According to my Spotify Year in Review, I listened to well over 130,000 minutes of music. That doesn’t include the hours I spent listening to records, or the radio, or podcasts. I take in a lot of media, but I didn’t think it was nearly that much. I figured since I clocked in so many hours of streaming, I should probably put my two cents out there in what the year looked like musically. I shared with Atwood what I thought the album of the year was — but you’ll have to check that out to see what I thought. I’ll link it here when that gets published. Here, though, we’ll break it down by month, and what struck me as big for that period of time.
Hamilton — Original Cast Recording
The past few years over the few days it takes to ring in the New Year, I spend the time with one of my closest and oldest drum corps friends, Kayla. The last two years, she’s introduced me to new musicals I end up being obsessed with for the year. Last year, it was In The Heights. This year, it was the musical that’s taken the world by storm, Hamilton. This bad boy has been on repeat periodically throughout the year, but mostly during January. Easily.
Galway Girl — Steve Earle
Since I spent most of the month traveling, and much of that in Ireland, this was a song that we’d listen to as we got ready for the day or a night out and want to channel our inner “Irish bar music.” “Galway Girl” will forever remind me of the craziness that happened over those two weeks abroad this year.
Side Pony — Lake Street Dive
This is another defining album of the year for me, and I wish I could list a different song every month (because really, that’s what it meant to me), but I think that’d be obsessive. The two tracks I’d like to draw attention to are the title track (“side pony Sunday became a weekly holiday for me this year), and “Mistakes,” (which was my most-streamed song this year on Spotify).
So Damn Fast — Lawrence
Another February discovery, but I found myself playing this jam almost every day of the month. I’m not sure why, but it’s one of those easy-listening songs that’s got some soul and I identified a lot with the lyrics at the time.
Quinn XCII has been a band I’ve grown to love throughout the year. I was introduced to his music from a guy at Spirit, and as the year has gone one and my ear has gotten more attuned to this vibe-y indie-electro music, I’ve found more and more value in these tunes. So, although I wish I could list a lot of songs from Quinn XCII, I’m just going to keep them in February, since that’s when the discovery happened, and share a few of my favorite tracks… “Straightjacket,” “Full Circle,” and “Demon.”
Legally Blonde — Original Cast Recording
Over spring break this year, I got into a Broadway kick. I found bootlegs of a few musicals on YouTube and filled my evenings at home watching these shows I wish I could catch live. After that, I couldn’t stop streaming my “showtunes” playlist. Legally Blonde is probably the soundtrack I enjoyed the most of the handful I fell in love with, and I still like to belt “So Much Better” and “Chip On My Shoulder” when the apartment is empty.
Thanks to streaming The Current every morning, I found EL VY. Towards the end of 2015, I had also discovered The National is a similar way, and since EL VY sounded very similar (well, duh, they have the same frontman), but slightly more upbeat. April was also a relatively good month, so I didn’t feel the need to listen to the more down-beat of The National, but still wanted that sound of the lead vocal’s voice. Maybe? Does that even make sense? Either way, EL VY found their way to my stream pretty frequently in April.
Home From Home — Roo Panes
This one is thanks to the Discover Playlist on Spotify — and it came in at the perfect time. This one popped up the Monday before April camp for Spirit, and with the chorus repeating “In you I found my home from home/I left all that I knew/For a love that I know,” it put how I feel about Spirit into a song, and I had it repeating throughout the last band weekend before we moved in that summer.
May brought a lot of stress with school, and in the heavy parts of the projects (when I wasn’t listening through audio for the documentary), I turned to bluegrass. Particularly, Nickel Creek and the Punch Brothers. This could also be because I got to catch the Punch Brothers’ show at Thalia Hall the day after my semester officially concluded — read more about that incredible experience here.
Amber — 311
This isn’t anything new by any means, but “Amber” turned into one of the defining songs of spring training for Spirit of Atlanta this year. It served as the wake-up song a couple times, and we would listen to it almost every day during breakfast. There’s something soothing about the surf-rock feel that makes it possible to break yourself down over the course of a few hours and build yourself back up on hour-long meal breaks just to keep repeating the process over again.
Ocean Avenue — Yellowcard
Most of my music consumption over the summer happened during stretch block, or when I’d take over the speaker at meals. This song ended up being one of the ones that I added to that playlist, thanks to Courtney, and one that the corps could stand. It’s basically in the same classification as “Amber” is for me, and every time I hear it I’ll be taken back to middle-of-nowhere Georgia, hoping the breakfast line will die down enough to inhale a few bites of eggs before morning rehearsal.
Rock Your Body — Justin Timberlake
There also came a point in all-days where our staff left it up to us (leadership) to do warm-up with the guard. But, being performing members ourselves, we needed to also spin. Hannah ended up turning on this song one day and it worked perfectly with one of our equipment warm-ups that we’d do daily. Now, every time I hear this song come on anywhere, I’m immediately taken back to Luella high school and standing in block doing spins with body. Sometimes I can’t help but start to do tendus and counting out the spins, too. Ahhh, color guard problems.
