Listening 2020 (Andrew)

A BREAK FROM TRIATHLON. HERE’S WHAT I LISTENED TO LAST YEAR. NEXT WEEK: WHAT I READ.

According to Spotify my most played artist of 2020 was Taylor Swift. While I’m pretty sure that shows why you should never share your Spotify account with your wife – especially given Kylie was number two and Madonna was number three – it was close. While my most played artist of 2020 would not have been Taylor Swift I can say that my favourite song of 2020 was by her – The Last Great American Dynasty.

The song tells the story of Taylor Swift’s former home and the owner who lived there before her. It’s witty and catchy and sad and triumphant. And I love it because it sounds like a song that could have be written by The National but the fact it was by Taylor Swift showed just how great she is because while the National might have been able to write this song (and one of their members produced it), they could never have written Shake It Off. That Taylor Swift writes both shows exactly why she was both my wife’s favourite singer and my favourite song of the year. Let’s see Bon Ivor tray and write the likes of “She Wore An Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”.

But Taylor Swift wasn’t my greatest Spotify discovery this year that goes to the moment that I was looking at my wife’s playlist that she’d set up for her colleagues at work.

“Why have you got the ‘E’ version of all the songs?” I asked, “that’s a bit bold.”

“What do you mean,” she said, “it’s the excellent version.”

“No,” I said, “it’s the explicit version.”

Sweariest mutha****ing playlist ever.

According to Spotify I listened to over 3000 new genres this year and I can believe it. As I’m working from home I have music on all day and I usually switch on random playlists trying to pick things I’ve never heard as I like to work with music in the background that I don’t know. I find it less distracting than to hear songs I love. I also prefer faster music so I’ve ended up in some strange dance and techno playlist culdesacs which make my home working sound like a trendy clothes shop. I can’t say I’ve saved any of the songs to my favourites but it doesn’t make for interesting background to calls as BOOM I BOOM try BOOM to BOOM switch BOOM it BOOM off BOOM to BOOM hear BOOM BOOM my BOOM BOOM BOOM call.

Instead here are the other songs I’ve loved this year (ignoring anything which was a hit as you probably know them already (though big thumbs up to Harry Style’s Golden).

Sufjan Stevens – Sugar

In any year the man with the initial S.S would be the winner of album of the year. But not this year, well, at least not this S.S monikered man. For the winner, keep reading.

Carly Pearce – Next Girl

A song which could equally be about a serial killer.

Arab Strap – The Turning of Our Bones

And one for his victims.

Orville Peck – Dead of Night

Kanye West – Souls Anchored

Almost makes you want to listen to his Sunday Service album, then you listen to it and remember why sometimes it’s best just to stick to the one good track…

Yes – It Can Happen

U2 – Every Breaking Wave

Taking a break from playlists I also tried to listen to every album by an artist in order. I started with U2 and was surprised to find that some albums I loved have aged horribly – Rattle & Hum should have been a three song single – but others are much better with time, particularly Age of Innocence which was given away free by Apple and then deleted by half the world who didn’t want to wake up to find Bono crooning to them in their ears. This is probably the best song they’ve written in twenty years:

Sturgill Simpson – Sing Along

And the award for album of the year goes to Stugill Simpson for ‘Sound and Fury’. The only thing you need to know is that he’s the only man to ever be nominated for both best country and best rock albums and this song inspired one YouTube comment to simply say “Damn, if I knew country music sounded like this I might actually listen to more of it!”. Funk? Country? Rock? Grunge? Best album of the year.

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