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Spotify Wrapped 2019

For unbearable music nerds, such as myself, the end of the year brings about a tradition helping us further our quest for world domination of musical taste, arrogance and snobbery. This fabled event is none other than the release of our annual Spotify Wrapped – a playlist of our 100 most-listened to songs of the year with some pointless summaries revealing how much time we spend listening to music.

Yes, we know Last.FM exists and tracks our listening habits throughout the year non-stop, but this doesn’t bother us. We have our playlist, and we will indulge in its light nostalgia and continue our conservative crusade forever!

Naturally, I was excited for mine. I’d written a blog about punk and new wave from October 2018-May 2019 and had imagined I’d made some good discoveries throughout the year. I was also eager to see whether I’d beaten the length of time I’d listened to my favourite band The Fall in 2018 (143 hours).

In I went. Good news! Sort of! I was informed I had listened to The Fall for 248 hours – six days and eight hours – in 2019, 105 hours more than the previous year. Embarrasingly, however, 30 of my top 100 songs were by The Fall. It got worse – only 11 of the 100 were from this century, and only 6 of these were from the 2010s. From quick glances through previous Wrapped playlists, this was no new trend.

To think that 89 of my 100 most listened to songs were from the 20th century was, if I’m honest, a little bit depressing. The variety and creativity of current music was alien to me due to total ignorance and a pretentious dismissal of nearly all new sounds. I’m 20 years old! This shouldn’t be happening!

For a while, though, I made virtually no effort to tackle this. I’d discovered Angel Olsen’s All Mirrors, and made the executive decision of that album being all I needed for now. I loved it, and nothing new will conceivably come close to it, surely?

Perfect Sound Whatever

Then, something changed – friends of mine gave me James Acaster’s book Perfect Sound Whatever for Christmas. After breaking up with his girlfriend and seeing his professional relationship with his agent fall to pieces in 2016, Acaster started a battle with depression and began to suffer, at times, suicidal thoughts.

He was in New York in January 2017 when his self-medication and recovery began. His method? Listening to as many albums from 2016 as possible, no matter the genre, obscurity or accessibility. His findings ranged from a recorder-prog project to his own contribution to ‘The Greatest Year For Music of All Time’ with his own band Luna Dott Raids The Bee Pigeon, a wonderfully-named supergroup made up of early noughties artists from Kettering who Acaster had previously played with. In total, he listened to 364 albums.

I started reading the book on the 5th of January. I am usually an awful, awful reader of books. The kind of person who gradually ploughs through until about halfway, tells everyone how great the book is, and then ditches it entirely. And then pretends to have read the whole thing to look cool and clever and really down with the whole book scene, y’know? Yeah man, totally.

At the time of publishing, however, I have read nearly 200 pages of the 290 page book. I cannot put it down. It is a frank account of his struggles with ill mental health and a passionate, non-judgemental tribute to all forms of music, to the sheer existence of music, wherever it may come from. I recommend it to all reading this.

Now, I have not been through a break-up. Nor has my agent decided his services and skills are not being properly utilised in our professional relationship. Nor do I have an agent. But, I digress, Acaster has inspired me to do my own journey into the music of 2019. I do not plan on going into the depths that Acaster did, but I am determined to broaden my horizons within current music and hopefully pass on some recommendations to readers on the way. I aim to blend some big hits from 2019 with some obscurities and deliver a range of genres for discovery and, hopefully, worthwhile fandom.

So, here’s to 2019 and all its elusive offerings!