I just got a Mac Mini. I had forgotten how easy it is to use Garageband to make terrible music. Please enjoy this interpretation of a classic song from the eighties currently enjoying oversaturation thanks to a retro horror television show.
Yesterday I wrote a long boring post no one will read about music I listened to in 2020. Everyone loves spreadsheets about music! Today I realized I forgot the thing I normally add: the iTunes list of most heard songs.
Here, another spreadsheet for you!
I’ve posted it in some form every year, and every year it grows more inaccurate at showing what I actually listened to during the year. The problem is that it doesn’t just include this year; it’s every play of every song in my library since I started counting. Prince’s “Baby I’m a Star” sits at number four even though I (probably) haven’t listened to it for a year.
And right at the top is “He Will State The Obvious (Captain Obvious Theme Song)” That I originally found on the now-gone songstowearpantsto.com.
At number 13 is everyone’s favorite song, “Track06.” I can’t find it online, but it’s a station ID from Oldies 103.3, a Boston oldies station (Los Angeles, think KRTH) that went off the air 8 years ago. It’s very short, so if it pops up on shuffle it almost always plays through.
According to this list I haven’t listened to The Magnetic Fields’ “The Book of Love” since July of 2019, but that’s a damned lie. I’ve listened to it a bunch because it’s one of the songs Spotify has decided to always play for me.
Number 44 is “hulk”, a quote from the Incredible Hulk TV show.
Number 56 is Echo & The Bunnymen’s “Lips Like Sugar,” folled at number 57 by Echo & The Bunnymen’s “Lips Like Sugar.” Maybe they’re different versions; maybe they’re the same version on different albums. Who knows? If they’re the same one, then they win for most popular Luke song of all time, apparently.
The most recently played song on the list is number 93, Adam & The Ants’ single version of “Cartrouble,” last heard on December 8th. The least recently heard is number 22, the Dead Kennedys cover of “Viva Las Vegas,” which played September 19, 2017.
So, two days of music stat posts. What have we learned?
There’s a web page called How Bad Is Your Spotify? that looks at your Spotify playlists and listening habits and judges you like the record store guys in High Fidelity. You cannot win. If your tastes are too mainstream, you’re mocked for being a mindless drone. Too eclectic/obscure and you’re mocked for trying too hard. It’s amusing. My report started with:
Your spotify was heavy-eyeliner-post-punk-suburban-80s-nobody-puts-baby-in-a-corner bad.
Thank your obsessions with Talking Heads, new wave, and (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life – From “Dirty Dancing” Soundtrack for that.
Mostly reasonable. I’m a 54 year old guy who grew up with KROQ as my background music, so new wave and Talking Heads fit pretty well. But I don’t remember the last time I listened to anything from Dirty Dancing.
Also, this comes up later:
You listen to these tracks too much:
- Dress Sexy At My Funeral by Smog
- Chelsea Hotel #2 by Leonard Cohen
- Stella By Starlight by Miles Davis
- Different Drum by Stone Poneys
- These Things by Looper
And I do listen to most of those, but Chelsea Hotel #2 only comes up because Spotify has decided to add it to my Daily Drive mix, and apparently counts playing any part of it (even after I skip it) as a play.
This isn’t a complaint about the “How Bad” page; it’s using the only data available to it. But it highlights how inaccurate Spotify is at knowing what I want to hear, or even what I usually play. Most of my music is stuff I play from iTunes (or whatever Apple wants to call iTunes these days). I have tons of music that doesn’t exist on Spotify, and I usually let it play randomly. The problem is that iTunes/Apple Music only keeps two data points about a song: when you last played it, and how many times you’ve ever played it. I wanted to have a list of my most played music of 2020, but it can’t be done without an outside assist. I used last.fm and got this list of songs:
That’s better, but it makes it look like I’m a huge fan of White Hassle when it’s really the iTunes shuffle algorithm failing to effectively randomize stuff mixed with my letting music play in the background without paying attention to it.
The top artists list is slightly more reflective of what I listened to in 2020:
But that one has some issues as well. For one thing, slight name changes count as different artists; if you add Elvis Costello to Elvis Costello & The Attractions, they move to second place.
…and this still doesn’t really reflect my “shuffle ’em all and let the algorithm sort ’em out” listening. I mean look at this list of over 4500(!) songs I listened to exactly once in the last year:
So, what have we learned? My main takeaways:
- Music stats are difficult.
- I can write long and boring posts.
LISTEN UP, YOUNGSTERS! AN OLD MAN IS ABOUT TO TALK ABOUT THE GOOD OLD DAYS.
I’m really sad that Post Malone is on KROQ. You might think I mean “that’s not KROQ music!” And I do think that- but I probably don’t think it the way you think I think it.
As I said above, I am an old man. I’ll be 54 in two weeks. I’ve started listening to KROQ at the start of the eighties, when it sounded like a college station that liked to get drunk and fight with its best friend, pirate radio. You might hear Van Halen, you might hear Devo, you might hear the theme from The Jetsons.
DJs would have a loose playlist, but they really played whatever they wanted to play. They brought in their personal records (remember records?). You could call and make a request and it might actually get played. They played some mainstream music, most of what they played couldn’t be heard anywhere else. And new, weird sounds showed up all the time.
I loved listening because I knew I’d hear things that were only on KROQ. I’d probably hear something I’d never heard before.
But then radio shifted, and KROQ shifted with them. “KROQ music” started moving onto more conventional stations. KROQ started to sound like New Wave Oldies. How many times can you play the Red Hot Chili Peppers in a day? A lot, apparently.
Somewhere along the way I stopped listening. The old music was old, and I owned any of it I wanted to hear. The new music didn’t appeal to me, and I thought that was a good thing. I’ve always told my students that every generation needs music that the previous one doesn’t like, or at least doesn’t understand. KROQ was never about appealing to older people, and I had become older people.
