Unwrapping my Spotify Unwrapped: The Songs that Defined my 2019

I started using Spotify in April 2019 so this is my first experience with Spotify Unwrapped. It was somewhat of an eye-opening experience because I never realised how blind I was to my own listening habits. My top songs often took me back to a specific place at a specific time whether I was interrailing or studying. As a music student I’m often asked what kind of music I like and even though, “a little bit of everything,” sounds like a bland and generic answer, nothing could describe it better. Despite the music student status, I write very little about my personal music preferences on my blog, something that might change for 2020. So whilst I haven’t written strictly about my Top 10 most played songs of 2019, I’ve picked a few that meant a lot to me this year as an introduction to what is often stuck in my head.

Being the tech-savvy blogger that I am, I’ve even curated a playlist consisting of the songs that I’ve mentioned in this blog post, which you can check out just below. Listen to it before, during or after reading this post but I’d highly recommend paying attention to them all at some point. Maybe you’ll think differently about them to me or maybe they’ll be on your own Top Songs of 2020.

Roddy – Djo

I’ve played this song so many times at work that everyone else has had no choice but to fall in love with it or become increasingly irritated by it. Roddy is such a groovy song and is my favourite kind of bop. There’s an old school feel to it that makes me sway my hips around and bob my head, even whilst waiting to cross the road. It’s the perfect kind of feel-good song and was a major part of my Summer.

It was the one of the first songs that I listened to repeatedly that wasn’t deeply rooted in my emo phase or predominantly orchestral. I honestly believe that Roddy has also influenced my fashion choices a bit as sometimes I’ll put on an outfit (generally involving a vintage shirt) that feels like it matches the vibe of the song. I associate it with Summer in particular as I had a bit of a staycation when I was in Edinburgh Oor Wullie hunting and listened to it on repeat whilst exploring the city.

Give Thanks – Martin Phipps, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the Latvian Radio Choir

My most listened to song of 2019 was Give Thanks from the soundtrack of the BBC adaptation of War and Peace. Spotify informed me that I listened to the album for 48 hours this year, and whilst I knew it would be a lot, I was still a little shocked. That all being said, Give Thanks is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard. There is something about it that has a calming effect on me and I often listen to it when I’m extremely stressed.

It gives me an overwhelming sense of peace and as someone who hates breathing exercises, it is one of the few things that can help me calm down if I’m about to have a panic attack. The entire War and Peace album made it onto my Top 100 Songs of 2019, with other favourites including Nikolai and St. Petersburg. War and Peace became a core aspect of interrailing for me as on my trip I was reading the book, watching the series and listening to the soundtrack. No matter which European city was in, a part of me was still thinking about Moscow in 1805.

Time in a Tree – Raleigh Ritchie

I discovered Raleigh Ritchie through my YouTube recommendations and recognising Grey Worm from Game of Thrones, I clicked on it. It’s such an easy-listening song and I can relate to the lyrics about time running away. It’s the kind of song I’ll listen to in bed in the mornings to take a pause before a busy day starts. As I discovered Time in a Tree fairly early on in the year, it’s a song that’s been with me throughout 2019. I then stumbled across another of Raleigh Ritchie’s songs called Bloodsport which I also adore as it too has the mellowness from his voice. I’ve found it to be a great genre to study to as I can have it on in the background and not be too distracted by it.

Easier – 5 Seconds of Summer

One of my favourite memories from this year if of sitting in the Chotkovy Gardens in Prague with one of my best friends gazing at a view of the city, listening to this song. Easier is a (not so) guilty pleasure for us both because despite no longer being aged 14, we both still love 5 Seconds of Summer. I think it’s the simplicity of the song. There’s a contrast to the melodic vocals and the extremely rhythmic accompaniment but there’s never a whole lot going on at once.

Apparently I listened to a lot of 5SOS this year, with them being my top artist after those who created the War and Peace soundtrack which admittedly that made me laugh. I do like their newer sound as it’s a lot less teen sounding from when I first started listening to them. I have a sense of nostalgia with 5 Seconds of Summer because as their sound has grown and evolved, so have I.

