Category: Music

February 23rd, 2020
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Playlist of the week: 23rd February 2020

The playlist-with-a-theme guessing game!

Back to more standard fare this week, i.e. you don’t need access to my calendar to guess the theme.

Last week’s playlist theme was: Sascha is gone. Yes, after our beloved black-and-white friend left, I was feeling a bit blue at first, so some classic break-up songs helped.

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February 16th, 2020
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Playlist of the week: 16th February 2020

The playlist-with-a-theme guessing game!

If you guessed last week’s correctly, this one will be a piece of cake.

Last week’s playlist theme was: Sascha. Over the past week we’ve been looking after our friends’ dog, Sascha, who:

    * Is a border collie, therefore black and white
    * Loves to play frisbee
    * Didn’t let us sleep much on her last sleepover

See if you can guess this week’s theme, then.

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February 2nd, 2020
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Playlist of the week: 2nd February 2020

The playlist-with-a-theme guessing game!

I didn’t plan this theme, it just sort of came to me.

Last week’s playlist theme was: self-pleasure. Yep, great pop songs all about a bit of alone time. Any excuse to use Carly Rae Jepsen and Hailee Steinfeld in a playlist!

More next week.

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January 26th, 2020
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Playlist of the week: 26th January 2020

The playlist-with-a-theme guessing game!

This is an easy one.

Last week’s playlist theme was: sandwich. It was a BLT! Bread, lettuce (Let Us Love), Mayo, Raphael Saadiq featuring Rob Bacon, tomato, and then more Bread.

More next week.

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January 19th, 2020
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Playlist of the week: 19th January 2020

The playlist-with-a-theme guessing game!

The idea is simple: there’s a theme running through this playlist. There could be clues in the lyrics, song titles, artists, albums, or some other kind of trivia: one playlist in the past was, “Songs covered by Lake Street Dive” (I’ll try to do less obscure ones in future!).

Answer for “Playlist of the week: 12th January 2020”: this was an unusually topical one! It was all about Harry and Meghan announcing they’ll step back from their royal engagements. Rejected songs included We Don’t Talk Any More by Sir Cliff Richard.

And now onto this week’s list!

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January 12th, 2020
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Playlist of the week: 12th January 2020

The playlist-with-a-theme guessing game!

The idea is simple: there’s a theme running through this playlist. There could be clues in the lyrics, song titles, artists, albums, or some other kind of trivia: one playlist in the past was, “Songs covered by Lake Street Dive” (I’ll try to do less obscure ones in future!).

See if you can guess what this week’s songs are about.

The answer will come with the next playlist.

January 5th, 2020
Blog Entry

Best of 2019 playlist

I’ve created one of these “best of the year” playlists almost every year since 2014 (something seems to have gone wrong with 2015’s playlist, which is just two rather mismatched songs — Transient by Synkro and Our Own House by Misterwives). Sometimes it’s been part of our New Year’s Eve programme, others it accompanies us on our travels. This year we listened to it while playing Codenames at home.

Best of 2019 playlist

Pharoah – Rosie Lowe, from the album Yu

Groovy is such an outdated word, but it fits this album and track especially. Dripping cool, name-dropping Egyptian gods, great dynamics: it’s not what I expected from someone from Devon, that’s for sure.

Come Home – Anderson .Paak feat. André 3000, from the album Ventura

I failed to finish this album many times last year, a shame given this assured opener which features a bizarre but sometimes brilliant guest spot from desperately romantic animal activist, André 3000.

Something More – Amber-Simone, from the EP For Those Moments

This or Strawberry Kisses, this or Strawberry Kisses… tough call. Good little EP this.

Remind Me – Emily King, from the album Scenery

Hey, this was on the playlist last year!
Yes it was: it was a single in 2018, and on the album in 2019, and deserved its place both times.

Gimme – BANKS, from the album III

I haven’t listened to III much at all, but often enough for this to catch my ear. Midnight city synths beneath a booty-call (“I let you lick it from the ground, ground/’Cause I’ve been drippin’ for your love, love”, and, because it’s a BANKS song, hooks everywhere.

Melt – JONES, from the album New Skin

Well, this one launched in 2016, but I discovered it in 2019 so it counts. It was hard to pick a single song from the album, as it’s all very much a muchness, but this was a standout.

Impossibly – Paige Bea, from the EP Burnout

The Impossibly music video features Paige’s parents and wedding videos. It’s cute. Bonus fun fact: In a September 2019 interview with Lock Mag, Paige named her biggest current musical inspiration as Rosie Lowe (from the beginning of this playlist!)

With You – Eryn Allen Kane, from the album a tree planted by water

I would have liked to have chosen one of the songs with a spoken word intro by Aja Monet, but felt this fit better. Great horns in the chorus.

After the Lord Mayor’s Show – The Divine Comedy, from the album Office Politics

Neil Hannon’s best album in about ten years: I completely skipped Foreverland, Bang Goes the Knighthood was inconsistent so 2006’s Victory… wins out. This song isn’t reflective of the album’s overall cheeky, eccentric tone (one song repeats “Philip and Steve’s furniture removal company” for about five minutes), but the piano Divine Comedy songs are often my favourites.

