Listening report. Quarter 2. Or maybe quarter 1. Either way, it’s April-June 2020

Here is a quarterly listening report. If I was really on it, I’d have done one for the first quarter. I guess I can call it the financial year, not that this report has anything to do with finances. It’s just some dork listening to music, logging it and then writing nonsensically about it. 

What you might guess is that I didn’t particularly fixate on any one artist or album. But I did make a more concerted effort than I have in the last few years to actually listen to new or recent music. Especially hip hop, as that (along with R&B) seems to be pretty much the only genre with any weight nowadays. Outside the world of Nascar, at least.

One of the aspects I, rather ghoulishly, focused on was the recent spate of dead rappers. Some were killed the old fashioned gangsta rap way: getting shot. But a lot of them just overdosed on prescription painkillers, which is almost even sadder. It’s certainly a lonely way to go. I’ve seen recent rap (Soundcloud rap or whatever you want to call it) get compared to nu-metal, but this trend, combined with the introspective lyrics and lack of machismo, remind me more of grunge and its myriad heroin overdoses.

One of the most divisive figures was the late XXXtentacion, who first came to my attention when he was accused of brutally beating his lover. He next came to my attention when he was robbed and shot, shortly after. He was 20. He’s had two US number 1 albums. He’s platinum around the world. I’ve not looked this up recently, but as I recall, his top song on Spotify had over a billion plays. With a B. Fucking hell.

So why would I ignore him, or Juice Wrld? Or massive artists who are still alive, like Post Malone (who none other than Phil Anselmo has vouched for as a legit rocker)? Exactly. I’d have to either be ignorant as to what is going on, or else so churlish as to dismiss such success as… what… not earned? Wrong? Of course, anyone who has listened to the Spice Girls or U2 will know that being the biggest does not necessarily make you the best. But still, I’d say their success would warrant listening to them and making your mind up. I felt so old when I realised a Drake song had been UK number 1 for 15 weeks and I’d never heard it. So I listened to it. It was shit, but at least I know. 

So I’ve not been playing anything on repeat. But I’ve listened now to XXXtentacion. And Post Malone. I listened to Billie Eilish before, but I did again this quarter. Her album is pretty damn good. I don’t think I like it as much as the first Banks or FKA Twigs albums, but it’s good. 

I do really like Poppy. Now, I must admit that ordinarily I do write off YouTubers. I do think their success isn’t really earned, and from what I’ve seen, they don’t tend to have much talent. And it makes me feel a bit hypocritical that I said what I am doing with these people what I said I shouldn’t do with musical artists. But here we are: life is a complex beast. 

Anyway, from what I’ve heard, Poppy found fame as a YouTuber. Doing what I don’t know. I also hear that she did some vaporwave-style pop albums. But this year did a metal album! And I kind of really like it. It’s a bit Andrew WK in the sense that it’s a very self aware metal album. And very poppy. It feels almost like artificial heavy metal, but it’s so well made and so well thought out that I don’t care. There are so many twists and turns that it stays interesting. It’s well-performed. Yes, I like the Poppy album. 

And here are the most played songs. Marvel at how they have little-to-nothing to do with the albums. This is my concession to nostalgia. I just love listening to randomised playlists of favourite songs, especially in the shower or in the kitchen. I swear I didn’t listen to that Mad Season song so much though. That’s dodgy data quality.

I should mention the Boom Bip & Doseone album, too, Circle. It originally came out in 2000, but I got it in 2002, after falling in love with the group that Doseone was in then, cLOUDDEAD. That one had long, rambling, almost surreal rap songs. This one is the opposite – I’ve compared it to a hip-hop version of Fantomas – with many short tracks. Rather than the usual rap thing of a DJ doing the beats and an MC rapping over them, it seems Boom Bip constructed complex, evolving aural vignettes to accompany Dose’s rapping. That may not have happened, but that’s how it seems to me. And it’s absolutely brilliant: one of those classics that nobody has heard. Anyway, I’m chuffed because I tweeted about listening to the album, and they retweeted it.

And David Lee Roth is just great.

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