Saturday, November 22, 2008

Music: Help with Best of 2008

TORONTO, ONTARIO - As the end of the year approaches, I was surprised to look on my personal copy of iTunes and discover that my playlist for the year 2008 contains only nine songs. Over the course of any given year, I create a playlist that contains the songs that represent the soundtrack of my year. These aren't necessarily my favorite songs of the year--though those do show up on the list and tend to have a higher play count. They are the songs that to me define a year--a song that I didn't particularly like but was playing all the time while I took a significant trip (say, Lionel Richie's "Just for You" which was popular in Europe in 2004) or that became significant politically (say, Fleetwood Mac's "Peacekeeper" in 2003) will be placed on the list, unless I really don't want to hear it again (like Katy Perry's "I Kissed A Girl" this year--it's hard to deny its significance, but I'll be happy if I don't hear it again).

Normally, I end up with about twenty songs on the list for any given year, sometimes a few more. This decade, the shortest list had been 18 in 2000, with the longest being 24 in 2002. However, the list was only 15 songs long in 2007. I passed that off at the time as being a function of that year being a relatively light travel year for me, and often it is when traveling, when I break routines, that I am mostly likely to encounter new music--and remember it. Besides, statistically speaking, 15 wasn't all that much shorter than the previously-shortest list.

That explanation won't work in 2008. While far from the heaviest travel year of my life, it certainly hasn't been my lightest--blog readers will note that Minnesota and California have appeared in the dateline in less than three months since the inception of the blog, and Washington state will be added shortly.

A more plausible explanation is that I'm having a harder time finding new music these days. Once, I would rely on listening to commercial radio stations for introductions to new music. That ended with the rise of the podcast starting in 2005, as suddenly I had something to listen to at times when no interesting programs were on public or talk radio locally. Yet, that didn't stop me from finding new music. By checking the playlists of certain radio station sites (WXRV near Boston, better known as 92.5 The River, KLLC San Francisco, better known as Alice@97.3, and WTMX Chicago, better known as The Mix are three favorites) and the iTunes list of most popular downloads, I seemed to find about as many interesting songs as I ever had.

However, some of the stations I used to pay attention to, like 92.9 WBOS in Boston, no longer exist, and others, like KPLZ "Star" 101.5 in Seattle, have gotten considerably less adventurous in their playlists to the point that they don't even seem to be worth looking at anymore. There seem to be fewer editorial voices to turn to for guidance.

The same problem of fewer reputable editorial voices, of course, plagues the mainstream news media. As newspapers and newsrooms shut down or get their stories from central services like the New York Times, the Associated Press, or Fox News, it's harder to find interesting editorial voices--and the easier it is to just settle on one that is preferred, to the detriment of reading any other opinions.

So, I need the help of my readers. What new music has interested you in 2008 that I should check out? Please leave a comment to this post, and maybe I'll be able to expand my list to its more traditional size.

To get things started, the nine songs that I have placed on the list for 2008 so far are, in order of addition:
    (1) "Sorry" by Buckcherry
    (2) "Stop and Stare" by OneRepublic
    (3) "Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis
    (4) "Pocketful of Sunshine" by Natasha Bedingfield
    (5) "Realize" by Colbie Caillat
    (6) "New Soul" by Yael Naim
    (7) "My Song" by Brandi Carlile
    (8) "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz
    (9) "Better in Time" by Leona Lewis
Since a number of readers have had difficulty posting comments, I have turned off moderation for now. If a blog like Blather Watch can exist without moderation, there's no reason this one can't. So, if you have a suggestion, please leave a comment. I have no intention of turning on moderation again unless a spam problem comes to exist.

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