Spotify Wrapped has been unveiled. Anybody who has been signed up to Spotify for the last year can find out various statistics about their listening habits over the course of 2019. Try it here. However, if you have been signed up for ten years, it will also tell you your listening habits for the whole decade. A few facts and figures baffled me, so I decided to get to the bottom of how my taste in music had changed, and possibly why it had changed.
1. The gap between live and studio music has widened.
Only recently have I realised that there is a strange divide between what I listen to at home and what I listen to live. You don’t have to roam far on this website to see that I am a live music addict. Unsurprisingly, the majority of these acts are rock and metal acts. However, over the last few years, my favourite studio and live acts seem to have drifted apart, and aside from a few exceptions (this year’s No.1 band was Rammstein, who I saw in July), I listen more to acts whose tour schedules I don’t have a constant eye on. Rock has been for going mad to in person. Everything else is to have on while at home.
Given my musical fixation, and the fact that I felt like I’ve studied it from every angle during my time at college and university (I didn’t, but I was aching enough by the end that I felt like I had done), it wouldn’t come as any surprise to find that my tastes are especially diverse. That’s been the case for a very long time. Spotify says that I am “genre-fluid”, which sounds like a bizarre attempt at political correctness.
While I have always been most into rock, I diverted from it even when it was ‘uncool’ to do so at school, even though I tried to keep it quiet, so I don’t think that that’s why anything has changed. That said, this is a bit of a revelation to me. Just how conscious is my reluctance to see the acts that I am listening to at home, and why am I turning my nose up at them in the first place? Earlier I was listening to Taylor Swift’s 1989 (‘Style’ is 20th in this year’s top songs), and out of curiosity I decided to find out whether there were any tickets left for Carly Rae Jepsen’s concert in London. Alright, I kind of wanted to go, but that’s the point I’m making here. And before you check, it’s sadly sold out, but if it hadn’t would I have been too embarrassed to make that step? Or do I not want it enough? Give it a couple of years, and maybe I’ll be able to give you an answer.
2. Live music has led me to studio recordings – not the other way around.
Another key reason for that aforementioned divide comes from the fact that I have seen a lot of acts live that I didn’t have my heart set on seeing before. This has come from attending a lot of concerts that I had no desire to go to for the sake of writing, only to be pleasantly surprised and becoming a fan. This has also definitely come from going to so many music festivals, and having a close connection with Download Festival. 2019 was my tenth Download, and I definitely went especially out of my way to see bands that I hadn’t seen there before (something easier said than done on the big stages). According to Spotify, I discovered 156 new artists this year, and of those I listened to The Interrupters the most, who I first witnessed at Download. In fact, their single ‘Gave You Everything’ was my fourth most listened to song of 2019. They weren’t alone either. I knew nothing about Nova Twins, The Beaches or LOVEBITES, but they were all great.
I saw six out of ten of the ‘artists of the year’ (some of whom are a bit, dare I say, weird…) live within twelve months of their designated year – “Weird Al” Yankovic, Faith No More, Meat Loaf, Murderdolls/Wednesday 13, Andrew WK and Rammstein.
3. Nostalgia has dragged me back to 2003.
The most appropriate song ever has just come on as I type this part – Bowling For Soup’s cover of ‘1985’. It’s the tale of someone lamenting how their dreams of rocking eternally and being forever young, have fallen apart. Here I am, albeit not a housewife called Debbie.
As a 29-year-old man whimpering about his youth trickling away, it’s inevitable that a lot of my playlist dates back to the early 2000s. Amongst the top twenty songs of 2019 are The Offspring (who are actually No.1 with ‘All I Want’), Deftones (having recently rediscovered White Pony, I’ve made ‘Back to School – Mini Maggit’ wriggle to No.3), Bowling For Soup, Andrew WK, Disturbed, Linkin Park and HIM are there.
Two things have led to this. For starters was the creation of a playlist which included the full tracklists of a compilation album series called Teenage Dirtbags which was full of pop-punk songs of my youth. This was played a lot on shuffle. Then for fun, I dragged all of the content into another big playlist alongside the content of all the Now That’s What I Call Music! albums from 40-50, for the ultimate entanglement of guilty pleasure and nostalgia. I think there was a little 1980s guilty pleasure mini playlist thrown in for good measure. Whatever it was, this musical soup was about two days long.
This led to some very odd cameos from pop acts that I genuinely would never have thought to put on, but must have decided to keep on. Some I consciously decided to return to, and others I didn’t. I think I’ll keep quiet which ones fall into each category . Here are just a few.
- Baddiel, Skinner and the Lightning Seeds – Three Lions ’98
- Bananarama – Venus
- Bangles – Eternal Flame
- Belinda Carlisle – Heaven is a Place on Earth
- Cher – Believe
- Eamon – Fuck It (I Don’t Want You Back)
- Jennifer Paige – Crush
- Khia – My Neck, My Back
- LeAnn Rimes – Can’t Fight the Moonlight AND How Do I Live
- Lighthouse Family – High
- Samantha Mumba – Always Come Back to Your Love
- Sisqo – Thong Song
- Steps – The Way You Make Me Feel
My interest in pop-punk and nu-metal was revitalised in particular by my regular attendance of a local alternative club night over the last five years. Sadly, they have taken a step back from heavier music (there used to be a whole second floor open for hard rock and metal) over the last couple of years, making Portsmouth only alternative rock night a total limp lettuce by comparison. Nonetheless, that reintroduction and inevitability of a tipsy singalong at the end of the night cemented that music into my skull.
4. My favourite band of the 2000s is nowhere to be found – what happened to Muse?
I was obsessed with Muse as a teenager. Origin of Symmetry, Absolution and Black Holes and Revelations were the holy trinity within my CD collection. I posted over 12,000 times on a Muse fan forum after signing up 15 years ago, and making lots of friends there, some of whom I still speak to now. I’ve seen them live more times than I have any other band. Surely they should appear prominently amongst the nostalgia, right?
Spotify automatically compiled four playlists of the top 100 songs of each year since 2016, and there is a grand total of zero of Muse’s songs in there. I have long said that after I was so disappointed with 2009 album The Resistance, that their performance at Reading Festival 2011 (Origin of Symmetry in its entirety, the album where my obsession began in 2002), was a satisfactory, but bittersweet, closure to my fanboy era. After all, I enjoyed two of the other headliners more than I did Muse.
However, only now have I realised how literal that was. I’ve apparently disliked their recent output enough that their old tracks leave a sore taste and I skip right over them. That or I just got bored and explored new things.
5. Not a single track of my favourite ever album appears. Why?
Radiohead are apparently my artist of the decade, and this makes perfect sense. If I can write about them at college, write two dissertations on them at uni and still not be sick of them, they have definitely managed to get on my good side. Thirteen of the songs on the playlist of the last four years are by Radiohead, more than any other band (Linkin Park are in second place with eleven), and their release dates span from 1995 to 2016.
I have long felt that Kid A was my favourite Radiohead album, yet none of its tracks appear here. As much as I prefer listening to the album start-to-finish, I hadn’t realised how little I listened to the tracks individually. I expected at least ‘Idioteque’ to be there, but apparently not.
Yet ‘My Neck, My Back’ did. Damn.