Does iTunes truly reflect what we listen to on a regular basis? I decided to find out if that was truly the case.
I have had an iTunes account for several years. I almost exclusively use it to upload, purchase and play songs randomly. I don’t bother with much else regarding iTunes, which maybe it would be disappointed to hear (but I doubt it).
I am not much for playlists, since my patience level for such endeavors are minimal at best. As a result I have barely paid any attention to any iTunes self-created lists such as its Genius Playlist, Recently Played or its tracking of my ‘Top 25 Most Played’ based on my iTunes Library.
I finally decided to check my ‘most played’ list to see what songs iTunes data had determined to be my Top 25 versus what I thought would be on the list.
I was very surprised to see that a bunch of my popular artists were MIA from the list. Sade. Blind Willie Johnson. Depeche Mode. Maverick Sabre. Sam Cooke. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ Movie Soundtrack (don’t ask). Nneka. Tori Amos. Journey. Florence & the Machine. Marc Cohn. Note: I do listen to some of these artists outside iTunes through other apps such as YouTube, Pandora, Soundcloud and Spotify.
Even more surprising was that there are songs on the list that I had no idea that I listened to that much. Also, there were a few that I’m sure made the ‘most played’ cut simply because I just didn’t skip over it after hearing a song I had previously selected. All that being said, most of the songs on the list are ones that I do enjoy listening to regularly; some a tad incessantly.
Below are my top 25 ‘most played’ songs (ranked #25 to #1) along with commentary, links to artist profiles and songs for your listening pleasure.
FYI: I did my best to find videos that were free of advertisements. Initially I had planned to use music sharing app such as Soundcloud or Spotify or WordPress’ audio files set-up. Unfortunately, Soundcloud and Spotify didn’t have most of my songs in their respective catalogs (no surprise there) and WordPress’ system didn’t mesh with my desired visual aesthetics for this blog post.
Time to start the countdown or as Referee Judge Mills Lane from ‘Celebrity Death Match’ would say “Let’s get it on!”
25. ‘Hiroshima’ (2002) – Bryan Ferry
I am a big, big Bryan Ferry fan. I would have been absolutely shocked if one of his songs hadn’t made this list. This is easily my favorite song from his album ‘Frantic.’ I listen to a lot of Ferry’s solo music and a good portion of his work with his former group, Roxy Music. But this song is the one I play the most. It is spacey, oddly robotic, yet soaring at times. It doesn’t get its due from Ferry fans.
24. ‘Darshan’ (2001) – B21
Not surprised this song made it on this list. I first heard it while watching the movie ‘Bend It Like Beckham.’ It’s one of two songs that I really like from a solid movie soundtrack. Its exuberance will get your hips moving, even if you don’t know the Punjabi lyrics. It makes me smile, especially when I’m dragging my feet. The day when I will be able to sing the lyrics to this song successfully will be a good one.
23. ‘Murder’ (1997) – Alana Davis
I didn’t think that I listened to this song this much. Davis is most known for her song ‘32 Flavors‘ but to me she is much more than that. The lyrics and vibe (fingers snapping, simple guitar strumming) to this song are strong; soaked in feelings of dread and paranoia. It makes for a heady mix. Too bad she was a bit before her time musically. Davis probably would’ve made a bigger music mark in our current digital music age.
22. ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ (1995) – Radiohead
I like this group, but I wouldn’t have guessed that one of their songs would have made this list. Then again I do sing to this song whenever I hear it because of the poignant and quietly raging lyrics. I especially like when lead singer Thom Yorke’ voice starts to rise, then falls as he sings “But I can’t help the feeling. I could blow through the ceiling. If I just turn and run.” It is a great song from a solid sophomore album.
21. ‘Ruiner (Live, 2009)’ – Nine Inch Nails
‘Ruiner’ is a recent download/addition to my iTunes account, a song that I have played almost obsessively. So its addition to this list is a given. This is a live 2009 version that I recently discovered via YouTube, which has now become my preferred version of this song. Hell, it’s almost coming close to being my favorite NIN song, but I still enjoy ‘March of the Pigs‘ a bit more. Whenever I hear this version of ‘Ruiner’ my head and body rocks out hard while I sing the lyrics along with NIN founder/lead singer Trent Reznor.