So you might think I’d be fine with Post Malone on KROQ, since he clearly fits the “not for old people” profile. But he’s not weird and new. He’s already a pop star. And he’s pretty mainstream. You can’t be an outsider and write the theme to a Spider-Man cartoon movie. Even worse: I like some Post Malone stuff.
It’s probably time to let KROQ die. Radio stations can only adapt so much before the world passes them. Online sources make even early KROQ look stodgy and professional. The current format will get played with, shuffled, adjusted, rejiggered, and eventually – probably soon – they’ll abandon the whole thing and start over. It happens. When it does, KROQ will join stations like KMET, KDAY, and KNAC as wistful memories of old farts like me.
SPECIAL BONUS: I used to be a big enough fan of KROQ that I would make KROQ-specific websites. Here’s one. It might look bad now, but at the time it looked terrible.
Managed to get in a nice 26ish mile ride today at (for me) a good pace. If I get back to riding more than once a week, I might get okay at this again!
I should get back to my “ride every street in the San Fernando Valley” project. I’ve got the Southeast corner pretty well sewn up. The hard part about the rest of it is I have to either drive my bike somewhere else (which I hate), or I have to re-ride for a while on streets I’ve already done (which will take longer).
Also, completely by accident, I found a great old bike song. This is a “new” (circa 1978) version by R. Crumb and the Cheap Suit Serenaders.
Only one? Yup, but this one took a while. I knew it would.
I should have taken more time. Or less time. Some amount of time other than the amount I took. Whichever it was, it’s not changing now. So let me introduce to you:
Pungent Trolls Bleed By Scrapheaps (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
I did sneak in a couple of jokes so weak and obscure that no one will get them.
Part two of my “remake Beatles album covers with anagrams” project.
¡EL HP! (Help!)
Our Burbles (Rubber Soul)
Lover Rev (Revolver)
Someone on twitter did an awesome silly thing where they re-titled James Bond movies with their anagrams. I thought it was a great idea, so I stole it to re-do Beatles albums. Here’s the first batch. I’m skipping the early Capitol hacked-up albums.
Peep Lame Easels (Please Please Me)
White Slab Teeth (With The Beatles)
Aghast, Randy Hid (A Hard Day’s Night)
A Stereo Elf Slab (Beatles For Sale)
The problem with Beatles anagrams is that their album titles are usually pretty short. Some of these would be under ten letters if I didn’t include “Beatles” in the name.
The White Album is probably going to be super lame.
I used to do this thing on Facebook where I’d post the last 50 or so songs I’d played, along with some notes about a few of them. This is pretty much that, except I’m going to throw some Youtube links in along the way.
Charlotte Street – Lloyd Cole And The Commotions
Hold My Hand – The Rutles
Reptiles and Samurai – Oingo Boingo
Mah-Ná, Mah-Ná – Leroy Holmes – probably the best song to ever come from Swedish softcore that was used by the Muppets and Benny Hill.
Ain’t No Good – Cake
Train in Vain – Annie Lennox
High Fidelity – Elvis Costello and the Attractions
A-Tisket A-Tasket – Ella Fitzgerald with Chick Webb And His Orchestra
Don’t Let’s Start – This Radiant Boy
Car Horns and Kentucky – Tom Waits
There She Goes Again – The Velvet Underground
Jump, Jive, An’ Wail – Louis Prima
Baby’s on Fire – Brian Eno
Straight To Hell – Chum
I Feel Fine – The Beatles
Sun Gazer – Hideout
Do You Remember the Riots? – Jens Lekman
Freedom for My People – U2
Hawaii 64 – ccc – ill chemist
Cool it Now (New Edition) – Len
Golden – My Morning Jacket
Zero Hour – The Plimsouls
The Long Grift – They Might Be Giants
Suzanne – Leonard Cohen
Bedsitter – Soft Cell
Cat’s Blues – Palace Music
Fight – The Kleptones
Staircase to the Soul – Weston Smith
Two Lives – Young Fresh Fellows
Persona – Instupendo
Shark Food – Starsailor
Lonely – Bebel Gilberto
My Funny Valentine – Ella Fitzgerald
clairaudients (kill or be killed) – Bright Eyes
No One Else Around – Orchid Mantis
True Romance – Vacation Forever
Blue Fire – Air Waves
Monkey Man – The Maytals
Nice To See You (feat. Floor Cry) – Vansire
A Warning – Thievery Corporation
I’m Not The One – Bye Beneco
Diferente – Gotan Project
Blackbird Chain – Beck
Riding On The Subway – Jesse Malin
Jefferson Starship – – Aug, 5, 1975 – Rock Show Commercial – I don’t care for commercials on the radio, but I love the occasional 40+ year old concert commercial.
the promise – The Cure
Beaten To The Punch – Elvis Costello and the Attractions
I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry – Cowboy Junkies
You Wouldn’t Like Me – The Beths
Blind Love – Tom Waits
Upfield – Billy Bragg
Nothing Matters When We’re Dancing – The Magnetic Fields
The last post about The Hood Internet reminded me of another set of remix/collage records: Double Dee & Steinski’s “The Lessons.” There’s a detailed Wikipedia page about them, but the short version of their bio is that they made “Lesson One” for a Tommy Boy Records contest back in 1983. They won first prize, then recorded a couple more Lessons before moving to other careers. I thought that was it, but today I learned that they released the long-evolving “Lesson 4” last year. The bandcamp link for the EP with the track is below.
They aren’t afraid to use weird samples. “Lesson Three” includes snippets from “Hernando’s Hideaway” and Mars Needs Women. De La Soul must have been at least partially inspired by them.