I wasn’t going to do a ‘best of’ list this year. I really haven’t been paying enough attention. Of course, I’ve come across some great music, and can recommend you check some stuff out – but the attention required to put them in some sort of order is beyond me right now – and, of course, most of the music I’ve listened to in 2010 is not from 2010.
So I thought just for the sake of it, I’d dig through my Last.fm profile and make a list of the artists that I’ve listened to most this year. It looks like this – in descending order of most-played.
50 artists that Last.fm has noticed me listening to in 2010:
Humphreys & Keen
Fat Freddy’s Drop
Chase & Status
Nine Inch Nails
Medeski, Martin and Wood
The Cinematic Orchestra
Esbjörn Svensson Trio
The Phantom Band
Bohren & der Club of Gore
The Universal Quartet
Grant Lee Buffalo
There’s a problem with this list. It doesn’t count vinyl – and apart from anything else, I suspect I’ve probably heard more Rickie-Lee Jones than Joni Mitchell over the past 12 months, but that’s only because I’ve been thrashing The Magazine and the self-titled album on my turntable. I’ve also spent more time this year listening to records than ever before – and in fact, it might even start to challenge my iTunes/iPod listening at this rate.
I don’t own a television, but I do own a record player. This is probably significant.
But what’s far more interesting is the Long Tail effect my listening has demonstrated this year. I have heard more artists in 2010 than I think I’ve ever come across before in my life. The sum of all of the things that I’ve only listened to a few times this year vastly outweighs the sum total of the things that appear on the list above. That is, I have spent significantly more time listening to the things that are not on that list than the things that are.
And that’s not just to say that I’ve checked out a whole of new stuff and only listened to it once or twice – I’ve also been going back over all of the music I own and love and bringing it out for a fresh spin. I’ve been particularly checking out some of the more angular, experimental and introspective corners of my jazz library. This has been an uncharacteristically ECM-intensive time – though I did start work on a European jazz research project this year.
All of which means that this was a year of diverse musical experiences. May there be many more like it. In the meantime, if you’re looking for music to try – I can recommend every single one of the artists listed above, all for different reasons, but they certainly all bear repeated listening. I’m sure you’ll find something you’ll like.