Blog Entry

Songs of the year

Every year I create a “Best of the year” playlist on Spotify, which usually starts on 30th December with me looking back at my Last.fm scrobbles and trying to remember what I liked in the year. This year I decided to get a bit nerdy with it.

I love a good spreadsheet, and a good statistic, despite the fact that numbers hate me (ask anyone at work: if ever I make a mistake, it always involves numbers!) So rather than just put together an emotive list of what I liked, I wanted to reduce a year of music into stats. For instance: My top 50 most listened-to songs in 2018 accounted for almost 30% of my total listening my scrobbles, but only 12% by duration (I surmise that I listened to the same songs a lot, but they’re not as long as some songs I listened to more rarely.)

All this data is pulled from Last.fm, which is linked to my Spotify account, which my wife and I share. But only a few of the tracks that made it into the top 100 are hers, not mine: this is because I listen to music a lot more.

The top 10

Only two artists made it into the top 10: Lake Street Dive, one of my discoveries of 2014, and this year’s biggest find for me, Rae Morris. Her album Someone Out There came out in February and stuck with me all year, racking up 341 scrobbles, a third more than Lake Street Dive’s latest Free Yourself Up, which launched in April.

The full top 100

Here’s the full table. I pulled data from Last.fm and Spotify, and added a few comments where things occurred to me.

It’s been an interesting year.

