That Was The Year That Was (In Music): 2021 Edition

Last week I posted my 2021 reading report from Goodreads; this week, it’s time for my 2021 listening report from Last.fm. Not surprisingly, it looks a lot like last year’s. After all, I’m nothing if not predictable.

A few observations about these statistics:

  • A year or two ago we watched the Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody”, which caused me to realize that (a) I knew all those Queen songs and (b) I didn’t have any of them, except for the ones on the Highlander soundtrack. I rectified that by picking up their massive “Platinum Collection” which, because it has so many songs on it*, would be expected to catapult Queen to the top of the listening list.
  • In 2019 I had 11 followers who I didn’t know who they were; in 2020, those 11 followers disappeared. Now I have 14 followers and I still don’t know who they are. This Messiah business is very confusing.
  • I once again attended zero events in 2021, thus keeping up my decades-long streak of attending zero events every year.
  • I’m still way out in front on the “Scrobble Leaderboard”, and still mostly playing the same old stuff. Like I said: Nothing if not predictable.
  • This year, I’m 1% less mainstream than last year. By the time I’m 100 I’ll be totally alternative, just you wait and see.

Here are my top 100 artists for 2021:

A few notes on this chart:

  • Not a lot of change from 2020 there, as, once again, may be expected based on my minuscule “New Artists” rate.
  • In this year’s Battle of the Pop/Punk Violinists, Emilie Autumn came out wayyyy ahead of Lindsey Stirling. This is another instance of The Benefit of Albums With Lots of Songs on Them.
  • Despite the fact that Metric is my actual favorite band, they barely cracked the top 20 this year, which is an example of The Tyranny of Shuffle Play, The Effect of Not Having As Many Albums, and a lack of The Benefit of Albums With Lots of Songs on Them.
  • I’ve pretty much given up on it ever being the picture of the correct Fisher on Last.fm’s chart; it’s always that sunglasses-wearing joker these days. For the record, this is the Fisher I listen to:
The Better Fisher

Next, we have my top albums of 2021:

A few notes on this list:

  • As per usual, the upper portion of this list is dominated by albums with lots of songs on them, which are typically collections/retrospectives. The only albums that get into the top 10 that aren’t albums of this nature are “Creation” by the Pierces, “The Wall” by Pink Floyd (which, being a double album, has plenty of songs on it), the “Silent Hill” game soundtrack (lots of short songs), “Lungs” by Florence + the Machine (which is there because, being the “Deluxe Edition”, it has a bunch of extras), and “Uppers and Downers” by the proper Fisher (which is another double album).
  • The presence of Nena’s “Die Band” on this list, a best-of album which is entirely in German** (it doesn’t even have the English version of “99 Luftballons” on it), can be credited to the amazing timey-wimey Netflix series Dark, which used Nena’s song “Irgendwie, irgendwo, irgendwann” to great effect at the end of one of its episodes. The title translates to “Somehow, somewhere, sometime” which is about the most appropriate title any song associated with Dark could possibly have.

And finally, my top tracks of 2021:

Notes on the top tracks of 2021:

  • Last year, some manner of (likely) scrobbling error caused some songs to record 30 plays for the year, which is pretty much impossible, as I would never play any song every week and a half. That didn’t happen this year, so the numbers are a lot more realistic-looking.
  • This chart is, of course, the only one that’s not affected by The Benefit of Albums With Lots of Songs on Them (although it is affected by The Tyranny of Shuffle Play); and because I do have a tendency to play songs that I like as one-offs now and then, it does accurately reflect some of my very favorite songs, including the following:
“Party Police” by Alvvays***
“The Light Before We Land” by The Delgados****
“Dead Weight” by White Lung
“Kings” by The Pierces

If you subjected yourself to all four of those, you probably noted that one of them is, let’s say, not like the others. (That one would be “Dead Weight” of course.) What can I say? I do have a thing for female singers, but I guess I also have a thing for a solid punk guitar riff now and then …

* Other albums with this structural advantage include “The Essential Daryl Hall & John Oates”, “Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael”, the Silent Hill soundtrack (which is chockablock with many short songs that sound like you would expect songs from a survival-horror video game to sound), “At Worse: The Best of Boy George & Culture Club”, “The Best of the Primitives”, etc. These all turn up on my top albums list every year even if I only listen to them a few times.
** “Die Band” is by no means the only album I have that’s entirely in German, in case you were wondering.
*** “Party Police” is so much one of my favorite songs that after I added the video to this post, I paused writing so I could watch it.
**** I was introduced “The Light Before We Land” because it was used as the theme song to the anime Gunslinger Girl, for some reason. And the astute viewer may notice that all the writing on posters and buildings is in Italian. So, yes, this is an anime that is set in Italy, where everyone speaks Japanese, and whose theme song is by a Scottish rock band. Talk about multicultural …

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