Most Played Songs of 2021

I have as a matter of long habit done a variety of year-end lists and articles in various areas of interest (to me), including a list of the Most Played Songs around the Smith household, as calculated by the iTunes account where I synch all of our iPods. I’ve been doing this since 2007, when we got our first family iPod, a Mother’s Day gift for Marcia, at her request. Today, we still have eight iPods in use in various locations: car, living room, office, gym, etc.

As has been a recurring theme for me over a lifetime of listening, I do recognize that I’m once again fighting a rear guard battle with my iPods, with playback technology making another of its seismic shifts from a purchased media file model to streaming services, delivered over various smart devices, and designed so that we never actually own anything musical anymore, but just rent it. (That link in the prior sentence goes into more detail about why I don’t like that, if interested). That said, Marcia needed to get a Spotify account for her yoga instructor class in late 2019, and we have been using her account and a Bluetooth speaker while we’re on our various travels, and that has worked out fine, as much as I hate to admit it. And as much as it bothers me that the play counts for those songs so played aren’t readily aggregated into my master list. Oh, the humanity! The horror! The Horror!!

I posted my most recent Most Played Songs list in October 2020, just before I packed up my computer for our move to Arizona. With the Thanksgiving holiday visits now behind us, and as I look forward to a couple of upcoming trips, it seems a good time to start my annual process of year-end wrap-up. So this morning, I pushed the big (virtual) button that blows up all of my current play counts and playlists, laying the groundwork for the 2022 listening year, and allowing me to post the Top 40 Most Played Songs at Chateau JES and MBS before starting the counts afresh.

As I note annually with this report, we synch all of our many fiddly widgets to one computer and one master iTunes account, so this Most Played Songs list represents the aggregated play counts from all of our iPods. This means that the songs so featured are often counter-intuitive, since they represent the heart of a musical Venn Diagram where our family’s tastes most closely overlap, even though each of us individually may most like different things. I spin a lot of Napalm Death every year, for example, but they very, very rarely show up on these lists, since they’re never played when Marcia and Katelin are around. The grindcore is for me-time only.

I’m already working on my various other Year-End Lists (e.g. Best Albums, Films and Books of 2021), so consider this the opening salvo of the annual ending cycle that will unfold over the next month. If you’re so inclined, you can create a Spotify playlist of the songs below (because I know that you all just love creating Spotify playlists, just to spite me)(Spitify, it should be called!), and that will give you a sense of what it sounded like to spend time around our spaces over the past 13 months. The list covers a lot of stylistic ground, which I like. Maybe it will inspire you to further check into some of these excellent artists’ catalogs. They’re all great, guaranteed!

  1. “Second Life,” by Gang of Four
  2. “Things Change,” by Spooky Tooth
  3. “Again and Again,” by Bob Mould
  4. “Don’t Say No (Edit),” by Can
  5. “Gutter Tactics,” by Dälek
  6. “Things We Do,” by Fun Boy Three
  7. “I’m Not Talking,” by Mose Allison
  8. “Call Me Up,” by Gang of Four
  9. “Agony Box,” by Shriekback
  10. “2012 (The Pillage),” by Dälek
  11. “I Don’t Believe It,” by Fun Boy Three
  12. “Saved,” by Swans
  13. “Primitive Painters,” by Felt
  14. “I Really Hope You Do,” by The Friends of Distinction
  15. “Man of a Thousand Faces,” by Marillion
  16. “Low Rider,” by War
  17. “Midnight Trolley,” by Daniel Kahn (Feat. Vanya Zhuk)
  18. “Book of Rules,” by The Heptones
  19. “My Own Soul’s Warning,” by The Killers
  20. “I Was Made for Lovin’ You,” by KISS
  21. “Shipbuilding,” by Robert Wyatt
  22. “Space Cowboy,” by The Steve Miller Band
  23. “Shambala,” by Three Dog Night
  24. “Sweet and Dandy,” by Toots and the Maytals
  25. “Runnin’ With the Devil,” by Van Halen
  26. “Black Starliner Must Come,” by Culture
  27. “Earl Grey,” by Fleetwood Mac
  28. “Armalite Rifle,” by Gang of Four
  29. “Ástin Er Undarleg,” by Guðmundur Rúnar
  30. “Pound,” by Human Sexual Response
  31. “The Harder They Come,” by Jimmy Cliff
  32. “Howard Johnson’s Got His Ho-Jo Working,” by NRBQ
  33. “If You Love Me (Let Me Know),” by Olivia Newton-John
  34. “R.I.P. Blackat,” by Public Enemy
  35. “Tell Me Something Good,” by Rufus
  36. “Walking in the Snow,” by Run the Jewels
  37. “Bollo Rex,” by Shriekback
  38. “Bad Worn Thing,” by Wire
  39. “Two Sevens Clash,” by Culture
  40. “Woman of 1000 Years,” by Fleetwood Mac

I know this photo is going to be replaced by a photo of a Bluetooth Speaker at some point, but I still cling to my current paradigm, desperately.

4 thoughts on “Most Played Songs of 2021

    • It IS an amazing song, isn’t it? I tend to cite it as one of the strangest pop hits ever . . . it’s structure and arrangements are so unusual, but yet it works as a massive singalong and dance-floor anthem despite its weird cadences. I didn’t know until somewhat shockingly recently that Stevie Wonder wrote it . . . but that explains a lot!


  1. Pingback: What’s Up in the Neighborhood, December 4, 2021 – Chuck The Writer

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