Monday, December 17, 2018

My Festive Fifteen

This has been my first year using a music streaming service (I’m not telling you which one as I’m not getting paid for this).  I’ve enjoyed the convenience of it and the range of tracks available, albeit with a few unfortunate oversights – whither the “Too Sussed EP”?  And where’s “Luxury Plane Crash”? – so overall it’s been a worthwhile experience.

A week or so ago, said service sent me an email with some analysis of my listening habits in.  It was fascinating, and even more so when combined with the “Top 100” playlist I was also provided with.  It also made sense – for instance, my five most listened to acts of the year were David Bowie, Half Man Half Biscuit, Suede, REM, Manic Street Preachers.  Suede had a new album out, Bowie and REM both released live albums of concerts I was at, I got a great Manics playlist from a friend, and I spent five hours on a single day listening to HMHB and desperately trying to shut out the world while I did some analysis.  So far so good.

But the Top 100 itself…  Now that is an interesting artefact.  As a DJ friend of mine found out a few years ago, these kinds of service mean you can listen to whatever you want, from whenever you want.  So whilst it’s probably no surprise, given my age, that there’s only one track from this year in the top 100 (the lead track from the new Suede album), I did find that at least the top twenty weren’t all there on merit alone; indeed, many of them had soundtracked significant moments in my life, and the freedom of access to nearly all of history’s music had drawn me back to them.  Others had led me to internal debates and conclusions that, in turn, evidenced for me why I had been listening to this collection of songs more often than anything else.

On top of that, my aforementioned top five most listened to bands had reasonably weak showings in the top 100 - with their top entries coming in at 47 (“Ashes To Ashes”), 33 (“Took Problem Chimp To The Ideal Home Show”), 75 (“Life Is Golden”), 43 (“What’s The Frequency Kenneth?”) and 51 (“Faster”) respectively - so the tracks at the sharp end were largely one-offs from acts that I didn’t listen to full albums from.

It was at this stage that I thought about writing a “Festive Fifty”, based on the first half of the list, as a wayward tribute to both John Peel and this set of songs that was my 2018.

Then I decided not to, as I’m a lazy, lazy man.

Then I wavered a bit.

Then I thought, “sod it, I’ll do the top twenty – no-one’s reading the Final Fantasy stuff anyway.” 
Then I realised that a Festive Fifteen had better alliteration and was less work.

Then I got annoyed because number sixteen was “Breaking The Law” by Judas Priest, and I’d loved to have written about that.  But it was too late by then, I was on my way.

(Also I’ve started it way, way too late so you’re getting two a day, which in retrospect I should pretend was a deliberate artistic affectation.)

And now: we’re here.  If you take this journey with me, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll learn what a sad git I am.  So if “You Do” want to read on, say “Yes” and do “The Right Thing”, which is to check back here…  Er, whenever the next one goes up.  (Probably quite soon.)

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