As someone who loves discovering new music on a regular basis, and as someone who always needs to have music playing in order to work, pass the time, or function on a basic level, figuring out my favorite music of the year is a difficult task. (The only other list that even rivals in difficulty is the Best TV of the Year list.) Thankfully, Spotify does a helpful roundup of what its users have been listening to throughout the year, which made this list a bit easier to compose.
However, I do take issue with some things that came up on my Spotify Year in Review — especially that my most listened to songs are not necessarily my favorite songs of the year — so I’ve made my own lists. These are my top 5 bands/artists of the year and my top 10 favorite songs (I had to make a lot of really difficult cuts down from 20).
On Dec. 10 ABC’s Nashville and Big Machine Records released the first soundtrack from the show’s second season:The Music of Nashville: Season 2, Volume 1. The season two soundtrack didn’t do as well on the charts–only reaching number four on Billboard’s US Soundtracks–but that might be a result of the show’s diminished focus on music. In season two Nashville has become less concerned with cramming 4-7 songs into a single episode and has paid more attention to the plotlines of the series, which I’m totally okay with.
Photo via EW
Midway through the first season of ABC’s Nashville, I counted down my top five favorite songs so far in the season. Now that we’re more than halfway through the second season of Nashville, I figured it’s time to take a look back at some of the music from the show. Despite recording and releasing fewer tracks in the second season, I’ve found that I like the music on Nashville just as much–maybe even more.
Photo via Wet Paint
As far as trends within my favorite songs, I’ve noticed I really enjoy the younger artists from the show like Will Lexington and Scarlett O’Connor rather than Rayna James–who isn’t on here at all, sorry Rayna fans! The music this season has also been spread out amongst the artists rather than having Rayna and Juliette Barnes sing all the songs. I’ve been disappointed by the lack of duets between Scarlett and Gunnar Scott–though that’s to be expected after they broke up last season. However, I’m excited to see more from Scarlett as she begins working with Liam McGuinnis (Michiel Huisman) on her first album. I’d also like to see more from Scarlett’s on-again, off-again best friend Zoey Dalton, who has had one single this season and a duet with Gunnar. Perhaps in the coming episodes we’ll get even more great music, but for now, these are my ten favorite songs of season two.
Every year, Oprah Winfrey puts together a list of her favorite things–aptly called “Oprah’s Favorite Things”–that’s meant as a gift guide for everyone. Since this blog is more about books, music, movies, and television rather than ‘things’ (also since the holidays are over,) I thought it might be fun to discuss my favorite media from the past 12 months. As a year, 2013 was pretty good in terms of the big blockbuster films, latest installments of franchises, new television series, music discovery, and delving into new book series.
This year alone I tackled The Maze Runner trilogy, the Percy Jackson series, and A Song of Ice and Fire. According to Spotify, I have 443 tracks on my 2013 playlist, as opposed to 220 songs on the 2012 mix. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to catch every film I wanted to in theaters, but I saw a majority of them after they were released on DVD. However, I did watch almost every new pilot that aired this year, which is an accomplishment in and of itself. Now it’s time to take a look back at the books, music, movies, and TV shows that I discovered in 2013–all of which I highly recommend.
I have applauded and raved about Songza, but more recently I’ve been getting into 8tracks. (Don’t worry Songza, I’ll never leave you forever.) The trick with 8tracks is finding good playlists to listen to, which can be hard because there are so, so, so, SO many.
The way I got into 8tracks was through people I follow on Tumblr. I started noticing these playlists popping up on my Tumblr dashboard with cool graphically designed cover art that had some really great music. So I began listening to the playlists, which made me start looking for more playlists and before I knew it, I was hooked. I’m still wary of finding good mixes on the 8tracks site, especially since it’s difficult for users to display the song listing. (In fact, it’s impossible without listening to the mix unless the user includes it somehow.) But as long as the people I follow on Tumblr keep reblogging good mixes, I’ll keep discovering new music to love. Here are some of my favorite playlists I’ve found so far.
Music plays a pretty big part in E4’s seriesMy Mad Fat Diary, though it didn’t quite make it onto my list of Why ‘My Mad Fat Diary’ Is the Best New Show of 2013. Music got lumped in with all the other 90s aspects of the show–like clothes and slang. But after rewatching My Mad Fat Diary again (for the third time,) I realized just how instrumental the soundtrack is to the characters and plot of the show. Rae uses music as an initiation into a new group of friends, she bonds with another character in particular over music, and the soundtrack helps to set the tone of many scenes throughout the series. After finding Tumblr user Cliffpantones’s gifset of the six best music moments from season one, I thought I’d try to come up with my own list.
Check out all those Oasis shirts. Photo courtesy of Facebook.
Although it’s been six months since I declared MMFD would be the best show to premiere in 2013 (and we still haven’t quite gotten through fall premiere season,) I still believe the show has the best television soundtrack of the year, if not of the past five years. You can check out all 113 tracks from the show in my playlist: My Mad Fat Diary MegaPlaylist. From Oasis to Blur, The Cure to Radiohead, whoever picks the music for MMFD should win some kind of award. Not only is the music quality, each song also fits perfectly into whatever scene in which it’s featured. So, while I rewatched MMFD recently, I took note of every scene that was perfectly matched with a 90s tune and narrowed it down to 10–which was difficult–in order to celebrate the best music moments from season one.
‘Hercules’ premiered in 1997 and starred Tate Donovan, Danny DeVito, & Susan Egan. (Photo courtesy of Disney.)
Recently, I re-watched Hercules, which was one of my favorite Disney movies when I was a kid. For those who have Netflix Instant, how great is it that so many Disney movies are available on Instant? I know it’s because the two companies struck a deal back in December, but I’m so glad the viewers are get something as well. Since my family’s collection of Disney movies consists almost exclusively of VHS tapes and we don’t actually own a working VHS player anymore, it’s nice to be able to watch some of my favorites anytime I’d like. Sure, ABC Family or the Disney Channel occasionally decides to play some of the Disney flicks I grew up with, but sometimes it’s nice to come home from a long day of work, have a drink, and sing along to Hercules at top volume.
My rewatch experience got me to remembering all the music from those Disney movies to which I still know all the words. There are plenty of playlists on Pandora, Songza, and Spotify devoted exclusively to those songs, such as “Disney” curated by my friend Monica. I also remember arguing with friends when I was younger over which Disney songs were the best, although movies like The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, and Mulan always made the list–to be honest though, my friends and I still have these discussions. So for a bit of nostalgia, I decided to put together my list of all-time favorite Disney songs.
I’ve saved over 40 playlists to my favorites. Yikes. (Photo courtesy of Songza.)
About a year ago, I wrote about Songza, the fantastical wonderland of curated playlists created by professional music nerds for music nerds like myself. One of the most unique aspects of Songza, is the ability to choose any time of the week, then an activity, then a genre of music, then a particular playlist to fit your needs. It’s a wonderful way to discover new music by finding the perfect soundtrack for your day. Or, there are plenty of mixes full of well-known songs, contemporary chart toppers, and classics that are sure to be familiar, and might even be on your current Spotify playlist. In addition to being a super-cool website, Songza is also an extremely popular music app that’s great for any music lover on the go. So, since it’s been a year since my last list of great Songza playlists, here are some more I’ve discovered.