Bleed to Love Her — Fleetwood Mac
This was one of Courtney’s favorites since forever, but we got to hear it a lot more during stretch block in July. I think this one kind of turned into a staple for the 2016 Diamonds too, and about half the time I hear it, I can’t help but well up a little bit. I also listened to this song quite a bit right after tour, so I’m also taken back to those post-tour depression feelings. If I close my eyes, I can almost pretend that I’m back in stretch block somewhere in Florida and I can hear Courtney yelling “BE NICE TO PEEP!!!” in the background.
A Summer in Ohio — Anna Kendrick
The color guard loves me for this one. After I saw The Last Five Years this past winter, and discovered that this song exists, I knew immediately that we’d have to listen to it every day we were in Ohio this past summer. Unfortunately, we only got the chance to hear it once during stretch, but I definitely over-hyped it on the bus leading up to Ohio. At least I know I got them sentimentally attached to it, though, because the day after we parted ways for the end of the season, I got about a dozen snapchats of them listening to the song with tears in their eyes and a caption reading “miss you.” If I got known for anything this summer, it certainly had to be my music taste.
Fallin’ Apart — The All-American Rejects
This classic tune falls into the same category of “Ocean Avenue,” but it was on a rehearsal day in New York that I remembered it existed, because I kept saying something along the lines of “my body is falling apart,” and suddenly couldn’t get this track out of my head. It’s since found its way onto a handful of playlists, and I couldn’t not include it on my year-long reflection of the tunes that shaped the year.
Quinine — Dessa
Released early in August, I got a notification from Spotify that Dessa (a Minnesota-based female rapper), had a new single available. I immediately connected to the crappy bus wifi and downloaded the song at an alarmingly possible rate, and consumed it immediately. It quickly became a staple on my personal playlist (I don’t think I made the color guard listen to it at all), because it was too curious to me. What even is quinine? Later in the year, I still couldn’t stop listening to it, and it ended up being the first song I did a semiotic deconstruction on, and it eventually turned into an article for Atwood. You can check that out here.
The only “discovery” I was able to really make over the summer was introduced to the hornline from one of our visual techs, and it was introduced to me via association. Chalked up at the time to “mocha choca bullshit,” Jon Bellion became one of my most-played artists over the course of September. I slowly discovered other gems on his album The Human Condition (June), but “Overwhelming” and “Morning in America” were two of my favorites. I even deconstructed one of them, and later turned that into an article for Atwood, which you can read here.
Archie, Marry Me — Alvvays
One morning late in September, The Current played “Archie, Marry Me” by Alvvays. Even though the song was released in 2014, and I had known it existed since then, for some reason it felt like a little musical re-awakening. I suddenly couldn’t stop listening to the track and I eventually fell in love with the entire self-titled album. “Archie, Marry Me” continues to be one of my favorite songs I got stuck on in 2016, and it is one of the few that I still listen to on a daily basis that isn’t old yet. I also did a semiotic deconstruction on this, but it wasn’t turned into an article. Maybe I’ll share it here sometime — you’ll just have to wait and see.
Thanks to a partnership between Atwood and LiveSynphon, early in October I got about a dozen different artists/bands shoved in my face. My favorite out of that bunch was The Roosevelts, and I got stuck on their music for most of the month. At least check out “Runaround.”
Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales — Car Seat Headrest
Another discovery made from The Current in September, but the plays really rolled in during October. I also deconstructed this song since I couldn’t get it out of my head, and I remain blown away at the depth and meaning behind it. I also quickly became a fan of the song because I appreciated the transition from the soft-rock to the more aggressive feel the song gave as it progressed. Honestly, this is probably one of my highlight songs that was released in 2016. I haven’t dove into the entire album yet, but this song makes me want to.
Drive it Like You Stole It — Sing Street
Another pinnacle moment in music this year was the collaborative playlist one of the girls from Spirit and I made. We found ourselves sharing so much music that we figured it would be easier to just throw it all in one place — and this opened the door to so much more musical discoveries, including this jam. I forced my radio department co-workers to jam to this bad boy with me more than once, and it’s still got a home on the running playlist.
Wow — Beck
The collaborative playlist lasted well into November, and another great gem that Alice added was this tune. It lived on repeat for a few days, and it’s generally just a great movement tune. Once again, it has found a home on the running playlist (which, if you couldn’t tell, is one of my most coveted playlists), and it takes me back to the November craziness that was continually running from one job to another, going to class, and doing homework in the evenings and whenever I could find the time. This was also a song that got me through one of the most difficult times of the year — the uncertainty of whether I’d get to march my age-out or not.
Also in November, I found out that I’d be going to the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas in March 2017. Of course, I immediately started scouring the line-up so far, and one of the first bands I was able to discover and fall in love with has been Native Young, a group from South Africa. They’ve got some pretty neat jams, and I thoroughly enjoy whenever they pop up on shuffle from the “yee yeet” playlist.
The Hamilton Mixtape
Wrapping up the year of music has been difficult, but the last star in this system would be the Hamilton Mixtape. It’s basically a collection of music inspired by Hamilton done by a ton of really awesome people — including a familiar Minnesota voice, Dessa.
Once again, it’s been an incredibly busy year, and it’s hard to believe it’s wrapping up in just a few days. Here’s to more music discoveries, more live shows, and hopefully some more published musical musings. Stay with us.
(PS — I’ve created a playlist with all of the songs mentioned in this blog. Check it out here!)