My Year in Spotify

I love data. This is why I keep a spreadsheet that tracks my concert statistics (2017 year in review, coming soon!). So I super love that Spotify gives you an annual look into your listening history.

689 different artists! Amazing.

Some surprising stuff here. I question my top 5 songs a little as I have definitely never listened to “Diamond Heart” or “Lips” on purpose. But I’ll go with it. The stats do not lie.

Do I listen to a lot of brostep? Do you even brostep, bro? I don’t even really know what brostep is. I think that’s what people call Skrillex’ genre. I have never listened to Skrillex on Spotify or really anywhere except a live show.

My top 10! Why is the top 5 different than my other top 5? I have no idea. But yeah this seems mostly accurate. “U Are In My System” has recently made its way back into my frequent rotation after falling off for a few months.

Let’s look at some of the wider Spotify trends this year, shall we?

Most Streamed Artists
1. Ed Sheeran
2. Drake
3. The Weeknd
4. Kendrick Lamar
5. The Chainsmokers

Most Streamed Female Artists
1. Rihanna
2. Taylor Swift
3. Selena Gomez
4. Ariana Grande
5. Sia

Most Streamed Male Artists
1. Ed Sheeran
2. Drake
3. The Weeknd
4. Kendrick Lamar
5. Daddy Yankee (who has come a long way since “Gasolina,” I guess – no disrespect because I will always love that song)

The thing that bothers me about this list is that pretty much all of the top male artists come before the top female artists and while this doesn’t surprise me, we should be past this by now. WOMEN ARE TALENTED, YOU GUYS. Even Taylor Swift, who I don’t like. Sia, I would like to SEE YA higher on this list.

And with that delicious pun, I believe it is my bed time.

Anyone have any interesting Spotify insights to share with the class?



Nobody Listen to Techno (At Least Not Me)

A few days ago I was watching the incredible FKJ, or French Kiwi Juice, at work. FKJ is an electronic music producer who creates beautiful, mostly mellow tunes and who sings and plays a ton of different instruments during his live performances. He is an undeniably creative and skilled musician and even if you don’t like his style of downtempo music you absolutely cannot deny his talent.

As I stood there watching this show in awe I had the same thought that I often do, which is, “Why do people think I listen to bad music?”

Except I already know the answer. And that answer is “techno.”

“Techno,” I’ve come to realize, is the blanket term that people who don’t listen to electronic music use to describe electronic music. And I don’t mean that they use it to describe ALL of electronic music; just the type of electronic music that goes untz untz untz untz. Which, unfortunately, is what a lot of people think all of electronic music is.

What people don’t realize is that music produced electronically can, and does, sound like anything. Certainly there is untz untz as far as the eye can see but there is also electro-pop and electro-hip-hop and electro-rock which for whatever reason seems to always be called its full name, “electronic rock.” Electronic music is the chicken of the music world; you can flavor it however you like.

Which brings me back to techno. Though I do listen to a little bit of untz untz music I actually don’t listen to techno at all. Because you see, all techno is untz untz music but not all untz untz music is techno (we’re getting into some very official music theory terminology now so I hope I don’t lose anyone). So it is very true that techno, however broadly or not-broadly you want to define it, is not the crux of my taste in music. Yet this is what some people think of in reference to music that was created largely on computers. Occasionally someone might reference that I listen to techno, and, cool as the cucumber I am most definitely not I just let it slide even though what I would really love to do is guide people down the path of electro-soul or livetronica.

So people think I listen to techno but really they probably mean house music and even that is not even totally accurate because now I’m going to make it all official with a fancy Venn diagram that I made using very elite design software.

Here is the in-depth analysis of the diagram:

  • Not all electronic music is dance/untz untz music.
  • Not all dance music is techno.
  • Within the realm of electronica, not all of what I listen to is untz untz.
  • None of what I listen to is actual techno.

Acknowledging all of this, I’m still going to continue using “techno” the way the masses do, which is, to describe dancey electronica. Moving on.

