Picks Of The Year 1982 - 2020: The Video Playlists

Picks Of The Year 1993 - 2008 inclusive. There isn't enough image space on the page to include them all, sorry.[Updated 21/01/2021 to include the playlist for 2020.]

At least one of the links below tells you the full story, so I won't go through it all again. But in brief: since 1982, I've been producing an annual series of Pick Of The Year compilations, collating my favourite tracks from that year's music releases. From 1982 to 1989, they were gargantuan twin-tape affairs: between 1993 and 1997, they were single 90 minute cassettes: and since 1998, I've been burning them onto CDs. (I didn't make compilations at the time for 1990-1992, but two decades later I created some CD-length ones as a best-guess approximation with the benefit/hindrance of hindsight.)

1998 was the year that I started writing about these compilations on the interwub, as they were being produced. The years before then have been subsequently been documented on this site, with a lot of ironic pointing and laughing at the sort of junk I used to listen to. Put all that together, and you've got a hefty collection of tracks covering my musical interests from 1982 to the present day.

And thanks to YouTube, you can hear most of them right now. The playlists below aren't complete, inevitably: some artists are less happy than others about letting their product be heard for free. But the vast majority of the songs I've chosen are there in some form or other - from official record company videos, to slapdash fan-made tributes consisting of a single still image with the song playing over the top. (I guess my own Felix Project videos fall somewhere in between those two stools.)

Anyway, you've got a couple of days' worth of music here that I've liked at one time or another. And I'll be updating this page each time I produce a new POTY compilation. Enjoy.

For those of you who don't want to look at videos, there are also Spotify playlists available for each year, although many of them have at least one track missing. See the relevant pages covering the years 1982-1989, 1990-1999, 2000-2009 and 2010-2019. And if you make it all the way to the bottom of this page, you'll be rewarded with a single 739-song, 59.5 hour playlist of the whole damn lot (though the widget only displays the first hundred tracks, the coward).

Continue reading "Picks Of The Year 1982 - 2020: The Video Playlists" »


Simian Substitute Site for January 2021: Year Of The Monkey

Year Of The MonkeyMONTH END PROCESSING FOR DECEMBER 2020
[one-line despatches from a lockdown Christmas]

Comedy: Just the Tonic New Year's Eve Special: the closest thing available to our usual NYE night out, a fine collection of comics both big (Al Murray, Romesh Ranganathan) and small (Daliso Chaponda's only really come to my attention through online gigs like this), with Ivan Brackenbury's hospital radio DJ schtick proving a surprisingly smart choice to lead us into the final countdown. The Bugle Relives 2020: Andy Zaltzman, Alice Frasier, Nish Kumar and Nato Green's overview of the year (livestreamed to a paying audience, available soon as an edited podcast) didn't have the budget of Charlie Brooker's Death To 2020 so had to make do with decent gags instead.

Movies: The Right Stuff: selected from our DVD shelf as a tribute to the late Chuck Yeager, we discovered shortly after viewing that it was recently remade by Disney and National Geographic without the Yeager bits, which seems insane. The Muppet Christmas Carol: it's only when you watch the film with someone who hasn't seen it before (really, she hadn't) that you realise how many things in current Christmas culture reference it nowadays. Soul: I suspect Pixar's newie got a lot of free passes from me thanks to being watched late on Christmas Day under the influence of everything, but sadly we never got to arrange a control group to test that.

Music: Thommo's Christmas Music Show: one of the surprise delights of Christmas Eve, as Mark Thomas made live Zoom calls to loads of his comedy chums and played their favourite Christmas songs - the biggest surprise being that a show that was scheduled to last three hours ended up running for five. United We Stream: the Mancunian charity livestreamers had a couple of epic shows for the festive season: a six-hour recreation of Wigan's Boxing Day fancy dress party, and a twenty-four hour bloody monster from the Hacienda mob covering New Year celebrations in every world timezone.

Telly: Royal Institution Christmas Lectures 2019: shit, what are all those kids doing crammed in that room like that? Royal Institution Christmas Lectures 2020: ah, that's better. The Mandalorian Season 2: still more fun than most things in the modern Star Wars universe, but it'll be interesting to see if it stays that way given how this season ended. The Little Drummer Girl: sitting on our Sky box for over two years until the death of its author spurred us into bingeing it, Park Chan-wook's adaptation has all the sheer narrative drive that I can remember from when I devoured the novel in a single day back in 1984, and makes me wonder why the movie version with Diane Keaton ever seemed like a good idea. Death To 2020: how the hell does a comedy show with eighteen credited writers have so few jokes in it?

Theatre: The Long Goodbye: Riz Ahmed's online-only dry run for his 2021 Manchester International Festival show, taking the themes from his film Mogul Mowgli and brilliantly distilling them into a thirty minute monologue with music. Kid Carpet And The Noisy Animals Totally Normal Christmas Party: we finally got to see one of the Kid's shows for kids, and this crazed fifty-way Zoom call was the perfect blend of inspired daftness with a crafty bit of satire thrown in for the grown-ups.