Single Player Mode – Litany, from the EP Single Player Mode

Beth, I’m really sorry. I honestly meant to listen to this a lot in 2019, but I forgot it came out, honestly. I’ve listened to it a lot over the last few days. I can hear the pain in this one, and the candour is gripping. Best vocal of the year.

Now That I Found You – Carly Rae Jepsen, from the album Dedicated

Ah, 2019; the year I discovered how amazing CRJ is. Overall Dedicated is a little below Emotion, but here’s a banger, with by far the most fun chorus of 2019.

Now That You Need Me – Taylor McFerrin, from the album Love’s Last Chance

The falling keys in the pre-chorus get me every time. And for a bit of ‘fun’ history: track one on my first “best of the year” playlist was Postpartum, the opening track from Taylor’s debut album, Early Riser.

Back in my Body – Maggie Rogers, from the album Heard It In A Past Life

I could have had a couple of Maggie tracks on this list, but this one – about presence, fear, alienation – always reached me.

Closing thoughts
It’s interesting to me that in past years, there’s been a single song that I’ve clung to, usually twisting the lyrics to represent whatever’s happening in my life. In 2018 it was I Can Change by Lake Street Dive, and later on, Rainbow by Kacey Musgraves. But in 2019, I evaded that behaviour, despite it not being a great year overall.

Music, I love you.

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January 8th, 2019
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Best of 2018 playlist

2018 was not a banner year for me. But musically it had everything: bangers, sadbangers, and the return of Craig David.

Best of 2018 playlist

Magic – Craig David, from the album The Time is Now
Love the slight chiptune groove to the intro, the chorus is catchy as anything, but it’s the bridge that elevates it into genius:

M for the way you make me feel
A ‘cos you always keep it real
G for the girl that got me good
I C the world the way I should

God bless him for sticking with it when it got tricky at “IC”.

Missing U – Robyn, from the album Honey
Oh Robyn, you magnificent articulate disco elk. Your absence hurt, but now you’re back and this is what we wanted. Production, performance, arrangement, all on point. And it’s fun! But sad. It’s possible to be both.

Atletico (The Only One) – Rae Morris, from the album Someone Out There
Sad songs about regretfully watching other people dance are my very specific niche (Dancing On My Own by Robyn is my most listened-to song ever, remember) and here’s another cracker. Rhythmically wavy, a biscuit tin full of mini-melodies, bittersweet; really good.

I Like That – Janelle Monáe, from the album Dirty Computer
Not the most common favourite from this superb album, but one of Monáe’s best vocals, and the most luscious “ooohs” of the year (previous winners include You Go Down Smooth by Lake Street Dive in 2014).

Remind Me – Emily King, from the album Scenery (out 1st February 2019)
I forgot to add this to the list last year, which is quite an oversight considering I really like Emily King. When the beat comes in around 3:23 it’s great. I’m really excited about her new album and wish I could go see her in concert, but Berlin is too far. Sorry, Emily!

Still Cold – Cleo Sol, from the EP Winter Songs
Here we move away from the up beats and towards the down beats. If this playlist was a year, we’d be in late May, early June now, so it’s hardly lyrically apt but it is a real beauty: delicately orchestrated, sensitively performed,

I Can Change – Lake Street Dive, from the album Free Yourself Up
Down down down, but light still falls down here. Lyrically malleable enough to apply to probably any hardship you’ve had (“Escaping an old battle that clings on like a vine to me, and whispers dirty lies in my ear”). Important to hear at the end – or beginning – of any year.

Rainbow – Kasey Musgraves, from the album Golden Hour
Here’s an album that did not deliver on the hype for me, but you know what? After listening to it a few more times, I started to see the appeal. Here’s another addition to my long-running mental catalogue of “girl with piano” tracks (joining Sara Bareilles, A Fine Frenzy, et al). Recommended way to listen: on a slow train on 2nd January, as the clouds part, feeling you’re leaving a city and a whole year behind.

Roll Back – George FitzGerald, from the album All That Must Be
Filler, this, but good filler. Forms a bit of a bridge to…

PS2 – Litany, from the 4 Track EP
Bit of an abrupt transition between George and Litany, because on the EP this has its own intro track with the artists saying nice things about each other (“I would have crumbled without her”), but we haven’t time for retaining integral emotional presentation here. A purposeful beat, simple evocative childhood memory (“Remember when we met after school, and all my friends were making fun of you?”) and, second-best of all, it’s named after a night spent playing on a PlayStation 2. (Best of all is that Litany are from Harrogate in Yorkshire).

Honey – Robyn, from the album Honey
High on pretty much everyone’s end of year list, I would hope, so should need no justification. All I’ll say is, like all the best songs, getting to know this song felt like falling in love.

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December 24th, 2018
Blog Entry

Songs of the year – 2018

Every year I create a “Best of the year” playlist on Spotify, which usually starts on 30th December with me looking back at my 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, 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 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
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 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)

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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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