  Song nameArtistAlbumScrobblesNotes
1Wait for the RainRae MorrisSomeone Out There42When the drums kick in at 1:19; nice middle-eight ("I don't want no ice, I'm already cold enough now"; the synth outro - textbook pop, and very pleasing too.
2Push Me to My LimitRae MorrisSomeone Out There40First track on the album I started more than any other, in a year that certainly pushed me to my limits.
3Atletico (The Only One)Rae MorrisSomeone Out There36Like track one, this is total pop with more sad disco ("From the back of the room you were holding my glance, I was trying to be cool, but I can't really dance")
4Do ItRae MorrisSomeone Out There32Slightly above 10% drop-off rate from track three to four. The clever bit is punning "do it" with "duet".
5RebornRae MorrisSomeone Out There3220% drop-off from track 1 to two - obviously not my favourite.
6You Are FreeLake Street DiveFree Yourself Up32New challenger! Track 8 on this album. Glorious harmonies on the chorus and outro.
7I Can ChangeLake Street DiveFree Yourself Up30A song for tough times. Happy to say I've listened to it less in the last few weeks.
8Shame, Shame, ShameLake Street DiveFree Yourself Up30More great harmonies: "Change is coming, oh yeah"
9Lower the ToneRae MorrisSomeone Out There29And back to Rae. Extra points for "idly chit-chatting away" as a lyric.
10Physical FormRae MorrisSomeone Out There28By the way - and this is going a bit TOTP2 now - Someone Out There is her second album, after 2014's "Unguarded".
11Rose GardenRae MorrisSomeone Out There28That one didn't grab me though: none of its songs appear in the top 100.
12The Inconsistency PrincipleAbove & BeyondCommon Ground28Change of pace: Above & Beyond are a British trance act - not a genre I like, but ideal distraction music for working.
13Moving OnAnna of the NorthLovers27Starting to get more varied now, isn't it? Anna of the North was on The Guardian's playlist of overlooked artists from 2017. A pleasing find.
14My Own HymnAbove & BeyondCommon Ground27In 2016, Above & Beyond took 70% of my most listened-to songs of the year. Happy to see that's changed.
15Good KisserLake Street DiveFree Yourself Up26A chorus built to belt out. Video is a little disappointing.
16Northern SoulAbove & BeyondCommon Ground26Even though I've scrobbled them so often, I can't remember what any of these Above & Beyond songs sound like.
17Baby Don't Leave Me Alone With My ThoughtsLake Street DiveFree Yourself Up25Despite making up a good proportion of my top 100, the album was a little disappointing.
18Dancing with CharacterRae MorrisSomeone Out There25From an album opener to an album closer. Pretty song, good rhythm, and a video filmed at Blackpool Tower with the singer's nana. 10/10.
19Dip My ToeRae MorrisSomeone Out There25One of the three songs from this album I "Loved" on Last.fm.
20Drown the LoversR I T U A LNo Escape Out of Time25Wild card! Mellow and macabre: just what you need at this time of year.
21Musta Been SomethingLake Street DiveFree Yourself Up25"You said I didn't do anything wrong, but there must have been something I could have done better". I felt that this year.
22Someone Out ThereRae MorrisSomeone Out There25Not the best: bit of a maudlin by-the-numbers piano ballad (and that's from someone whose main genre over the past few years have been "woman with piano pop")
23Finders KeepersMabelIvy to Roses (Mixtape)24Where's Roses? Where is Roses in this top 100? This is good, but Roses is awesome. I'm disappointed.
24Hang OnLake Street DiveFree Yourself Up24I'm going to see Lake Street Dive in April. I saw them once before and they were good.
25HoneyRobynHoney24Robyn's back! This song is amazing. I'm going to see her live next year too.
26Lost ColonySaori KobayashiCrimson Dragon OST24I'm surprised I listened to this - a track from a game I haven't played - more than any other game music track.
27NakedAbove & BeyondCommon Ground24OK I won't make comments on all 100 songs, just the interesting ones.
28No LoveLyvesLike Water24I listened to a lot of Synkro a few years ago, and found Lyves via that route. Also good working music.
29Darkest HourLyvesLike Water23
30DudeLake Street DiveFree Yourself Up23
31Doesn't Even Matter NowLake Street DiveFree Yourself Up22
32SomeoneAnna of the NorthLovers22
33Bang BangJessie JBang Bang21It feels like I've heard this song every single day for this year: it's on a lot of playlists and Daily Mixes. New Year's Resolution: don't listen to it again.
34HistoryKina GrannisIn the Waiting21Kina! Hi Kina. This is a nice album of soothing songs with acoustic guitars, and takes me back to my A Fine Frenzy period.
35Love MyselfHailee SteinfeldLove Myself21Absolute banger, genuine contender for best pop song of the decade, guaranteed to get me dancing every time.
36Red Light KissesLake Street DiveFree Yourself Up21
37The WeatherLyvesLike Water21
38Dancing on My OwnRobynBody Talk, pt 120Absolute banger, actual best pop song of the decade, guaranteed to get me dancing every time.
39LoversAnna of the NorthLovers20
40Come OverMabelIvy to Roses (Mixtape)19
41Is It Love? (1001)Above & BeyondCommon Ground19
42Jessie's GirlRick SpringfieldJessie's Girl19Hannah loves this song - it's on one of my cheesy pop party playlists. "I'm looking in the mirror all the time, wondering what she don't see in me". Poor Rick.
43Missing URobynHoney19Opening track to the album, and sounded exactly right for Robyn's return. But then the title track wins the crown for best song of the year (probably)
44Sahara LoveAbove & BeyondCommon Ground19
45When Will I LearnKina GrannisIn the Waiting19
46BurnsGeorge FitzgeraldAll That Must Be18More good working music. "Roll Back" (further down) is much better; so is the track with Tracy Thorn.