P.S.: In the half hour between finishing breakfast and starting work on lunch on Christmas Day, I made one of these things - maybe you'll find it useful next year.

P.P.S.: One day after putting the above ridiculously long list of items onto the internet, I suddenly realised that I'd forgotten a couple of other things I'd done over Christmas: specifically, I'd also watched two complete online pantomimes. So. Cinderella And The Beanstalk: the Newcastle branch of the Stand comedy club put on a surprisingly traditional livestreamed affair with a cast of four, some neat use of pre-recorded video and some rather fine jokes (including a reference to Tier 4 a mere half day or so after it was first announced). Jack And The Beer Hops: a rather less traditional panto put on by the Brewgooder brewery in aid of the Theatre Artists Fund, consisting of a beautifully packaged set of four beers delivered to your home, a ten minute video panto featuring characters named after the beers (or vice versa), and a whole Google drive full of activities including colouring in sheets, a quiz, a Spotify playlist of Christmas songs and a video tasting session for the beers.

Continue reading "Simian Substitute Site for January 2021: Year Of The Monkey" »


The Devil Set My Takkies On Fire: Pick Of The Year 2020

#BLMtackie
/╦łtaki/
noun, informal, South African
plural noun: takkies
1. a rubber-soled canvas sports shoe.
2. a tyre.

Hopefully that clears that one up. (Although it's possible it might be trackies - I tried asking one of the songwriters on Twitter, but never heard back. Still, the newly topical cover photo works either way.)

Anyhoo, merry Christmas, such as it is. It looks like we've got ourselves a tradition now, as 2020 is the third year in a row that my Pick Of The Year compilation has dropped on Christmas Day. But what does my 39th POTY look like at the end of the most messed up year in living memory? Well, it's a lot more insular - no travelling means no foreign language songs, and the only nations represented are the British Isles and America (I'm choosing to assume Nick Cave is ours now). Emotionally, it's even more of a see-saw than usual, with a mixture of the happy, the sad, the angry and the topical (with those last two categories overlapping somewhat).

As ever, it's all yours to hear right now in both video and Spotify formats. And also as ever, at the end of this piece we have a competition (closing date January 31st 2021) to win a CD of The Devil Set My Takkies On Fire for yourself. Will it be Dave, or will it be not Dave? The answer is in your hands. (Particularly if you're Dave.) Anyway, here we go.

Continue reading "The Devil Set My Takkies On Fire: Pick Of The Year 2020" »


Spotify Picks Of The Year: The Tenties

A big hello to those of you who've been waiting for three years to see the finished version of this image.A version of this article was originally posted on this site on January 9th, 2018. Although I've been tweaking and updating the text at various points in this four-part series of reposts, I'm going to quote the opening of this final part exactly as it stood nearly three years ago.

When historians look back at the deeply troubled period between 2010 and 2019, I suspect they'll say that one of its major problems was that we never really agreed what to call it.

Look at the decades we've covered in the rest of this series. The Eighties? The Nineties? Spectacularly uncontroversial: everybody calls them that. Things got a bit more uncertain at the turn of the millennium, but there was eventually an unspoken agreement that the cheeky double entendre of the Noughties would have to do. But what about now? We're four-fifths of the way through this garbage fire of a decade, and still nobody can come up with a name for it, other than the basic facepalm gesture. So I'm proposing the Tenties as the logical choice, even though it sounds bloody daft. Roll on 2020, when at least we're back into a pre-existing naming convention.

Just to recap: the Tenties was a garbage fire, and it will be a relief when 2020 comes around. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Anyway, the fourth and final part of this feature is structured in the same way as the other three, and this time round it includes details for 2018 and 2019, which I couldn't do on the previous occasion because of the linear nature of time. Once again, I've taken the Pick Of The Year CD compilations I've been creating every year, and attempted to recreate them as Spotify playlists. You'd assume that as Spotify's been running since 2008, pretty much every record released this decade would be on there, but you'd be wrong. The gaps on these last few playlists tend to fall into three categories: limited web-only releases via sites like Bandcamp, music from foreign parts (though Japan seems to have embraced international releasing for its bigger artists), and acts who've simply decided that streaming isn't something they want to do.

As always, I've noted the omissions for each year (including a few that have dropped off Spotify since January 2018), and included links to the original discussions of the tracks. The more alert of you may have realised that the playlists for 2014-2016 have been around for a while, and were set up specifically for MostlyFilm's end-of-year roundups (though the embedded players are all buggered now, as they were updated some time ago). The others, though, have been set up specifically for this page. Happy streaming, or whatever it is that the kids would say.

Continue reading "Spotify Picks Of The Year: The Tenties" »