At the risk of sounding like an old man, why is 2015 such a rough year for music? Compared to previous years, I find myself putting very little in the way of new tunes on repeat listening.
Looking at my favourite songs of 2013, at least three quarters were released by June . About half of my favourites of 2014 came out during the first five months. In 2015, there are maybe three songs so far that I can say, unequivocally, will make my year-end list1. More damning, they are the only three that would have a chance of making my top 20 had they been released any other year in the past decade.
The way I see it, there are a few possible reasons behind this:
Option one: There isn’t that much good music in 2015.
This seems unlikely, but it is possible. In Vulture’s “Song of the Summer”contenders list they note that nothing so far major “oomph” this year in terms of being a clear summer jam. So maybe it is just a weak field.
Option two: There is good music, but I haven’t heard it
More likely. Compared to past years, I haven’t been all that diligent in keeping up with new releases. I used to have CBC Music and the Hype Machine on constant streams to catch not just the big hits, but the little gems that would often wind up being my favourites that never appeared on anyone else’s list. I’m going back and listening to their charts from the year to see if I’m just missing out, but so far there’s not all that much promise.
Option three: Streaming music is destroying my ability to love songs that don’t immediately grab me
Also more likely. Once upon a time, I would listen to the radio and the songs they played would slowly grow on me. And I would buy CDs, and the songs on them would slowly grow on me. With on-demand, if a song doesn’t immediately give me a reason to come back, I can hit skip and never hear it again. Although I would have thought the effects of this would have reared their head earlier (I’ve been streaming music for years now), maybe I’ve hit a point of music saturation that’s finally affecting my ability to let new songs grow on me over time.
Option four: I’m getting old, yo
According to a new study, people stop listening to music at age 33. I’m not quite there, but maybe my inability to get into new stuff is just part of the irreversible passage of time. I’ve spent a decade and a half as a voracious music lover, building up a collection of tunes that it would takes months of continuous listening to even get through. Maybe I’m hitting a point of diminishing returns where it’s harder for new stuff to grab my attention because it sounds less new, less original, and less fresh then it did when I was an impressionable fifteen-year-old. Eventually I’ll just sit around listening to Beyoncé and Kanye West and the White Stripes, wondering why teenagers these days don’t “get” real music. My Rdio playlists will never change, except things like alternate mixes on the 30th anniversary edition of Long.Live.A$AP.
In the scheme of things, not getting into new music isn’t a big deal and I certainly have no problem with getting old. But music discovery has been a big part of my life for years now, and listening to playlists from the past are great little memory markers for me, taking me back to the years I made them, or even into the moments when I first heard a new favourite song. So I will be playing with how I listen, giving more repeats to tracks that seem to be a little subtler, and making sure to keep casting a wide net for listening. And if you have thoughts/music discovery suggestions/favourite tracks/whatever, leave a comment below.
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