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The continuing decline of popular music

A quick recap:  Twelve months ago I spoke about the worry of the number of songs in my ‘favourites songs of that year’ playlist dropping sharply.   I basically have playlists in iTunes for every year since I have enjoyed popular music and put it into it the songs I have enjoyed during that time. It’s a reflection on how much popular music I have listened to, enjoyed, and the playlists are all called ‘My…’ followed by the year, so as to indicate how it’s a personal playlist of my tastes. I’ve retrospectively created these playlist for the pre-iTunes era – but just replicated what would have been a compilation tape, CD-R or MiniDisc at the time.

In 1988 (at the height of my teen-buy-vinyl phase) there were 81 songs. It dipped in the 90’s but hit a interesting high again in in 2008 of 66 songs, and 2009 of 64 songs (in a post-divorce ‘I’m enjoying life as much as i can now’ phase), only for it to drop to 28 songs in 2013, and stay low at 29 songs in 2014.

Well – at the end of 2015, I have another count-up of how many songs, and the good news is that in 2015, the total has gone up, looking better than the previous two years with 35 songs enjoyed by me during the last 12 months. Oh! But then I noticed something which brought a sense of dismay.

I’ve currently got 4,446 songs in my iTunes collection, and all of them (all of them!) have got 5-star ratings that I’ve applied at some point.  Obviously songs that appear in the ‘My…’ playlists are generally 3-stars and above.  Why would a 1-star or 2-star song appear in a playlist of songs that I’d enjoyed.

For me, a 1-star song is ‘poor’ (and yes, there’s an argument for why would have a 1-star song in my collection, but we’ll save that for another day), a 2-star song is ‘Ok’, and 3-star song is ‘Good!’, a 4-star song is ‘Really Good!’, and a 5-star song is a special rating, only assigned to songs that I think are outstandingly special.

And here’s what I noticed.

My 2015 Playlist

My 2015 Playlist

In every year since 1986, I have had at least one 5-star rated tune. The most I ever had in one year was in 2009 when I had 11 of them. Even last year out of my total of 29 songs, three of were rated by me as 5-stars.

But for 2015 … out of my 35 songs, none of them are 5-star rated.  Eleven of them have 4-stars, twenty-one of them have 3-stars, and three have 2-stars. But no 5-star ones.  Shit! There was no tune last year that made me think I every time it came on and indulge in a world of old-man dancing, and completely not care about anything else that is going on in the world the for the 4 minutes that I listened to it.

And that’s saddening. That makes me slightly worried. It my taste in popular music declining further, and what if I never have another 5-star song again my life. I’d like to think it won’t happen. Surely there will be another new tune in the future that uplifts me, motivates me, inspires me, and is a joy to hear every time I hear it.

But what if there isn’t?  What if that’s it? What if I never have a another 5-star pop song for the rest of my life?

I’ll check again in another twelve months, and see how 2016 has turned out.

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