20. ‘Rain On Me’ (2003) – Ashanti
I haven’t listened to this song in a while, so seeing it on the list was unexpected. I had assumed that ‘Only You‘ would have made the list, since I do prefer it over ‘Rain.’ Nevertheless, I can’t complain about this song making the cut since it is a good one. Plus you can’t go wrong with sampling The Look of Love‘ by Issac Hayes. Ashanti doesn’t have a strong voice, but she puts it to good use on this track.
19. ‘How Much I Feel’ (1978) – Ambrosia
There is no doubt that I play this song way too much, which iTunes has confirmed. Unfortunately, 1970s soft rock gets a bad rap, which has caused many to overlook some of the great songs that came out of the era and genre. This song has it all, harmonizing vocals, heartfelt emotion and lyrics that tell a love story starting from the middle to the end. I love the part when David Pack sings, practically laments “Then you both realize. Just how foolish you’ve been. And you try to make amends. But you’re better off as friends.” That is some serious songwriting.
18. ‘Rolling In the Deep’ (2011) – Adele
I thought this song would be in a higher slot since I ran it into the ground and then some. I had to deselect it from my iTunes Library so that I wouldn’t end up causing the song to wear out its welcome. Adele has had other hits, but this is still my favorite. I just love the 1960s vibe to it and the toughness of her vocals. She sounds like a woman, not a girlish pop star or some manufactured boy band singing and prancing obliviously about like show horses. Adele is simply fierce.
17. ‘Inner Smile’ (2000) – Texas
Definitely a ‘go-to’ song for me whenever I need a mood pick-me-up. It’s also another song from the ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ movie soundtrack. It’s simply infectious and should have been a big hit in the United States. Guess an English band named ‘Texas’ that sings pop/R&B was probably a hard sale in the States. That’s too bad because it’s a damn good song that you can sing and dance to and will make you feel better afterwards.
16. ‘Fallen’ (2003) – Mya
Not sure how this song made the list. I’m not saying that I don’t like it, but I don’t like it this much. I’m positive that this song’s addition to the list is pure happenstance in that it’s just been played randomly by iTunes. Nevertheless, it’s a nice song that has an atmospheric vibe to it, which sadly, isn’t a style you hear much of in the R&B/HipHop music world. Mya can sing, but really hasn’t been provided enough songs to show off her vocal pipes.
15. ‘Safe From Harm’ (1991) – Massive Attack
Another recent iTunes addition so I’ve had it in heavy rotation, therefore its mention on this list is pro forma. ‘Safe from Harm’ is a moody, sexy song – a Massive Attack specialty. This song is in a tie with ‘Joy Luck Club‘ as one of my top songs by them. I’ve had it on replay for quite some time. Shara Nelson’s vocals are strong and sexy and Robert Del Naja’s rap is crisp and hypnotic, both a perfect match to the music.
14. ‘Love Rears Up Its Ugly Head’ (1990) – Living Colour
I honestly can’t recall the last time I’ve listened to this song, yet it’s somehow in my top 25. This act was way before it’s time. Hell, they’re probably still before their time. People just couldn’t get their heads around a Black music group that played a mix of alternative rock, heavy metal and hip-hop. ‘Cult of Personality’ is still their biggest hit, but I don’t think it represents them well as this song does. When Corey Glover, the lead singer, starts wailing “Oh no, no, no, no. Not that again…” along with the loud and striking guitar work – you will recognize this group’s awesomeness.
13. ‘I Can’t Tell You Why’ (1994) – Brownstone
Another ‘high song rank’ surprise. Then again I do have a weakness for good cover versions (the 1979 original was written and sung by The Eagles) such as this one. What makes ‘I Can’t Tell You Why’ a stand-out is that Brownstone makes this song their own. If it wasn’t for the lyrics you would think it’s an original. There are various versions of this song, but this one (official video version – not on the album) is the best. I love when contralto Nichole Gilbert starts semi-scatting the lyrics then repeats in a deeper voice the line ‘Why don’t you please tell me why’ near the end. It’s too bad the original line-up of this R&B group (from their debut album ‘From the Bottom Up‘) didn’t remain intact. Brownstone would’ve put a lot of female group acts to shame. They were full-throttled, talented women (not sex kittens or wannabe adults) who could sing their asses off.
12. ‘Remedy’ (1992) – The Black Crowes
Was a tad surprised that this song by the Crowes made the list. I thought that ‘Sometimes Salvation‘ would have made the cut instead. However, after ‘Salvation’ this is one of my top songs by them. ‘Remedy’ is a bluesy, rock song that is stripped down to its basics: strong lead vocals, slinky backing vocals joined by a tough guitar sound. This song is from their should-be-considered-a-classic album ‘The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion‘ one of the rare albums I can listen to in its entirety.
11. ‘The Main Thing’ (1982) – Roxy Music
I absolutely knew Roxy Music would be on this list! ‘The Main Thing’ is from their ‘Avalon’ album. The album title/song was a big hit, but I gravitated more towards the quiet, brooding, techno sound of ‘The Main Thing.’ The song is short on actual lyrics but long on creating a sound that is eery, like a drug-induced Gregorian chant. People either get Roxy Music or they don’t. If you’re a member of the former you are lucky indeed.
10. ‘Gold Dust Woman’ (1977) – Fleetwood Mac
Of course this song made this list. If I had to pick a song that sums up what I love about Fleetwood Mac it would be this one. Stevie Nick’s scratchy and evocative singing. Lyndsey Buckingham’s crazy guitar work and backing vocals. Mick Fleetwood’s pounding drum work. John McVee’s deep bass strumming and Christie McVee’s harmonizing adding depth to Nick’s vocals. It all comes together on a distinctive song that keeps ramping up until the band just leaves it all in the dust (pun intended).
9. ‘Life’s What You Make It’ (1985) – Talk Talk
I simply like the lyrics and the piercing, soaring guitar work on this song. Therefore I listen to it a lot, hence its placement on this list. The lyrics aren’t that complex, “Baby, life’s what you make it. Celebrate it. Anticipate it. Yesterday’s faded. Nothing can change it. Life’s what you make it” nor lengthy. Yet, the way Mark Davis Hollis sings the words somehow adds more significance to them. Makes you pause and think after the song is over.
8. ‘Homesick’ (2009) – Ryan Kickland
This song is stark and beautiful and will stick around with you long after you’ve heard it. I was watching an episode of ‘Justified’ a few years ago when I first heard this quiet, twangy, fantastic song. I love Kickland’s haunting vocals and the simple, yet sad sound of the guitar. This is a woefully overlooked song that deserves a long moment in the sun.
I’m not a Minaj fan since she raps with too much manufactured braggadocio and not enough heat. Yet, I must really like this Minaj song since it made the Top 10. The best parts of ‘Moment’ is when she’s not rapping because then she is letting you know what she’s feeling. Hell, Drake out-raps her on her own song. Nevertheless it’s a jam that I like listening to, especially when I’m driving in my car with the windows down.
6. ‘Out of My Head’ (2013) – John Newman
I have become a John Newman fan over the past eighteen months. I would’ve been shocked if one of his songs hadn’t made this list. Though I did think that his acoustic/live version of ‘Not Giving In‘ would’ve beat out this song, but apparently I was wrong. Newman has a distinctive singing style which inexplicably have caused some people to assume that he’s a black guy. The ethnicity assumptions are a result of Newman’s music style, which is heavily-influenced by old school R&B. This song has a semi-epic orchestral feel to it that goes well with his mournful vocals. Love the song’s chorus: “To shut out feeling lonely; I get out of my head. Lost everything around me. Not dealing with it well. To shut out feeling lonely; I get out of my head. Why would you want to love somebody when love hurts in the end?” Hope he sticks around for a bit.
5. ‘Hide and Go Seek’ (1967) – Bunker Hill
Hill’s song gets me nodding my head every single time, which is why I listen to it almost daily. I just love the exuberance of the song, Hill’s energy and the back-and-forth response he has with the back-up singers. The lyrics are basic and goofy such as “Went down the road. The road was muddy. I stubbed my toe. My toe was hurting. Who all hid (yeah). If you ain’t hid. You better holler Billy goat (baaaa).” I’m forever thankful to the movie ‘Hairspray’ (1988 original directed by John Waters, not the 2007 remake/musical version) for helping me discover this freakin’ wonderful song.
4. ‘Love Me Again’ (2013) – John Newman
I have played this song so much that eventually my preteen son knew most of the words and came to like it. Therefore I had no doubt that it would be on this list. It was the first song I ever heard by him and turned me into a Newman acolyte. It starts out strong with the words “Know I’ve done wrong, left your heart torn. Is that what devils do? Took you so long, where only fools gone. I shook the angel in you!” and just keeps getting better. The Motown vibe and his throwback, yet original vocals makes for a very good song that you will have on repeat.
3. ‘I Know There’s Something Going On’ (1982) – Frida
I was really shocked to see this song on the list – let alone ranked this high – though I did play the hell out of it for a while. This was Frida’s (Anni-Frid Lyngstad), formerly of ABBA, big solo hit. I have always loved the vocals and drums (courtesy of Phil Collins from Genesis) on this song. This song popped into my head out of nowhere a year ago, so I downloaded it. It definitely has a 1980s song vibe, but don’t let that deter you. When Frida sings the words “I know there’s something going on” and you hear the drums banging along with her, you will think ‘This is a cool song.’
2. ‘Dying For Your Love’ (2011) – Frank Ocean
I thought that this song would have topped this list because I have yet to get enough of it. I have played this song so many times back-to-back; just leaving the repeat button on to make it easier for me to listen to it almost continually. It has a gorgeous, dreamlike sound aided by Ocean’s soporific vocals. The song’s hooks are so personal: “On the same side of the battle. I’m on the front line of disaster now. All make sense, I’ve put it together. Guess what we have doesn’t matter. You have me dying. Every night, just because. You have me fighting. Every night, to prove my love. Cause we never get enough of fighting. In the club, I’m dying for your love. I don’t know what you want. You got me fighting. Every night, to prove my love.” This is his best song though he has other strong, potent and more well-known contenders.
1. ‘Earned It’ (2015) – The Weeknd
My number one Most Played Song’ according to iTunes! As much as I like this song the fact that it’s my ‘most played’ has me flummoxed. I haven’t listened to it regularly in months. I can only deduce that its placement on this list is because of its heavy play rotation; some of it purposely, most of it by random. This song is from the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey’ which I haven’t seen nor do I own the soundtrack. The first time I heard this song was on Pandora and the rest is history. I like the overlapping orchestral instruments, the soft and emotional vocals with a mild techno/auto-tune sound. Not sure if this song has long enough music legs in that I won’t eventually discontinue listening to it. But for now iTunes has spoken about its musical hierarchy and tenacity.
So – that’s my list. What’s on your iTunes ‘Top 25 Most Played’ list?
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The debt ceiling soap opera that swirled around the White House and Congress has finally come to a crappy conclusion. However, the political drama has left a bad taste in in the mouths of many Americans. We have been left wondering, again, why it seems that our elected politicians are not listening to us, but are listening to the wrong people. As a result, we’re feeling down in the dumps, cynical and just a bit angry. And not just about the debt ceiling.
When you’re in a bad mood, you try to find ways to make you feel better or you may fallback on tried and true methods. I usually feel better when my husband hugs me, seeing my son happy and healthy or talking to my mom. My other bad mood busters are more mundane such as reading, walking or sitting out on my balcony late at night staring into the sky.
However, one of the easiest and quickest methods to lift my spirits (even if for only a little while) is music. Whether it’s the lyrics, the vocalist or the beat – certain songs just make me feel better.
So for those of you in need of chasing some blues away, here are several of my ‘get-out-of-a bad-mood’ songs. Lord knows we all need a moment of solace from the the debt ceiling mess, the state of the U.S. economy or whatever else that has been pissing us off these past several months – too many to mention here.
