Last.FM tells us who we listen to the most. Isn’t that what “favorite” means?
We all have our favorite bands. Most of us probably have a lot of favorite bands, in fact, and if you’re like me, that honor has probably been held by different artists throughout your life. My first favorite, back when I was in junior high, was Elton John (the wonderful Captain Fantastic, still one of my all-time favorites, came out just as I was wrapping up 8th grade). Then, when I was a freshman, the radio exploded with this sound unlike anything I’d ever heard before, and at that point I became a rabid Queen fan.
When I hit college, I found myself in a fraternity filled with unrepentant music freaks. The range of our collective taste was matched only by the intensity of our passion for it. That said, it’s probably safe to say that the dominant strain of tuneage around the Wake Forest ΘX house from 1979-1984 was Punk/New Wave (and all its related iterations, like Ska, Power Pop, and whatever you choose to call the wack-ass art school avant-party-pop of bands like The B-52s). Later in that time frame we began hearing the emergence of “College Radio,” the movement that would establish itself as Alternative. Which is to say, this was where a lot of us first heard REM, INXS and U2.
My absolute, hands-down favorite band in college was The Police, although they were by no means the only act on the playlist. I loved Squeeze, Elvis Costello, The Ramones, The Cars, Joe Jackson, The Romantics and The Records, to name a few, and this was also about the time I discovered Rick Springfield, who remains my favorite Power Pop artist to this day. My suitemates probably never want to hear him again, though – when I want to I can play some shit to death.
After college, though, The Police were winding down just as U2 was staking claim to the title of Best Band in the World, and if you ask me today who my favorite band is, they’re the answer, even though they haven’t done anything especially noteworthy in over 20 years.
What do we actually mean when we say “favorite band”? Well, at one level it’s a purely subjective response, right? But I have also suggested, from time to time, that there might be a way to quantify “favorite.” To wit, your favorite band is the one you listen to the most.
Which brings me to Last.FM, the Web site that keeps track of what you listen to. Actually, it does a good bit more than that, but I love the charts section, which lets me review who I’ve been listening to – this week, this month, this year, or all time. Some times I surprise myself. For instance, I know I really like London Grammar, whom I recently discovered. But it was only a few minutes ago, when I looked at the chart for 2014, that I realized they’re #4 for the year so far. Have I spun that disc that many times? Apparently yes.
Reviewing the charts can also be the source of cognitive dissonance. Even guilt. As in, I love Band X – but I hardly ever listen to them. Do I not love them after all? Wait – I should listen to them more so I can get their score up to where it belongs. Yeah, I do this kind of thing to myself. It’s a sickness.
I thought it might be fun, this TunesDay, to trot our my Last.FM all-time chart and share it with you. And also to invite you to share yours with us.
Here’s mine, with comments to follow.
Last.FM has limitations, of course. For one thing, while it counts what I listen to on my computer as well as what I play on my iPod and iPhone, it has no way of accounting for it when I play CDs – as in, when I’m driving around in my truck. If it did, the numbers for U2, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Jason Isbell, The Raveonettes and The Killers would be higher. (I played the absolute shizzle out of the last Killers disc while driving around, so add 200 to the tally. Also, I have in my possession a copy of the forthcoming Jeffrey Dean Foster CD, and that’s 200-300 more for him, as well. Finally, I listen to music as I go to sleep, and most nights for the past year or three the CD of choice has been one of the two Raison d’Etre discs I own. So add another thousand to their total over the past five years, probably.)
And this is only since I signed up for Last.FM a few years ago, obviously. That Queen count would be thousands of plays higher if they had a time machine function that could go back and capture everything since I first got my hands on A Night at the Opera.
Also, Last.FM doesn’t add up bands and the solo artists that emerged from them. For instance, The Pinetops are just outside my top 100 with 255 plays. They were Foster’s band and if you add those numbers to Jeff’s solo work he shoots well inside the top 20.
So nothing’s perfect.
Anyway, that’s my Last.FM top 100. If you have an account there, feel free to share your own results and friend me while you’re at it.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia