The Soundtrack of my Life

The Soundtrack of My Life

What is the soundtrack to your life? That is a question I have been asking myself for some time. Music is at the center of my life in terms of both emotional connection and hobby-level fascination. Over the course of my life, I suspect I have listened to 3,000 or so albums, been to hundreds of concerts, and I cannot even measure the hours of listening to the radio and Spotify. All of that music listening has made me wonder which songs do I cherish the most and what do I listen to most often? What is the Soundtrack to my Life?

If you are a Spotify subscriber you are likely aware of their annual unwrapped synopsis of your year in music listening each year. I know I start to look for it the first week in December and when it arrives I subject it to FBI level investigation. What artists were my favorite? Which songs surprised me or made me question everything? What song was the mood of that year? What I learned in 2021 was that I listened to 59,500 minutes of music on Spotify. Or about 2 hours and 40 minutes every day of the year (and this does not even count my Sirius/XM listening in the car). In addition, you also get a Top 100 playlist that shows you the 100 tunes you listened to the most. So, as someone who looks for patterns in everything I had an idea. What if these lists helped me better understand my personal soundtrack? I dug a little more and found the last five lists (2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017). There they were.

As one would, I then placed all five lists into an Excel spreadsheet and started to do my thing. This post is a breakdown of those five lists and my thoughts on what it all may mean in terms of my personal soundtrack. When I first took a look at the list I noticed just how consistent it was. Despite having a wide variety of artists and songs it was clear I am into alternative and indie music and the VAST majority of the songs listed were from 1985-2005 but that could have been predicted. In 1985 I was 12 and in 2005 I was 32. Those seem to be prime music development age. I was surprised at how few legacy acts were on the list. While there was the occasional Rolling Stones or Bob Dylan tune there was not much by them or The Beatles and such. Also, I thought I liked hip hop more but I guess not. And while Depeche Mode is my favorite band it did not show up as much as one would think.

In total there are 360 songs on my five-year list represented by 236 different musical acts. The five most popular acts (acts that appeared the most times) are:

  1. R.E.M.
  2. Depeche Mode
  3. Third Eye Blind
  4. Simon and Garfunkel
  5. Tom Petty

I cannot say I was surprised by this. Now, the most popular song for each of my Top 100 was a bit surprising:

2017 – Black Beatles – Rae Sremmund

2018 – Back in the High Life – Steve Winwood

2019 – You Get What You Give – New Radicals

2020 – Somebody That I Used to Know – Goyte

2021 – One Week – Barenaked Ladies

I have to admit. I really don’t know what is up with these #1s. I love all of these songs and they would be what I feel is on the list of my all-time favorite songs but I have to guess that somehow they rose to the top because they were featured in song list mixes I really enjoyed. One of the things I did notice was the top song for me each year never had more than 35 spins for the year. So even if it was my number one I listen to a massive variety of songs so I suspect the bench is really deep. I also have to suspect the predictive model that is used by Spotify to build playlists because I like to find a song I like and go to the song “radio” and let it fly.

In terms of omissions, I was surprised at two glaring omissions. Not a single song by The Smiths was on the list and I often refer to them as one of my all-time favorite bands and only one song, Cherish, was on there by Madonna. Madonna is my all-time favorite pop star but I guess I listen to a wide variety and not certain songs over and over. It should be noted that the last, or song 100, on the list each year all had more than 10 spins. So if I listened to Oh Father by Madonna or Cemetery Gates by The Smiths 9 times that would not show up.

I wonder if I later combine the total spins into the equation and was able to use my entire history then the list may look different. Maybe Black Beatles, which was a phenomenon in 2017 would drop off completely and other songs would emerge. That said, I had 64 songs appear more than one year on my year-end more than one year. Below is the list of songs that made the multi-year designation. The songs from Age of Consent by New Order down, appeared twice on the list, Amber by 311, down was three times. None of the songs were four years on the list and only one – Midnight City by M83 as on the list all five years. Apparently, I listen to it an average of 31 times a year. I REALLY must like this song.  So there is the list take a look.

Midnight CityM83
Don’t You (Forget About Me)Simple Minds
Every Little Thing She Does (is Magic)Police
Free FallinTom Petty
Into Your ArmsLemonheads
MapsYeah Yeah Yeahs
No RainBlind Melon
Pumped Up KickFoster The People
The Boys of SummerDon Henley
The FreshmenVerve Pipe
The Killing MoonEcho and the Bunnymen
the WeightThe Band
ThirteenBig Star
You Can Call Me AlPaul Simon
Age of ConsentNew Order
American GirlTom Petty
Back in the Chain GangPretenders
Back in the High Life AgainSteve Winwood
Between Something and NothingOcean Blue
Brass in PocketPretenders
BrickBen Folds Five
Don’t You Want meHuman League
DreamsFleetwood mac
Enjoy the SilenceDepeche Mode
Every Breath you TakePolice
Everybody Wants to Rule the WorldTears for Fears
Fade Into YouMazzy Star
Feed the TreeBelly
Feelin Good AgainRobert Earl Keen
Friday I’m in LoveThe Cure
Go Your Own WayFleetwood Mac
Here and NowLetters to Cleo
Hold My HandHootie and the Blowfish
Hungry EyesEric Carmen
I Miss YouBlink-182
It’s My LifeTalk Talk
Just Like heavenThe Cure
Just Like HoneyJesus and Mary Chain
Just What I neededCars
Man on the MoonR.E.M.
More than ThisRoxy Music
Once in a LifetimeTalking Heads
Our HouseCrosby Stills and Nash
Pretty In PinkPsychedelic Furs
Romeos TuneSteve Forbert
Season (Waiting on You)Future Islands
Shiny Happy PeopleR.E.M.
SleepyheadPassion Pit
SlideGoo Goo Dolls
Somebody Else1975
Standing outside a phoneboothPrimitive Radio Gods
Take a WalkPassion Pit
The Only Living Boy In New YorkSimon and Garfunkel
The Staunton LickLemon Jelly
Tongue TiedGrouplove
Ventura HighwayAmerica
Waiting for my Life to BeginColin Hay
World in my EyesDepeche Mode
You Make My DreamsHall and Oates

I loved taking a look at this. It told me a lot about what music I am into and I really enjoyed the surprises. I don’t expect everyone to do the same thing but take a look at your lists, you might just find “The Soundtrack to your Life”.

Published by mprest13

I am a professional at the University of Central Florida who likes entertainment, politics and sports.

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