In the absence of hard drive space (and a functioning computer) I spent far too much of the past year listening to the same music I’ve had for ages. That’s not to say that it’s bad music of course – just that I’ve exhausted it all through years of excessive love and repetition. Not to mention that ever since I got drunk in Okinawa and lost my iPod a few years ago (oops) I’ve been stuck using my phone as my only portable audio device. Whatever I can fit into its 2 KB of memory is what I have to work with.
In the last few weeks of 2015 I grew thoroughly sick of everything I had on my iPhone. No one artist or album or playlist could work its usual magic and keep me sane or motivated. I had resorted to shuffling through the comprehensive song list, which served as both a refreshing reminder of how much I love this music, as well as a catalyst for a massive flashback.
The few thousand songs on my phone constitute old favorites I can never go without as well as some of my more recent acquisitions (not new songs necessarily, but new to my collection). Some of them are insanely nostalgic; others inextricably remind me of times or places – or people, for better or worse. For the sake of posterity, here is a rough playlist of my 2015.
2015 rolled around to some old tunes, mostly Hole and Bikini Kill. (If my first post on this blog is any indicator, the end of 2014 + beginning of the new year had a lot of Bikini Kill.) My magnificent friend Cat came to visit me in Japan and brought with her a dose of college nostalgia. I was blasting 90s grunge all month like I was in my dorm room again.
Sometimes I download music just because Noel Fielding tells me to. The Kills gratefully fell into that category, but despite owning all their music since college I never had the patience to fully explore them until this year. I hesitate to admit that it might have been “Gossip Girl” that steered me in their direction anew…Hey, the show had good music, okay?
By March I had been in Japan for about half a year and was beset with as much culture fatigue as could be expected. Grasping at straws for entertainment – and, it has to be said, redemption, after a bad breakup – I found myself a new, fun “romance” in which to entangle myself. Naturally it was all a huge mess, but before everything blew up it allowed me a degree of vindication, which paired magnificently with The Zolas’ music.
I’m not even ashamed to admit that I first heard them in season 2 of “Hemlock Grove.” Season 2 was good, okay – and the music even better. What an anti-breakup song.
Unfortunately, with the dissolution (which was not unfortunate) of my weird pseudo-courtship, I couldn’t listen to this band for quite a while. I think I’m most bitter about that over all the other drama. Ruin “Cultured Man” for me? Fuck off.
I’ve gotten it back though. Finally.
In spring I went back to America to see my family – including my ruthlessly pop-culture-obsessed teenaged sister. Thus began my needlessly reluctant descent into mainstream pop. I never expected the day would come when I would purposefully listen to Taylor Swift, much less enjoy it, but it did. To be fair nothing makes a better soundtrack for social drama than radio-grade pop.
(P.S. I wanted to post “New Romantics” here, but I can’t find it bloody anywhere, so here’s “Bad Blood.” You get the idea.)
I have to say, if I got anything out of last year’s misguided romantic efforts, it was music. I had next to no contemporary rap in my collection before this dude imparted his knowledge to me, and I don’t know how I went this long without. Nights when my friends and I don’t hijack the speakers at our bar and play “King Kunta” are rare.
As far as songs that describe existing relationships go, this one is Spot. On. Not to mention how perfect are these lyrics for passive aggressive Facebook statuses?
…Yeah, okay, one could say I was in a “bitter” place in July. Hell hath no fury, and all that. Luckily scorn escorted me to some great female artists I’d never heard of, including the Scottish duo Honeyblood. As I said when I first posted this video on FB, “nothing subdues an estrogen rampage quite like two hot chicks with a hate song.” Fact.
…Yeah, alright, I spent a lot of last year bitter. Then, with magnificent timing, enter All Dogs, their pop-punk balance of angsty lyrics and gorgeous melody providing an important reminder:
The dichotomy exists. There is beauty in hurt. At the very least, it makes good art.
On the short list of “Albums I Actually Paid For” there’s this latest one from Family of the Year. This song was impossible to find between its premier on the “Girls” season finale and the album release, and I waited in angst for its availability. It stayed stuck in the back of my mind for literally months, and if that’s not a testament to how amazing this song is, I don’t know what bloody else to say.
I don’t know how I managed to go so long without Childish in my collection. I have nothing to say in my defense; I just suck.
There is no better hype song than “Sweatpants” – period. I have not gone a day without playing it since I got the album.
Winter brings with it a particular breed of melancholy for which shoegaze is well suited. I finally filtered through all the bands I’d downloaded en masse ages ago and pulled out a few gems the likes of this. Makes walking through downtown Kumamoto with your headphones in and hundreds of people streaming around you in every direction pretty damn cinematic.
Capping off a year of anxiety and bitterness with some arguably emo, epically catchy pop-punk. Say what you want about an album they used to sell at Hot Topic, but I fucking love it. After a year of searching for a new fuck-you song (illuminating of my 2015 mindset, woof) I finally got an album full of them.
Here’s hoping 2016 doesn’t necessitate any more of them.
(Y’all get two songs this time. “Hall of Mirrors” ’cause it’s my favorite, “Drain the Blood” for the video, ’cause Brody Dalle is fucking badass.)
I can’t talk about last year’s tunes without mentioning a few standouts. I played these bitches on repeat all damn year and still haven’t totally ruined them for myself. If someone asked me what I was listening to in 2015, I would have to say the following tracks – and they would in turn give me a weird look, I imagine.
I might’ve had a prolonged emo/90s music spree last year. This song crawled its way into my brain and never fucking left. Despite the hilarious subject matter “Voyeur” quickly became one of my favorite songs (because yes I missed the Blink boat until now). I literally wish this would play when I walk into rooms.
Blaming this one on the Japanese club scene. In my defense there was a brief window for really “good” shit pop that seems to have closed as of recently – but not before “Hangover” got into my skull. Think it’s revealing that a song about getting wasted and feeling like a bag of assholes the next day made it into my top tracks? You’d be right. 2015 saw a lot of rough weekend mornings…
First heard this gem at a rock bar (appropriately called Rock Bar) in downtown Kumamoto early last year – which is ridiculous, considering I’ve owned Garbage’s albums for ages. It was on my gd iTunes and I’d never listened to it ffs – but luckily that meant I didn’t have to download it off my shitty 7G/month wifi.
I remember sitting in the bar with a new acquaintance of mine who had expressed that he didn’t “like music.” To which my response could only be, What the FUCK does that mean?! He said it didn’t particularly do anything for him; didn’t move him.
“Supervixen” came on. I remember saying, “Well, you either feel it or you don’t. Like this song. Do you fucking feel it?”
I fucking did.
I think it’s pretty safe to say my 2015 sucked, through no one’s fault including mine; I wouldn’t even blame my circumstances. Arguably I was just in a shitty place, followed some questionable compulsions, and overall just had a rough time of it. Shit happens.
But for however bad the year itself was, its soundtrack was pretty damn good.
Music might be the one thing I inextricably need in my life, at least to get through the day, and now I’m onto a new year, new music, new favorites – and new circumstances. I already feel so different – so much better – than I did last year, knowing that time has passed and being able to put the worst of it behind me.
In a way I’m sure these songs will always remind me of a rough year, but hey – they’re the songs that got me through it.