Apple Replay – 2019

It’s the end of December and I’m starting to reflect on a full year of listening to music. I listen to music a lot – Apple Music remains one of the best purchases that I make because I get thousands of hours of entertainment for a very small amount of money. I make a point of listening to as many new releases as I can, but I also keep going back to the same basic artists. Here is my look at my 2019 Replay list:

Top Artists of 2019

My top ten artists haven’t really changed much since 2018. One notable band (that I love) dropped out of the top ten to be replaced by a band that I don’t like nearly as much. Here is the top top and my analysis will come after:

  1. Diiv
  2. Gza
  3. Pearl Jam
  4. Joy Division
  5. Method Man
  6. The Lemonheads
  7. Johnny Cash
  8. Pennywise
  9. Social Distortion
  10. Nirvana

Looking at this list, I am shocked by a couple of things. The first is that R.E.M. is off my top ten and the Lemonheads are on. That’s really not okay, but 2019 was a weird year in dating and Mrs. Robinson happened. It obviously happened a lot more than I thought. Is listening to Evan Dando too much in a year a sign that you need therapy? If so, sign me up!!

The second thing I find shocking is that, if you remove Diiv from the list (they were essentially embryonic back then), my top ten list hasn’t changed much since I was in high school. Heck, I’m sure that if you looked at my top ten artists from the year I was 16, it would look almost exactly the same. Including the fucking Lemonheads. 16 was another weird year in dating…

Top Albums of 2019

My top ten albums were interesting to look at. Going in, I expected to see something different and I was quite surprised by how it all shook out. Two particular albums really surprise me. Here is the top ten:

  1. Liquid Swords by Gza
  2. At Folsom Prison by Johnny Cash
  3. Incesticide by Nirvana
  4. Is The Is Are by Diiv
  5. Backspacer by Pearl Jam
  6. Somersault by Beach Fossils
  7. Tical by Method Man
  8. Eat to the Beat by Blondie
  9. The Complete BBC Sessions by Joy Division
  10. Ready to Die by Biggie Smalls

The top four are absolutely no surprise. Liquid Swords is mid-school east coast hip hip at its finest – the GZA’s rhymes are tight, RZA’s production is absolutely perfect, and the Wu Tang Clan make appearances. This is an incredible album.

My Grandpa George got me into Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison when I was very, very young. He lived in Weyburn, Canada and was the best grandpa imaginable. We used to take his car out into the country, roll all the windows down, put this tape in his stereo and whoop it up. Grandpa has been dead for 27 years, but I can still hear him telling stories and laughing when I play this album.

Incesticide is an excellent album with a funny past. When Nirvana blew up, Sub Pop (their old label) discovered they had a lot of old Nirvana recordings laying around. This might not be true, but apparently Sub Pop thought of releasing those songs under the name “Cash Cow”. However, clearer heads prevailed – Kurt Cobain apparently wanted to get another album out while their star was shining bright and Geffen’s distribution network was much stronger, so Sub Pop sold the recordings to Geffen. This is one hell of an album, featuring four different drummers and lots of different recording styles, but you can hear precisely how good Nirvana really was. Kurt Cobain was a brilliant songwriter.

I have talked about Diiv a lot. Next year, I suspect that Deceiver will make my top ten, but I spent a lot of 2019 listening to Is The Is Are. It’s an amazing, shimmery, gazey album with a decided lo-fi flavour. If you enjoy the Beach Fossils, you’ll enjoy this album, or if you enjoy this album, you’ll likely enjoy the Beach Fossils.

My two big surprises on the list are Backspacer by Pearl Jam and Eat to the Beat by Blondie. Backspacer isn’t my favourite Pearl Jam album and I’m not sure how it made it to the top ten. Heck, I feel like I listened to No Code a lot more than Backspacer but I obviously didn’t. And, I’m a little surprised that Eat to the Beat is in my top ten. Don’t get me wrong, I love Blondie. They represent an amazing point in American music, when punk and new wave temporarily merged into something wildly creative and amazing. But, I didn’t think I listened to this album as much as I did. “Accidents Never Happen” is a particular standout.

Top Songs of 2019

Honestly, fuck this. Fuck this website. Fuck WordPress. Fuck this whole article. And fuck Apple Music too. Here is my top ten: 🙂

  1. Under the Sun by Diiv
  2. Mrs. Robinson by the Lemonheads
  3. Blankenship by Diiv
  4. Dopamine by Diiv
  5. Out of Mind by Diiv
  6. Love will Tear Us Apart (BBC Recording) by Joy Division
  7. Dragostea Din Tei by O-Zone (fuck fuck fuck)
  8. What the Blood Clot by Method Man
  9. Unthought Known by Pearl Jam
  10. Bent (Roi’s Song) by Diiv

Going through this list, a few things are clear. I really like Diiv. I have certain songs that I use to pump me up before business meetings (Let the whole world know my fucking name). I had a very, very weird year in dating. And fucking Numa Numa????

I wish I could blame my kid, but I can’t. She hates this song with a passion she normally reserves for cooked carrots. Numa Numa (Dragostea Din Tei) is an awful, cheesy, guilty pleasure. I think it’s technically a marketing professor’s fault, but I haven’t been in business school in a very long time so that excuse is getting lame.


I listen to a lot of music. I don’t know of any statistics on how much time the average user spends on Apple Music a year, but I’m sure that I use it more than the average user. It’s interesting though – out of all the music I listen to, I do gravitate to certain songs, artists and albums significantly more than others. Some of the insights are interesting – I was surprised to learn that I listen to Joy Division’s BBC Recordings far more than I listen to their studio albums. Other insights are humiliating – did any of you actually think I would listen to Numa Numa more than 100 times a year? (I do…and I have for over a decade).

2020’s replay list will be quite interesting. 2019 has seen some amazing new albums and it will be interesting to see how they impact the list. It will be interesting to see the impact that a full year of being able to stream Tool has on final tallies. Let’s hope for a little less Lemonheads too! 🙂

2020 will also be interesting because my kid is starting to have the same kind of relationship with music that her mom, my sister and I have. Over the last several months, she has started picking a lot of the music we listen to. She’s three and I won’t let her have her own devices until she’s at least, well, that’s up for some debate. So, we’re going to share an Apple Music account for the foreseeable future.

It will be really interesting to see her tastes in music impact a full year’s tallies. She already has her own taste in music. Heck, I have listened to the Beatles more in the last four months than I have in the last decade. She likes mumble rap (especially Lil Pump) much more than I do. Nailbomb (???) is one of her favourites. She likes Black Sabbath way more than I do. Lauren is even into Sepultura.

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