2016, the year I finally got old.
In theory, I’ve been old for a while. I’m not the target audience for most new music anymore and haven’t been for a while now. But this year was the first year where I finally started to understand why the previous generation wanted all these damn kids off of their lawn.
Each week for the last three years*, Linds and I have been watching a series on YouTube that condenses the Billboard Hot 100 chart down to twenty minute videos. Now, as stated, I’m not really the target audience to begin with, as my tastes haven’t skewed “pop” or “R&B” for….just about forever. Nonetheless, it’s a kind of fun and interesting way to keep up to date on what music is popular without having to, you know, turn the damned radio on.
* Ever since VH1 canned Jim Shearer from the Top 20 Video Countdown. It was an obviously horrible move. None of the hosts they had on the show had even half of Shearer’s charisma, and the format turned from the often-interesting “guy on the street” to the ever-boring “people sitting in a studio sound stage”. The most obvious thing about the whole story was when the show got cancelled.
This year, more than ever, it all sounded so…played out. Generic trap rap might be my least favorite thing ever*, but it wasn’t just people like Future becoming legitimate stars and formerly kind of interesting people like Drake latching on to worst impulse trends with reckless abandon, everything just sounded generic. From Maroon 5 (dude, Kendrick… what??) to a good 60% of Alt Nation’s newer playlist, nothing really stood out.
* Weirdly, it will be fairly underrepresented in my “Least Favorite Songs” list. To some degree, that’s because I don’t really listen to it, but also, it’s a little more “boring and monotonous” than “actively bad”.
And even if it did, for some reason, it felt like I didn’t have any chance to listen to it. I ended up listening to nearly 80 new albums this year, but that’s down from other years, and I straight up missed stuff from so many artists that had been meaning to check out that it’s sort of surprising that I did end up coming up with a fairly solid top 20.
A lot of that was the new normal of my life. Pre-fatherhood, Linds and I would end up going off and doing our thing in separate rooms after dinner pretty often. This was when I would usually listen to new music. For the last ten years, the Internet has been (by FAR) the place where I find the most music. That was still the case this year, obviously, but there was one huge difference. In the past, I would be surfing the net in my office, find a band or album that seemed interesting, and pull up whatever music I could find by them immediately. This year, I’m doing just as much digging, but Linds and I usually sit in the living room to unwind a bit after Caleb goes to bed. Instead of listening to something right away, it goes into the “That sounds kind of interesting, I’ll listen to that later” queue. That was a queue that did nothing but get bigger and bigger this year.
I definitely don’t mean for this to come off as complaining, even if a readthrough of this is certainly giving off that vibe. It just means that next year, I’m going to have to structure my time a little differently. I should probably do that anyway.
Anyway, even though I didn’t find quite as much new stuff as I usually do this year, there was still a treasure trove of music to be found. That’s what this week is about! We come to praise 2016’s Music, not bury it.
Let’s do this.