Most Played Songs of 2011

Several years ago, Katelin and I got Marcia an iPod for Mother’s Day. Katelin already had one, and then I got one for myself, and then we got another one for the family room stereo, and then Marcia got a second one, so she has one for the gym and one for her car. I manage and synch all of the family iPods into a single iTunes account on my computer, so that the play data from each iPod accumulates to that one account.

This creates an interesting sort of “Family Top 40” in terms of the songs that get played the most over time, as the most played songs don’t necessarily come from anybody’s all-time favorite bands. For example, I listen to Napalm Death all the time, but no one else in the house does, so they rarely rate highly in the overall play count. Top songs instead tend to come from the places where our individual tastes overlap most congruently, and sometimes those aren’t obvious, so we get some surprising results.

Each year on Mother’s Day, I wipe the play counts clear for the entire account, after recording the 40 most played songs of the preceding 365 days. This year’s Top 40 had less Katelin influence in it than in prior years, since she was home less often than she’s been in the past, and I’m buying and playing less of her music on our local account accordingly.

27 different artists were represented in the Top 40, including multiple appearances by Scotland’s Frightened Rabbit (four), Albany’s Gay Tastee and New Zealand’s Bats (three each), plus a pair of songs each from Real Estate (New Jersey), The Joy Formidable (Wales), Sin Fang Bous (Iceland), Snog (Australia), The Pogues (Ireland) and White Denim (Austin). We are clearly international in our tastes.

The top of the heap was tighter than it’s ever been, with the three most played songs separated by only two plays. The winner turned out to be “Casablanca,” an incredibly infectious slice of spazzy lo-fi guitar-and-drum pop from Ireland’s So Cow. Canada’s Bruce Peninsula nabbed the second spot with the percussive call-and-response shout-along “Crabapples,” while former Kamikaze Heart and Annabel Lee singer-drummer-songwriter Gaven Richard’s fuzzy riff-driven “High Dive” kept the bronze medal here in Albany, with a production assist from everybody’s favorite Wolfman.

Here’s the complete list of the 40 Most Played Songs in our household over the past year, out of the 9,742 songs on my computer. I’ve put some links in to some of the more eclectic and perhaps hard to find things, but consider all of these worth investigating, if you’re looking to start your own family jukebox.

1. “Casablanca” by So Cow

2. “Crabapples” by Bruce Peninsula

3. “High Dive” by Gaven Richard

4. “I.O.I.O” by The Bee Gees

5. “In My Car” by The Magnetic Fields

6. “Fun Stuff” by Frightened Rabbit

7. “Orion Town 2” by Frontier Ruckus

8. “Weak and Nervous” by Gay Tastee

9. “Green River” by Real Estate

10. “Beautiful Brand New” by Gay Tastee

11. “Jolene” by Dolly Parton

12. “Cradle” by The Joy Formidable

13. “The Most Beautiful Girl” by Charlie Rich

14. “kW-h” by British Sea Power

15. “Swim Until You Can’t See Land” by Frightened Rabbit

16. “A Fire to Sleep In” by Sin Fang Bous

17. “Nothing Like You” by Frightened Rabbit

18. “Winston” by Gay Tastee

19. “A Man” by Snog

20. “Melt Down the Knives” by Sin Fang Bous

21. “Born Together” by Plush

22. “Gay A” by Menomena

23. “Down All the Days” by The Pogues

24. “We Are the Battery Human” by Stornoway

25. “Before Your Birthday Ends” by Suckers

26. “Esophagus” by Alice Donut

27. “Things” by Frightened Rabbit

28. “Old World United” by Here We Go Magic

29. “Lorelei” by The Pogues

30. “Fake Blues” by Real Estate

31. “WDA” by White Denim

32. “That’s How You’ll Find Me” by The Bats

33. “Don’t You Rise” by The Bats

34. “Cover Me (Slowly)” by Deerhunter

35. “While the Flies” by The Joy Formidable

36. “IEIEI” by White Denim

37. “Like Water in Your Hands” by The Bats

38. “Tin Man” by Future Islands

39. “Feedback in the Field” by Plants and Animals

40 “This World (Done Me Wrong)” by Snog

6 thoughts on “Most Played Songs of 2011

  1. I think you must be familiar with the music blank stare. This is the look one gets — often at work or a party — when you rave about a track on your iPod or comment on a band you’d like to see.

    But it’s always thrilling when you meet a person who likes what you like — or better yet, turn someone on to something new.

    • Oh yeah, Rob, I know the blank stare well . . . and there’s a corollary to that, for folks have been around me for too long: the music eye roll.

      But as you note, when the connection is made, it’s magic . . . honestly, some of my longest-term friendships have been (and remain) with people who I befriended over music. Spending a few hours debating the lyrical content and merit of Jethro Tull’s A Passion Play is far more effective than taking a blood oath when it comes to cementing a life-long connection . . .

  2. Such eclectic musical tastes! Clearly, though, you are all music lovers. It is awesome that you all share music with each other. My iPod sat so long unused that the battery died. I’m sure I’m missing out — I must be missing that music gene. My girls couldn’t live without their iPods, though, so I think that they will be okay.

    • It is nice that Katelin has generally appreciate the music I bring into the house, rather than taking the “If my parents like it, it must suck” approach . . .

      I do have my things that are only allowed to be played in my office or at the gym, but for the most part, we have a nice big pool of music that we all like to choose from.

  3. The most played jazz numbers in our collection would probably be by Eric Dolphy, Charles Earland, Charles Mingus, and/or Yusef Lateef. There’s not much classical in there, though . . .

  4. Pingback: It All Sounds the Same to Me . . . « INDIE ALBANY

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