Take a listen, I’m sure one of these songs will make you feel better.
Proud – Heather Smalls http://tinysong.com/I521 When she sings the lyrics “We need a change. Yeah. Do it today. Yeah. I can feel my spirits rising” it will make you want to do some good.
Man in the Mirror – Michael Jackson http://tinysong.com/I4Re The words are highly idealistic, but what’s wrong with that? Plus, he sounds like he is really feeling the words to this song, you will feel them as well.
With A Little Help From My Friends -Joe Cocker http://tinysong.com/7cow All about how you can get by, get high (it was the 60s) and gonna try because your friends will be there with you. It’s actually a cover version of a Beatles song, but this one is very different and much, much better.
Optimistic – Sounds of Blackness http://tinysong.com/oMPG “You can win as long as you keep your head to the sky.” It’s just an outright positive, mood-altering song.
Beautiful Day – U2 http://tinysong.com/xAf8 Great song from start to finish. “It’s a beautiful day. Sky falls, you feel like it’s a beautiful day. Don’t let it get away.” In other words, find a way to count your blessings.
Everybody Dance – Ru Paul http://tinysong.com/evt0 A straight up feel-good dance song. It takes me to my happy place.
The Pressure (Part 2) – Sounds of Blackness http://tinysong.com/gJDX “When my burdens get too heavy. He’s right there to bare the load. To give me strength and comfort anytime I need relief from the pressures of the world. I just believe.” A deeply, moving song. Note: Avoid the Part 1 version – it’s loud and terrible.
Anytime You Need A Friend – Mariah Carey http://tinysong.com/AnFe This is when she used to sing. The friend could be an earthly one or a higher being, whichever floats your boat. It makes you feel that there is someone out there who has your back.
You’ve Got A Friend – James Taylor http://tinysong.com/IcfG A quiet song, but it reminds you that many of us have people out there who can help, if you just ask.
Ain’t Nobody – Chakka Khan http://tinysong.com/AEBs A classic song about how you feel (or should feel) when you fall in love. You can hear the happiness in her voice. A sing-out-loud song.
Benny and the Jets – Elton John http://tinysong.com/qW26 “She’s got electric boots, a mohair suit. You know I read it in a magazine. B-B-B-Bennie and the Jets.” I don’t know what it means and somehow it doesn’t matter. I like singing this song – it makes me smile.
This is a different type of blog than I normally post. It started as a result of a Twitter conversation I had with a follower who mentioned that he needed to add some hard rock to his playlist. I thought about just tweeting him a few suggested songs, but it turned into this blog. I hope this helps him out and maybe a few others . . .
I grew up listening to whatever my mom was listening to on the radio or playing on the record player. Aretha Franklin. Frank Sinatra. Earth, Wind & Fire. Boston. Bing Crosby. B.B. King. Mamas and the Papas. Al Green. Joe Cocker. Mahalia Jackson. Doobie Brothers. I learned from my mom that if you like a song that’s all that matters. As a result, I do not allow genres to dictate what I listen to whether it’s hard rock, rap, punk, country, alternative, electronic dance, bhangra, salsa, trance, blues, gospel, bolero, jazz, pop classical or world.
I have been told my music tastes are all over the place. It has been described as eclectic to wacky to nonsensical. What can I say? I like what I like. I have never been afraid to admit to what I listen to though people have made assumptions in regards to my tastes based on my looks. She’s Black therefore she only listens to R&B, rap and hip hop. Yes, I do like rap, hip hop and R&B, but I can swing between a variety of music genres without batting an eye. I have gotten strange looks from people when I’m driving around in my car, windows down, listening to Sade then Tim McGraw followed by Nine Inch Nails.
One of my favorite types of music is rock/hard rock/alternative rock. I get pumped whenever I hear my ‘inner white boy’ playlist (as I jokingly call it) on my iPhone. I enjoy blasting it in on my headphones. I love hearing the vocalists yell or growl out the lyrics when they’re pissed off. When listening to the great to sometimes uneven guitar solos I wonder what the guitarists were thinking while they were recording their part. I bang my fingers to drum solos constantly wishing I could learn and play the drums like Taylor Hawkins does on the Foo Fighter’s ‘Everlong.’
