At the end of the year Spotify released its “Your 2017 Wrapped” playlist to its users. It compiled the 100 or so songs you listened to the most into a playlist, and (for the most part) ranked them in order of how often you listened to them. This came along with an infographic that showed you how many minutes of music you listened to, how many different artists, different songs, and different genres you explored.
But if you have Spotify, you already know that. What we love about the playlist is the snapshot it made of the year—songs from a local band’s new record, songs that friends recommended, workplace anthems, and songs from artists we started loving years ago and can’t stop listening to.
We’re interested in what was in other people’s playlists – so we asked some people. The following is a collection from SkipFiction staff and writers sharing what is on their “Your 2017 Wrapped” playlist and what they think about the songs they listened to most this past year.
Schyler Perkins, Editor
For me, it has always been hard to tell if the years are getting longer or if they are getting shorter. Summer and exams and holidays always sem like they approach faster and faster, but when I have time to sit back and reflect on what happened in the past year, it seems so impossible for everything to have happened. That it must have all slipped by before I could let it sink in. That’s what this playlist did for me, in large part—it served as something that stretched my memory out, brought back the year, reminded me of everything that has happened that I’ve attached to a song, and songs that I listened to on repeat to hold onto those moments.
“Pho” by Oliver Houston was my top song of the year, but nearly the entirety of Oliver Houston’s “Whatever Works” album is somewhere on my “Your 2017 Wrapped.” Partially listened to out of love for locals, mostly listened to because the band sounds like a glorious baby of Algernon and Glocca Morra, the album throws me back to driving around Grand Rapids in the summer, taking trips out to Lake Michigan, and going to local shows and seeing old friends and great performances.
“Everyone, if Anyone” by Pet Symmetry is the third song on my playlist, and at least a couple songs from Evan Weiss’ other projects are peppered throughout my playlist, too. Evan has been hard at work over the past couple years, released a ton of great music, and has even collaborated with one of the Kinsella brothers (the granddaddies of emo, fronting bands like American Football and Cap’n Jazz) to put out an album under the name Their/They’re/There. “Everyone, if Anyone” does something that few other of his songs do (the exceptions mostly found on Into It. Over It.’s “PROPER” record), which is just belting out and jamming. It’s a simple, high-energy song that you can shout along to in the car, or listen to the soft, a cappella opening line “Do you ever yearn / to be alone?” and reply “hell yeah.”
A couple other local bands made it in my top songs of the year, including Radiator Hospital and Cheap Emotion. Bands that have toured through house venues made it on as well, like Gulfer, Prince Daddy and the Hyena, Glocca Morra (albeit a WHILE ago), and Perspective, a Lovely Hand to Hold. I couldn’t be more thankful to live in a city where you can drive a couple minutes down the road to a friend’s basement and see a band that you’ll listen to for the rest of the year.
John Akers, Editor
No, “Surfin Coffin” by Japanther didn’t come out in 2017 but for some reason it ended up with a lot of digital spins via my spotify account, and I think I’ve realized why: For the longest time I’ve referred to automobiles as moving metal death traps, simply because most people don’t seriously realize the risk involved with driving. One wrong move and multiple people are sure to end up with drastic injuries. Unless, they’re already dead. I’m glad Japanther and I are hip to the same beat about cars. Just listen to their first few lines from this song: “To all the corpses / in metal coffins / along the freeway / and in the office.” Theory confirmed. At least my coffin can transmit National Public Radio so I can go out to a good story or some interesting bit of news.
I’ve been jamming this band for years, some of these records I could sing backwards (thankfully their melodies are superbly catchy and simple). As if this song wasn’t already relatable enough I began to appreciate it fully this year after accepting a full time employment offer at a sales and marketing firm located in the heart of booming downtown Grand Rapids. So booming, in fact, my company decided to relocate to a larger space on 28th street in Wyoming (Michigan – I would never follow a job to the state of Wyoming) While we were still located downtown I had the luxury of riding the bus to work (riding for free when the drivers were too lazy to check the date on my expired student ID). Trust me – life really is about the little things – and its those same little things you used to be able to do on a morning commute, like checking all my social media platforms, clearing my browsing history from the night before, and flipping through recent screencaps, that you begin to miss when you can’t ride the bus to work anymore and must start driving a sleek metal death box. Now, my ten minute commute which consisted of reading and keeping up to date with the latest internet buzz, has increased 150% and consists of tense attention-demanding navigation through the worst winter weather west Michigan has to offer. And if there’s anything that clearly epitomizes how I feel jam packed bumper-to-bumper on 131 southbound at eight in the morning, it’s the following lines: “To all the corporate / spilling their coffee / we do not copy / the human spirit’s still alive.” There’s one thing that keeps me going day in and day out, it’s a dream that if I ever work up the courage to commit to reality, should be the most liberating moment of my life: dumping my coffee on my boss’s head and proclaiming the words “I DO NOT COPY, I QUIT!” and then promptly driving my coffin to the beach.
I bumped HUMBLE. by Kendrick Lamar so many times it’s hard to place a first memory of hearing it. I listened to it on repeat when traveling from one bar to the next in between shifts, halfway through my first of back-to-back doubles, a norm for me right after graduating from college. It kept the fatigue at bay and my spirits out of misery. Soon after when the full album “DAMN.” came out, my girlfriend and I sat down and read along to the lyrics while listening through every song. By then it was a familiar piece of a new and tumultuous story, and a perfect start to the spring of 2017.
In 2017 I rediscovered my love for early Modest Mouse, and “Broke” really resonated with me. So much so that I convinced some friends to learn and play a few of their songs for a Halloween show cover-set. The lyrics to this song are more relatable than I’d like to admit, and playing them to a small crowd was one of the more cathartic experiences in my life. What better way is there to spend my time after graduating college than meditating on/practicing music about self-doubt and regret?
Andrea Cordes, Contributor
Looking at my Spotify 2017 Wrapped, I noticed 3 things: bands I hadn’t listened to since high school, bands that I finally sought out after hearing about them everywhere previously, and bands that were either all-women or women fronted.
2017 was an awful year for everyone, whether it was caused by our current political climate, the ever-looming possibility of World War III, or the existential dread of realizing we’re adults and no longer living a debt-free, anxiety-free life. When things got bad, I reverted back to my teenage tastes: Panic! At the Disco, Paramore, Green Day, My Chemical Romance, Silverstein… If they had merchandise at Hot Topic circa 2008, you can bet on Gerard Way’s pasty complexion that I listened to them.The musicians that got angsty adolescent Andrea through high school reappeared in my playlists to get me through my now post-college life.
This year was also the year that I expanded my tastes: I finally got into more rap, hip-hop, and classic punk. For years when I was younger, I was one of those insufferable “anything but rap and country!” types. But no. Not anymore, friends. Now I don’t discriminate—as long as it slaps. Highlights included: A Tribe Called Quest (whose latest release is sure to become a classic), Kendrick Lamar (duh), Blackstar, Mos Def, punk artists like The Damned and X-Ray Spex, and Ace Tee–A German solo hip hop artist that bumps like TLC (you’ll love her, trust me.) I think my adult self has expanded my horizons for a number of reasons. For one, I moved to a city that’s a bit more diverse than Alpena, my hometown, so I met people that introduced me to new music. A big reason though, is because of everything that’s been going on in our country lately: police brutality, my generation getting more involved in political activism, and of course, the election of Donald Trump. I consider “We The People” by A Tribe Called Quest to be my gateway song—it is SO telling of what is going on in our country’s treatment of people of color, specifically the black community. It was also one of the few songs I heard this year that made me stop and go, “wow, this song is going to be looked back on as a classic someday.” From there, I started listening to modern hip hop artists, as well as those from back in the day like De La Soul, the Fugees, etc. thus igniting a new appreciation for rap and hip-hop.
Lastly, and arguably most importantly, I took even more time this year to listen to female artists. Locally and nationally, the music scene tends to be dominated by men, so I make sure that I try to get more and more women musicians on my music radar. Favorites I had on repeat last year include: Kitten Forever (who absolutely crush it live), Skating Polly (whose members are all under 21!), Sunflower Bean, Girlpool, Chastity Belt, The Breeders, The Slits, and local favorites like Sojii and Tonia Bug. Tonia is amazing as a solo artist, having seen her kick ass at a Planned Parenthood benefit show at the Pyramid Scheme last year, though I wish I could’ve had the chance to see her perform in The Lippies when they were still together. Her performance of Thelma and Louise (a personal favorite) on the ukulele sufficed. At that same show, I also got to see Lipstick Jodi play for the first time. It was a great experience being in the same room as so many people supporting Planned Parenthood while singing along with LJ’s “That’s So Great.” This year, I hope to see Sojii, Reggie, Twin Flame, and any other women-led bands that make their way into 2018.
Honorable mentions played shamelessly on repeat include: Superfreak by Rick James (one of drunk Andrea’s favorites), Notorious by Duran Duran (because who doesn’t go on 80s kicks every now and again), and Groove Is In The Heart by Deee-Lite (featuring Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest, who knew?).
Zac Abid, Contributor
2017 was a weird year for me, personally, academically, and musically. Going into 2017, I lost a bunch of friends, most of my musical projects fell apart, and I found myself trudging into the 6th year of my undergraduate degree. Somehow I decided that the only way to fill this vacuum was to work full-time. I became an assistant manager at a discount retailer whose name I will leave unmentioned (I will say however that its name contained the word ‘dollar’). As I confronted (some would say ignored) the uncertainties of my future I fell back on old favorites and classic artists whose discographies I didn’t think I could trawl any more deeply.
Anyone whose met me knows that The Smashing Pumpkins will always top my classics list, and this one is no exception. At some point this year I took it upon myself to compile a playlist of my favorite Pumpkins b-sides. My valiant attempt failed gloriously, and I ended up making a series of impossible cuts to my playlist just to fit it onto a single CD. Still, my list included dumb angsty rockers like “Dross,” the regretful ballad “Annie Dog,” the starry-eyed and innocent “Whir,” and the sublimely romantic “Let Me Give the World to You.” Fortunately my love of this band wasn’t entirely retrospective this year. William Patrick Corgan (FKA Billy) released a collection of solo acoustic cuts and subtle piano ballads titled “Ogilala.” Anthony Fantano described at least one of these tracks as “full of hot air,” but I must love hot air because I thought it was a great record. Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin released a jazz record titled “The Parable,” and that also blew me away. Jimmy Chamberlin has been consistently praised for his jazz-influenced style as a member of the Pumpkins, so it was a dream come true for me to finally hear his playing on a straight up jazz record.
Coming in at an extremely close second on my list of eternal favorites is the entire collection of music released by Omar Rodriguez Lopez and Cedric Bixler Zavala, of the bands At the Drive In and The Mars Volta. At the Drive In was extremely active last year, releasing their comeback record “Interalia,” an album that I was pretty disappointed with but still played the hell out of. That was no surprise, more for the fact that my experience with At the Drive In has been peppered more by disappointment than anything else. I’ve seen At the Drive In live four times, but just to achieve this feat I’ve had them cancel their shows on me three other times. With that in mind, it wasn’t hard for me to chalk this up as an off-year for these guys. But to my surprise, they released their “Diamante EP,” just six months after their reunion album. Even more to my disbelief, was that this EP was excellent. Within the scope of just three songs, the band managed to capture a sound unlike any of their previous records. It sounds surprisingly distinct from “Interalia” as well, where the band tried to chase their original sonic blueprint 20 years after the fact. “Diamante” does not sound like the At the Drive In of old, but it does sound like something their original discography implies. Omar Rodriguez Lopez was prolific on his own this year as well, continuing to release a torrent of 23 solo records that began in 2016. Unfortunately 75% of it was garbage, but the 25% of it that’s not trash blew me away. The notable albums this year were “Azul, Mis Dientes,” an album of experimental pop tunes as well as “Zen Thrills,” a genre-discordant concoction of noise, ambient, electronica, and progressive rock.
When I dared to venture outside of my self-imposed musical bubble, I found myself gravitating towards a lot of post-punk. Detroit-based group Protomartyr released “Relatives in Descent,” easily their best record in my opinion. Grand Rapids locals Sojii and Ape Not Kill Ape both released albums that I consider high water marks for the local scene. I also got really into the classic post-punk and art rock band Siouxsie and the Banshees, and I spent much of 2017 listening to any of their first seven records.
Matt Oberski, Contributor
Spending an average of fifty hours per week in the kitchen has greatly influenced my 2017 year-in-review on Spotify. While certain songs do reflect important events or experiences in my life over the past year, most are just from various playlists or albums we played constantly in the kitchen. Some days we played some classic metal bands to kick our asses into gear while prepping for the weekend, others were filled with bass-heavy hip-hop jams with infamous ballads from bands like Creed and Staind thrown in to troll our head chef. My year in review may not directly reflect my musical taste, but it absolutely provides a window into daily life in our kitchen.
“U Guessed It” – OG Maco. This song definitely became an anthem in my life last year. After first hearing this banger in a previous manager’s playlist, our team of chefs rarely go a week without listening to it, or at least yelling the chorus across the kitchen while running for something in the cooler. On any given weekend, OG Maco’s most played song on Spotify is one of the last songs we hear before diving into the dinner rush. Maco’s signature yelling “BITCH, YOU GUESSED IT,” and yelps over that piano-and-bass trap beat never fails to fire us up.
“Down” – Marian Hill. Our head chef attempted to ban us from playing the Philadelphia duo Marian Hill’s “Down” was another song we played nearly every day in the kitchen. At least tried to. While their album Act One was released in 2016, this single saw a lot of commercial and radio play this year, which is how I first heard it. Similar to “U Guessed It” in some ways, the song begins with a piano, this time with vocalist Samantha Gongol’s soft, jazzy voice floating around the melody, asking “Are you down?” before the bass and hi-hats kick in to get everyone in the groove.
“Pool” – tricot. I can’t recall exactly how I discovered tricot, but after hearing “Pool” for the first time, I full-on binged their discography. Whether I was
reading at a coffee shop, planning our Dungeons & Dragons campaign, or just closing down the kitchen at the end of the night, I played the Japanese math-rock trio’s discography for days; their relentless energy, beautiful harmonization, and range of sound still have me mesmerized. Their newest album, 3, was released last year, and does not disappoint.Despite the fact that most of my top plays weren’t released last year, many fantastic albums from 2017 graced my playlist, including Diet Cig’s Swear I’m Good at This, Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN., Paramore’s After Laughter, Code Orange’s Forever, and local heroes Oliver Houston’s Whatever Works.