I wouldn’t necessarily have a problem with people thinking I listen to techno except for the fact that no one likes or respects techno except the people who listen to it. Whenever I read internet comments about electronic music events from non-attendees it’s never with a tone of excitement, curiosity, or anything remotely positive. No one ever says, “Man it was so great having that event right in my back yard, I got to listen to such cool music for free!” People who don’t listen to techno think it’s just beats or noise with no musicality and is listened to solely by shitty people, to boot (they are at least occasionally right with regard to any of the above points).

On the one hand, I totally get it – dance music in general is something of an acquired taste. Even after several years of listening to it I haven’t fully acquired it, which is why most of the electronic music I listen to actually just sounds like regular music and not like thumping bass and random screeching sounds. If I were able to indoctrinate more people into the land of the music I actually listen to instead of the music that they think I listen to, they wouldn’t call it techno anymore. They would say, “Wow, this is a pop song that happens to have been created on a computer and it is sooo great. You have excellent taste in music, Arielle!” (This is verbatim what they would say.)

So really what it all boils down to is that Eminem was kind of right in that NOBODY ACTUALLY LISTEN TO TECHNO because techno is not what you think. I’m kidding. Some people actually listen to techno. Just not me.

Opening Up My Time Capsule

If you’re a Spotify user, you probably spent significant time at the end of September browsing through – if not listening to – your Time Capsule playlist. Time Capsules are personalized playlists meant to capture roughly 2 hours of nostalgia for your teens and early 20s.

I took a quick glance at my Time Capsule when it launched in September but stopped myself because I wanted to give it the time it truly deserved; to listen through and really feel the songs to see which ones evoked some kind of memory for me.

Well, I didn’t think it would take 6 weeks but I’m finally ready to dissect my Time Capsule! Below are 10 highlights that really stood out to me. Listen to all the goodness at the bottom.

1. Everclear – So Much For The Afterglow
Everclear was, I think, the first concert I went to in high school that involved my friends and I taking the train into the city (no parents!). I pretended I enjoyed it, but I didn’t. I lost my friends early on and spent the rest of the time getting jostled by the crowd. I loved, and still love, Everclear. But that was not fun for me.

2. Green Day – Basket Case
Another amazing song but this suggestion offends me because Dookie came out in 1994 and I was not a teenager then. I’m not as old as you clearly think I am THANKS SPOTIFY.

3. Missy Elliot – Get Ur Freak On
Okay I mean I devoted an entire blog post to this song, so.

4. Ben Folds Five – Philosophy
Okay this is a little weird because I listened to this song about 6 times today before I even knew I was going to crack my Time Capsule open.

5. The Verve Pipe – The Freshmen
I have very explicit memories of singing this song in my 1st period History class as a freshman in high school because it’s a song about freshmen and “we were merely FRESHMEN” and oh, the hilarity.

6. Soundgarden – Black Hole Sun
No, no, no. This song came out in 1994 (still not a teenager in that year) and even though I haven’t watched the music video probably since around that time, I remember finding it creepy. The black hole sun was weird.

You know what? I’m going to watch that video right now. For the first time in over 20 years. Excuse me.

OH HELL NO. I made it 30 seconds in and I can’t watch anymore it’s CREEPIER THAN I REMEMBER. The weird faces! Hard pass. Here’s the video in case you want to see it, though, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. Ugh.

7. Explosions in the Sky – Your Hand in Mine
Seriously? I heard of Explosions in the Sky for the first time in 2016. I had no idea they were this old.

8. Missy Elliot – Work It
Yep, Missy is on here twice because she deserves it. I used to love singing this song in college and hearing one friend in particular make a very concerted effort to sing the backwards parts.

9. Counting Crows – Mr. Jones
Ah, memories. How I loved singing about “flamingo dancers” before I had ever heard of flamenco.

10. Blackstreet – No Diggity
I don’t have a specific memory of this song but it’s a classic. Have you ever met someone who doesn’t like this song? Of course you haven’t. Here are 5 excellent “No Diggity” covers that I compiled a few years ago.

