Especially because I teach a course called "The Rhetoric of Rock and Roll" every other year, I tend to listen to a shit-ton of popular music. Spotify tells me that I listened to 23,389 minutes of tuneage in '18, a huge portion of which occurs during my walks from home to UWO and vice-versa. Below are short commentaries on 20 of my top-100 most listened to songs of 2018. In looking at my listening habits, I've noticed that I tend to be drawn to songs that meet one or more criteria:
1. The song is an especially good example of a pop music genre.
2. The song subtly or overtly makes a provocative sociopolitical comment in support of humanity.
3. The song is an excellent representation of a particular time period.
4. The song is performed by an artist making a sincere attempt to communicate meaningfully with his or her or their audience; the tune is not mere "product" to line the pockets of the artist or record label execs.
5. The song evokes positive, transformative emotions like love and compassion as opposed to toxic ones like hate and selfishness.
Against that backdrop, here's twenty of my top-100 most listened to songs of 2018 in chronological order:
Otis Redding (1966). Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song). From the classic and groundbreaking album "Complete and Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul." "Sad Song" and the entire album are probably the best example of "Memphis Soul," a brand of African-American music that was more edgy and Afrocentric than the popular Detroit Motown sound of the same time period.
Taj Mahal (1968). She Caught the Katy (And Left Me A Mule To Ride). Lots of rockers in the 1960s were inspired by Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, and other old-time blues gods. But Taj Mahal was one of the few to compose a blues tune that became a standard inits own right. "She Caught the Katy" is from Taj's "The Natch'l Blues" album, a must listen for anyone who really wants to understand the roots of rock-and-roll.
Movin' On Up" is one of the more creative and inspiring uses of the beat (though the band themselves apparently thought they were influenced by the Who's "Magic Bus," perhaps not realizing that THAT song borrows the Bo Diddley beat.).
Well there you have it. That's just some of what I have been listening to this year. What about you?