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223 tunes later

My PlaylistsOne of my main obsessive compulsive behavioural things-to-do, is to neatly make playlists in iTunes called ‘My…’ followed by the year, which is a chronological list of my favourite songs throughout the year.

Back in the days of cassette tapes, I used to make up compilations (as everyone did) of my favourite current songs. That then switched briefly to CD – and even more briefly for me – to an era when I used MiniDisc, the best part about that being is that they were re-usable (unlike CD-R’s) meaning you could ‘delete’ a song that you liked hearing lots a month ago but not anymore and add in your new favourite choon.

So with the advent of iTunes and playlists (and smart playlists – still the most underused and underated feauture if iTunes I reckon) you can make all these sorts of things and keep them permamently. I even have one called ‘MD’ which replicated that MiniDisc era – and is simply just the last 14 songs that I have added and have 3 stars or above as their rating.

That star rating is most important to me amongst all the metadata I add onto my tracks (the year, the genre, the artwork, star-rating – all filled in for EVERY song in my iTunes) because you can look back and see what your favourite songs were for a particular year or any time period.

I can look back over the last four years, and be reminded of the happy times and sad times all because of the music I was listening to at the time and how I’ve rated them. And by counting the number of songs in each of my yearly playlists (I normally average about 60 favourite songs for the year, and I’ve gone back and retrospectively created playlists since 1986 – the year I started to buy music), I can see that in 2006 I had 64 songs, 2008 was 62, and even now in 2009 I’m up to 59 tracks. But the year of 2007? I have a mere 38 tracks in my favourites playlist.

Now does that mean that 2007 was a particularly poor year for music, or was it because that I was so unhappy generally that I was failing to get excited by the music at the time and unable to generate good memories by association. When I look back at my ‘My 2007’ playlist, so few of the songs really stand out as favourites for me.

So I’m using the 5-star rating system to see if it makes things clearer. I’ve added up the number of stars in total for each year and divided it by the number of tracks in that year to give us an average. And it goes as so:

2006 average rating = 3.09 [5 stars: 5 songs, 4 stars: 13 songs, 3 stars: 28 songs, 2 stars: 18 songs, 1 star: 0 songs]
2007 average rating = 2.60 [5 stars: 2 songs, 4 stars: 8 songs, 3 stars: 12 songs, 2 stars: 15 songs, 1 star: 1 song]
2008 average rating = 3.17 [5 stars: 4 songs, 4 stars: 14 songs, 3 stars: 33 songs, 2 stars: 11 songs, 1 star: 0 songs]
2009 average rating = 3.31 [5 stars: 4 songs, 4 stars: 18 songs, 3 stars: 28 songs, 2 stars: 8 songs, 1 star: 0 songs]

My 2009

So you could take from this, then when I turned up in America in 2006, I was happy (3.09 – When I thought that everything was going to be great), which then took a turn for the worse during 2007 (2.60 – realised that it wasn’t and marriage not going to last), which got better in 2008 (3.17 – became single again started to piece life back together) to 2009 (3.31 – the happiest I’ve ever been in the USA as I’ve had a brilliant year).

Now I don’t think that 2007 was a bad year for music at all. I just think it means because I was having a shit time in my life, that my unhappy mood was reflected in how receptive I was to hearing new songs and enjoying them at the time … and perhaps even more importantly when I look back upon those songs of 2007, the mood is still there and I find myself feeling glum, rather than happy. The power of music, eh?

5 responses to “223 tunes later”

  1. Emma says:

    Geoff, are the songs of 2009 only songs released this year, or what you’re listening to this year?

    Big difference… Just wondering…

  2. geofftech says:

    the ‘My…’ playlists are what i’m listening to currently, right now at the time. whether they’re ‘current’ hits or not.

    e.g. back in 2008 there are four or five songs that we’re NOT hits of the time, but due to the situation or circumstances i was in, i found them to have some meaning and found myself playing them a lot .. and thus became part of ‘My…’, because they have relevance and meaning to me for that time.

    But mostly (80-90%), they are ‘current’ hits of that time. Chart/Top4o what’s-on-the-radio type of stuff.

  3. Paul says:

    I really should sort thru my iTunes songs but it would take too long and I really can’t be bothered! Your idea sounds really good in practice, but in reality it would take me ages to go through them. And apart from 5 stars for a really wicked song, how can I determine if it just falls short and give it 4 … Artwork, thats another problem, I have artwork for most of my CD’s but not all.

  4. Emma says:

    You’d be hard-pressed to guess the current year based on my current listening, or if I were to create a “My 2009”! Love Smart Playlists though… v good! Do you use the Genius?

  5. geofftech says:

    I recently used the Genius a lot – yes, when REBUILDING these playlists. when i had all my stuff stolen back in the summer i lost all my iTunes, iPod and backup. so i had to start again from scratch. So i would hear a song on the radio (say) from 1992, and think “ooh, this was in my 1992 playlist”, add it in, and then hit Genius on it to see what it would throw up – and often it would come up with other songs which I then remembered were also from around that time. I liek Genius. I would like to see a feature where it recommends songs that AREN’T in your library that you might like to add as well though. i’m sure it’s only a matter of time until Apple do this.

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