I used to religiously await the end of year lists from stereogum and pitchfork, eager to learn if my own musical preferences and best picks aligned with the lords of taste. This year I completely forgot about those sites (until it was time to research this writeup). Maybe I’m just getting older, and not only feel less compelled by the opinions of taste makers, but more frighteningly, the music-phile part of my aging brain has atrophied. Probably moreso – the taste detection algorithms of Spotify have grown so advanced I no longer need external lists to feed me with a steady drip of quality tunes.
The strange thing is music has become even more personal, solitary. It’s all direct from playlist on laptop to headphones. Rarely played out loud. There’s less “hey, hear this awesome band”. There’s less roadtrip playlists. There’s less sharing a killer viral tune on social media. Even the hip radio station that boast of their taste end up playing stuff you grew bored of 6 months ago.
Maybe it was this weird year. A bunch of legendary artists died this year, so every month or so we were going back and revisiting decade-spanning discographies. And the news was an incessant blare, leaving little room for artists of merit (sans political message or high concept video) to rise above the din. The conglomeration of pop music seemed to continue. The hip-hop industrial complex was even more mainstream and revered, from Beyonce to Frank ocean. Gucci Mane had a feature on NPR. Rock music, the four piece led by drums, guitar and charismatic singer, have completely died. Electronic mixing and techniques infiltrated every other genre.
And I wonder if these trends are precisely because of the change in listening habits. There are the crowned lords and ladies of the rapidly shrinking Grammy – Clear Channel elite circuit. Then there’s everyone else, eeking out tiny fractions of pennies on Spotify and youtube plays, putting out music that’s just listenable enough to get dragged into a playlist, maybe a catchy single for a car commercial to pay the bills. Not bold or passionate enough to fill arenas or change the world, just background music to the million drones in open offices, blocking out coworkers with oversized headphones.
Here’s my List:
school of seven bells
empire of the sun
Most Played Songs: