Soundtrack of 2014

This post is part of ThinkKit by Smallbox.Prompt: Strike up the band – what was the soundtrack to your year? Was it the music you listened to the most? A certain song that kept reappearing, or worse...that you couldn't get away from? Or maybe it wasn't music at all – maybe a podcast, voice, performance, or significant sound played over-and-over. Whatever you heard: we're all ears!

Soundtrack to 2014 - Ally Denton

Soundtrack to 2014 - Ally Denton

I've been struggling to keep up with Think Kit posts this month, but when I saw this prompt in my inbox this morning, I had a "drop everything, save drafts, and get to it" sort of moment.

After obsessing over Spotify's Year In Music dashboard, I've been wanting to put together a post on what I listened to most. If you're an avid Spotify user like myself, you should definitely check this out. Your results will probably surprise you, in ways both alarming and delightful. For example, Usher's "Love In This Club" made it onto my Top 100 Songs playlist and for that, I'm not sorry.

What really interested me about the Year In Music results was the seasonal breakdown. Spotify tells you which artists you listened to most each season and if you live in Indiana, it confirms your struggle with seasonal depression once and for all. Only kidding ... kind of. It's nothing new, but I continue to find myself amazed by how certain songs can take you right back to specific moments, people, and feelings from another time. Music, crazy stuff, man.

Here's my seasons in music.

Winter: Kings of Leon

[youtube]   Early in 2014, I went through a phase in which I pretty much only listened to loud guitars, raspy male vocals, and excessive distortion. Kings of Leon took the crown on Spotify, but I was also listening to a lot of The Black Keys and The White Stripes. Twelve months later, not much has changed. I've still got heavy-bluesy-rock sounds on frequent rotation.

Spring: The Avett Brothers

[youtube]   I mellowed out a little bit during spring, which was a direct result of a decision to get back into playing violin. For awhile there, I was playing my violin almost everyday -- a habit I hadn't practiced in years -- it was awesome. I was taking private lessons, jamming at least once a week with some new friends. I was finally starting to get my chops back, as they say.

The fact that The Avett Brothers were my most-listened-to artist during this season is,  without a doubt, due to the song above. It played on my laptop on repeat for a few days while I tried to learn it on violin. I'm happy to report, it worked.

Other artists on frequent rotation this spring: Andrew Bird, Arcade Fire, and The Lumineers. Not surprisingly, they all use violins (or a cello ... close enough) in their lineup.

Summer: Lana Del Rey

[youtube]   When Lana Del Rey's new album came out early this summer, I was smitten. I spent many afternoons at work with Brooklyn Baby, my theme song for a solid few weeks, on loop. The real memories from this album, however, come from West Coast. This song was my jam (and my roommate's) for essentially the entire summer. We had just moved downtown, we were feeling way too cool for our own good, and somehow the sound of that song embodied everything we were doing.

I think it's just the badass, don't fuck with me sort of vibe you get, or at least I get, from the song. Lana was in good company this summer. Her music of was accompanied by the sounds of Disclosure, MisterWives, and Phantogram.

Autumn: Lorde

[youtube]   I listened to Lorde quite a bit when her album first came out, but it wasn't until this fall that I really got hooked. Her voice is sort of spooky and enchanting, so it just felt right to crank up this song in the car on a gray, cool day. This is my favorite track off the album, mostly due to the first 30 seconds. Heavy bass, catchy beat. Sign me up.

Because you can't listen to too much Lorde without getting depressed, this fall also welcomed a lot of Kanye West, Wiz Khalifa, and alt-J.

Tell me about your year in music. Which artists defined 2014 for you?