47Ecce valde generous ale (Mark! The Precious Wings)Saori KobayashiResurrection: Panzer Dragoon Saga18I was on a real Panzer Dragoon kick at the start of the year, even basically buying an Xbox One to play Panzer Dragoon Orta (which I played twice and haven't gone back to)
48FreeLyvesLike Water18
49FriedaGeorge FitzgeraldAll That Must Be18Surprising that "Roll Back" didn't make it as it's the best song on the album (in at 53, just above track 1 from this album, weirdly)
50Happiness AmplifiedAbove & BeyondCommon Ground18
51In the WaitingKina GrannisIn the Waiting18
52PS2Litany4 Track EP18Litany were a great find this year, and this song mentions "we stayed up all night playing on the PS2", so is automatically better.
53Roll BackGeorge FitzgeraldAll That Must Be18
54Two Moons UnderGeorge FitzgeraldAll That Must Be18
55BedroomLitany4 Track EP17
56BrainBANKSGoddess17A throwback to 2016, when I remember listening to this a lot in San Francisco just before Christmas. Those were different times.
57DracoSaori KobayashiCrimson Dragon OST17
58Noble Rebel ArmySaori KobayashiResurrection: Panzer Dragoon Saga17
59Off CenterEmily KingThe Switch17This song's been a constant in my life over the last few years. This year's focus was the intro: "Little flower of summer, once your seasons pass, do you ever wonder, why your petals fall so fast?"
60OutgrownGeorge FitzgeraldAll That Must Be17
61Siren CallsGeorge FitzgeraldAll That Must Be17
62SunriseSaori KobayashiCrimson Dragon OST17
63Tough LoveJessie WareTough Love17
64Why Don't YouCleo SolWinter Songs17EP dropped in 2018 but the song is 2017
65AlwaysAnna of the NorthLovers16
66Children's FestivalSaori KobayashiTerra Magica16
67Cold FeetAbove & BeyondCommon Ground16
68Ex-FactorLauryn HillThe Miseducation of Lauryn Hill16One of the greatest songs ever. What a sound.
69LabasaChad ValleyEntirely New Blue16
70MoneyAnna of the NorthLovers16
71PostpartumTaylor McFerrinEarly Riser16I had this on one of my "best of the year" playlists that I go back to every now and again.
72Because It's in the MusicRobynHoney16
73Baby Forgive MeRobynHoney16
74Human BeingRobynHoney16
75A Premonition of BattleSaori KobayashiResurrection: Panzer Dragoon Saga15
76Alright NowAbove & BeyondCommon Ground15
77Crazy, Classic, LifeJanelle MonáeDirty Computer15I'm really surprised Janelle Monáe isn't higher up - I felt like I was listening to this album all summer. And this isn't even my favourite song! What an injustice.
78Don't Kill My VibeSigridDon't Kill My Vibe - EP15
79FeelsAnna of the NorthLovers15
80Nobody But YouGeorge FitzgeraldAll That Must Be15
81SkyborneSaori KobayashiCrimson Dragon OST15
82The LichfieldJeremy GarrenCrimson Dragon OST15
83TightropeAbove & BeyondCommon Ground15
84V. 3005Childish Gambinobecause the internet15From another playlist, but always a good one to listen to. I don't know the rest of the album at all.
85Send to Robyn ImmediatelyRobynHoney15
86BabyAnna of the NorthLovers14
87BirdsongKina GrannisIn the Waiting14
88CriminalMiguelWar & Leisure14I actually got into War & Leisure this year after telling myself it wasn't as good as Wildheart. It's not, but it is damn good.
89DawnSaori KobayashiTerra Magica14
90Godawful ThingsLake Street DiveSide Pony14The first track on Lake Street Dive's predecessor to Free Yourself Up. Probably snuck in as I was comparing the two albums.
91Green LightLordeMelodrama14
92Half-Light - Night VersionGeorge FitzgeraldAll That Must Be14
93ILitany4 Track EP14Opening track, mostly talking, not really a song.
94Let's Go CrazyPrincePurple Rain14One of the best songs of all time, opening one of the greatest albums, and a real pleasure. Would be higher if Last.fm could track how many times I listened to the record.
95Make Me Feel Janelle MonáeDirty Computer14Hannah's favourite song off the album, because it's so much like the guy above this.
96MotherSaori KobayashiTerra Magica14
97Mutant Species 1Saori KobayashiResurrection: Panzer Dragoon Saga14
98Not That ManChad ValleyEntirely New Blue14
99Real FeelsR I T U A LNo Escape Out of Time14
100Rock BottomHailee SteinfeldHAIZ14How apt! A song called Rock Bottom at the bottom of my top 100! You couldn't make it up (and, for the record, I didn't)

Read more of my posts about music


January 14th, 2018
Blog Entry

Best of 2017 playlist

For the past three years, I’ve put together a short Spotify playlist of some of my favourite tracks of the year. Looking back on those playlists, they tell their own story.

Best of 2014

Kicking off with the most varied playlist, this has everything from soul to rap to big belting ballads. It also shows I made a lot of musical discoveries in 2014; probably the last year I did.

Best of 2015
I struggled a lot with this one, a meagre two tracks on the playlist. Maybe the move to a different job had impacted it, or maybe I was more concerned with making it personal finds and not ‘obvious’ ones.

Looking back at the official charts’ top songs of 2015, maybe it was just a tough year. Standouts on a revised playlist would be Uptown Funk and Love Myself by Hailee Steinfeld (a favourite of mine in the years since).

Best of 2016
I made more of an effort this year, with 15 songs on the list, though admittedly I bent my own “must have been released this year” rule by allowing favourite tracks from previous years into the latter half of the playlist.

Best of 2017

Short (only 7 tracks) but managing to cram in everything from road trip pop to low-fi pop and even some R&B pop as well. Totally varied! And only two outdated songs, including 2015’s Off Center by Emily King, which had me falling in love again and again.


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