I know that there are other black chicks or black guys like me whose music tastes are outside the box, but you don’t hear much about us. It’s acceptable and very cool for whites to listen to R&B, rap and hip-hop. Yet it is still viewed as odd for blacks NOT to only listen to R&B, rap, and hip-hop. If we do listen to it then we’re ‘weird’ or worst somehow ‘not Black’ – comments like these make me grind my teeth and start grumbling. Just because most white guys supposedly only listen to hard/alternative rock or metal doesn’t mean that non-Whites shouldn’t or haven’t given the genre a shot. A lot of good music gets overlooked because people stick to what they think or what others think they should be listening to instead of being open to all types of music.
Below is a list of some of my favorite ‘inner white boy’ songs to help anyone who wants to do some stretching beyond their usual music genres and tastes.
Note: I normally provide simple audio links for music listeners, but decided to go with official videos or live versions of the songs if available, just so that you can see these bands and artists in action.
So plug in your earbuds and take a listen, you’ll be glad that you did.
Updated October 5, 2016
Alice In Chains – ‘Rooster’
Alien Ant Farm – ‘Smooth Criminal’
All American Rejects – ‘Gives You Hell’
Arcade Fire – ‘We Exist’
Black Crowes – ‘Remedy’
Bon Jovi – ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’
The Clash – ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’
Creed – ‘Higher’
The Cult – ‘Love Removal Machine’
Def Leppard – ‘Photograph’
Fall Out Boy – ‘Dance, Dance’
Foo Fighters – ‘Everlong’
Green Day – ‘Holiday’
Jane’s Addiction – ‘Stop’
Jimi Hendrix Experience – ‘Hey Joe’
Journey – ‘Any Way You Want It’
Judas Priest – ‘You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
Living Colour – ‘Love Rears Up Its Ugly Head’
Ministry – ‘N.W.O.’
N.E.R.D. – ‘Sooner or Later’
Nada Surf – ‘Popular’
Nickleback – ‘How You Remind Me’
Nine Inch Nails – ‘Ruiner (Live)’
Pete Townshend – ‘Rough Boys’
The Pretenders – ‘Tattooed Love Boys’
Prodigy – ‘Smack My Bitch Up’
Rachid Taha – ‘Barra Barra’
Radiohead – ‘Fake Plastic Trees’
Rolling Stones – ‘Gimme Shelter’
Smashing Pumpkins – ‘Bullet With Butterfly Wings’
Soundgarden – ‘4th of July’
Staind – ‘Outside’
Since I live in the Greater DC Metro area I ride the metro (aka subway to those outside the area) to/from work several times a week. For the most part the train rides aren’t that bad compared to other subway systems in the United States such as Chicago’s which is absolutely atrocious. Anyway, I digress. The one thing that really bugs me about the DC metro are riders who have subpar quality headphones hooked up to their music player. Their headphones are so fucking shitty that you can hear every note and lyric as if you were wearing the headphones as well. Obviously if their music is up this loud this means that their headphones are a piece of shit, yet the wearer doesn’t seem to know this which is why they compensate by having the volume at maximum setting. What’s so funny is that I’ve noticed that most of these bad headphone perpetrators are Black females under 30. What’s up with that? Yes, I said it and I’m Black so sue me. Anyway, I’ve been trying to figure out this interesting anecdotal statistic, but to no avail. What is so terrible about this situation is that good headphones don’t really cost that much. My Sony headphones cost me less than $20 and I can blast away my music sitting next to someone without destroying their metro equilibrium. Don’t tell me that all these crappy headphone wearers don’t have the money since their music system is hooked up to their smartphone which they use to text message and have moronic conversations with their idiotic phonemates ad nauseum. I have seriously thought about contacting Sony to let them know that they have a good marketing campaign right at their fingertips. They should have reps going up and down the train with a camera looking for people in need of quality headphone intervention. They should go up to these fools while on camera and let them know that Sony is there to help them break the cycle. Well, since that is not going to happen I think that these riders should simply be kicked to the curb or maybe just punched in the face.