On Repeat: So Much Kesha

I am enamored of Kesha’s new album, my friends. I’ve loved this badass chick for a long time and I’m so happy that she has risen from the ashes of hard times and is back touring and creating music. Her new album “Rainbow” is a pretty solid mix of OG Kesha plus some country twang (I know, it’s great though) and emotional ballads. Here are my current 2 favorites:

This is the ANTHEM right now. I am woman, hear me roar.  

It’s probably less than once a year that I get attached to feelsy ballads as I’m more of an upbeat music kind of lady. But here we are. This is so moving.

Are you also obsessed with Kesha’s new album? Do you have reasonably priced tickets to either of her upcoming NYC shows that you want to give me (please)? Let’s discuss.

Meadows: The Music (2017)

Meadows Music & Arts Festival, you have captured my heart. 2 years in a row of a successful, relatively hiccup-free event jam-packed with awesome music? So much yes. This was such a treat for me because I don’t go to as many all-genre festivals as electronic ones, so I got to experience some really unique sets. Here come the highlights!

Big Wild
This was an awesome opening to the festival, and extra special because I interviewed him a few hours after his set! He has such a diverse sound and I’m a sucker for an electronic act with live drumming.

Marian Hill
You know Marian Hill from “Down,” the Apple commercial song. I’ve seen them live a few times this year and they always kill it. Their music is super sexy and Samantha, who does their vocals, is badass.

Blood Orange
I first heard of Blood Orange a few years ago because his apartment burned down and my friend’s brother was living in his building at the time. This is a weird origin story, but it’s the truth. I had never really listened to his music at all but since hearing of the fire I continued to hear his name out in the music world more and more until one day I just realized that he’s pretty legit. His performance at Meadows was really something else – part R&B, part pop, and he plays a variety of instruments, both sings and raps, and has a full band backing him. There was a lot going on and it was this really beautifully orchestrated set.

I sort of forgot about Jay-Z amongst all my excitement about all the other artists on this lineup, and because I haven’t been listening to as much rap music as I used to. This set just felt so HUGE. I loved it. He gave a nice tribute to Chester Bennington and hearing a few Linkin Park mashups was a little heartbreaking.

Big Boi
He played a lot of Outkast songs. Hell yes.

LL Cool J
He has so much swagger and made a great joke about people forgetting he’s a rapper (“What, you think I’m just some dude who hosts the Grammys?”). He brought out DMC for a good chunk of this set and it was like an old school hip hop medley. I kept trying to sit down during this set because I wasn’t feeling well but I couldn’t because I just had to dance it out. 

Big Gigantic
I took the opportunity of seeing one of my favorite electronic acts at a non-electronic festival to be up front at the rail for this set. Usually I’m too old for this but I knew that it would be relatively easy to get a spot there and that most of the Meadows crowd would be at a different stage. It was a great choice and I had a blast. Plus, Jeremy and I were wearing matching sunglasses. 

This was the main reason I wanted to go to Meadows in the first place. I have loved Weezer for so long and don’t get the opportunity to see them live very often anymore. Their set was 75 minutes of pure joy for me, even though they glossed over my favorite song through a medley where they only played little snippets of a lot of songs. I FORGIVE YOU, WEEZER. 

Red Hot Chili Peppers
I loved this set, but I did not love it in the way that I thought about it afterward. Maybe I was tired at the end of a 3 day festival, maybe it was annoying being in a crowd of what felt like every single person in all of New York City. RHCP is a classic act and screaming along to songs I’ve loved for years and years was wonderful, but it’s not a set I’ll carry with me as one of the most special I’ve ever attended. Shrug.

Meadows, you did me right. See you in 2018!

Meadows Festival: The Experience (2017)

Even though it’s only been around for 2 years, Meadows has been such an awesome addition to my New York summers (last year’s event was in October, but whatever). The festival expanded from 2 days to 3 this year, and this year I attended the full event instead of just one day. So I had lots of time to take it all in!

I had a media pass to Meadows this year and they had a separate entrance for press and staff! I waltzed right in every day without waiting. But it didn’t look like there was much of a line anyway.

The Crowd
The difference between all-genre festival crowds and electronic festival crowds is that the all-genre people are dressed in such a way that they could conceivably go out into greater society afterward and still look normal. EDM kids are far more concerned with their outfits than other people. I like being around crowds that are a little older and a little less Instagrammy. Good job, Meadows.

Fun Stuff
Day festivals are never going to have the epic type of experiential parts of camping festivals, but Meadows does a pretty good job of having graffiti art and other NYC-appropriate extras. They had the usual crop of photo booth options and sponsors handing out freebies (the free Vitamin Waters gave me so much life on these hot days). The best thing, however, was “Totally Tubular,” the crowd of blow-up wiggle guys. Whoever had this idea should be so proud of themselves.

What I find interesting here is that my recap from last year mentioned that Meadows had high speed spigots. This year’s event definitely did not. There were plenty of faucets but they were a little slow. Not a huge problem but I wonder why the downgrade.

Probably the best festival layout I’ve ever seen. 4 stages in the middle, facing outward, with food, bars, and other vendors on the perimeter. It’s so smart and efficient.

It definitely takes time to get between my house in Brooklyn and this festival, but I LOVE being able to take the train. Full disclosure – I left the festival a few minutes early on all 3 of the days because I had no desire to be on a packed 7 train with thousands of people. I do not regret this, even though I think if I had stayed until the end I could have gotten an express train. Either way, I love the subway and I much prefer traveling to Citi Field than to Randall’s Island, the site of Electric Zoo, Governors Ball, and Panorama (which I haven’t been to).

This is not a cheap festival. I had a number of friends who wanted to join for a single day of the festival but were deterred by the $150 price tag (3-days were around $350, I believe). But hey, it’s New York. We expect expensive here.

They could have used more bathrooms.

And now, my friends, the 2017 festival season is over. (With the exception of Global Citizen Festival, a single-day event in Central Park with only one stage that I have never bothered to recap in this same way, although I’ve gone every single year). I’m sad, but it was an extremely full summer. And 2018 will be here before we know it!

The Top 7 Music Videos Shot In One Take

I have an unabashed love for music videos shot in one take. I don’t know why. I guess I’m just so impressed by the fact that there was probably a lot of pressure involved and possibly a ton of retakes and it’s like, OKAY LET’S NOT GET 90% OF THE WAY THROUGH AND THEN FUCK IT UP THIS TIME, YOU GUYS. (This is 100% what I would be yelling if I were involved in a project like this. I’m very patient.)

I’m always excited to randomly stumble upon a new one-take music video, which doesn’t happen super often because I barely see music videos as it is. But here are a few that I love and have watched…many times.

1. OK Go – Here It Goes Again
OK Go are the masters of the one-take video. Otherwise known as “the treadmill video,” this one is so fun and great and would still be impressive in two or three or a million takes.

2. Kiesza – Hideaway
Super fun choreography and I love that it’s shot in Williamsburg. You see all sorts of Brooklyn-y people.

3. Too Many Zooz – Bedford
This one seems simple but the fact that they get on and off the subway during this video is insane. Also shot in Brooklyn (at least initially). When watching it I thought to myself, “They must be shooting super late at night, otherwise this train would never be empty enough for this.” (This version of the video has the timestamp in the beginning – the original version I saw had it at the end).

4. Linkin Park – Bleed It Out
The cool thing about this video is less how it’s shot and more the concept, with the band singing and the audience going in reverse. (RIP Chester Bennington, I miss Linkin Park a lot).

5. The Black Keys – Lonely Boy

6. Weezer – Undone (The Sweater Song)
Not super flashy but sort of an interesting, low key take. And what a great song.

7. Vampire Weekend – Oxford Comma
Ezra Koenig walks through a farm while a random movie films behind him.