Dirty Laundry – All Time Low

If I had had Spotify over a year ago, Dirty Laundry would probably have been in my top 10 every year since its release. It takes me back to my first year of university when I would listen to it on repeat as I walked to class in the morning and whilst it wasn’t the best time of my life, this song is one of things that helped me through it. It’s one of my personal hype songs that genuinely makes me feel better whenever I listen to it. I would also like to thank Alex Gaskarth for his voice because when he starts singing at the beginning of the song, I die a little inside every time. I still listen to this song on repeat whilst walking to uni because let’s face it, it can still be a struggle to get through some days.

Follow You – Bring Me the Horizon

Another of my top listened to artists of 2019 was Bring Me the Horizon. I listened to them a lot when going to and from my class at Kings and when walking alone at night because I feel more powerful and less scared.There’s a contrast between the chorus and verse which I love and it’s the type of music I like to listen to when I’m alone as I’ll generally create my own story with it.

I remember when I first noticed the guitar part that accompanies the verse as it changed my perspective of the song and made it one of my favourites on the album. It’s the guitar part that accompanies the verses that meant I fell in love with this song. If you listen to the lyrics you can understand it’s still a type of love song but different to that written by Lewis Capaldi. “Because I’m under your spell,” are some lyrics in particular are what got me hooked on this song because they relate to me when I’ve been in relationships in the past. It’s not something I’ve proud of because I never want to “follow someone” and it’s probably why I listened to it a lot this year, to remind myself of that.

God is a woman – Ariana Grande

I am aware that there is a lack of female artists in this blog post but I’m going to blame the fact that as I’ve been playing the cello for so long I subconsciously prefer the lower register. I was never a particular fan of Ariana Grande up until Sweetener came out. It was like she knew what I had needed to hear at that time of my life and had released music to help me through it.

God is a woman is a particular song that made me feel empowered at a time when I felt at a bit of a loss with myself. I was really struggling with a lack of confidence and my mental health issues that were affecting me constantly. Along with no tears left to cry these songs helped me overcome this when I needed it. It’s something that I’ve evidently carried through to 2019 and I listen to God is a woman when I’ve needed that little extra boost of confidence.

Lonely Hours – Mallory Knox

Mallory Knox has been in my life since 2013 when they released their debut album Signals. Asymmetry followed in 2014 and I loved it just as much, if not more. Earlier this year, around April, I stumbled across the Asymmetry again. It was like listening to it for the first time, a somewhat unique experience that doesn’t usually happen more than once. Songs I didn’t remember as well were now my favourites, Lonely Hours being the best example of it. Mikey Chapman was one of my favourite vocalists years ago and I still love his voice.

I don’t know what it is about Lonely Hours that makes me love it so much. I think the familiarity of it is something that reassures me and it’s a song that can affect I feel depending on how I am at the time. The way Mikey sings is so powerful and I find myself listening to it when I’m feeling overwhelmed. All of Mallory Knox generally makes me feel like this but it’s Lonely Hours in particular that has held a special place in my heart for the past year.

Someone You Loved – Lewis Capaldi

The fact that Lewis Capaldi released his debut album two days after I got dumped was unfortunate and I couldn’t bring myself to listen to it for weeks. I think I speak for everyone when I say that he has the voice of an angel and his Scottish accent is dreamy. The album is wonderful but Someone You Loved will always be one of my favourite because it’s #relatable. It’s not unusual for me to cry whilst listening to it despite hearing it a hundred times before.

Admittedly, I don’t listen to ballads particularly often but Lewis Capaldi is an exception to that. I’m so happy that he’s in the world because his personality shines through his music and Instagram stories and it seems to have a positive affect on almost everyone. I still hope that I run into him in the streets of Edinburgh or on a night out in Hive but I might be kidding myself a little.

Lights Up – Harry Styles

As Lights Up was only released in October 2019, it’s definitely the newest song on my Most Listened to this year. I remembering coming into work and just asking all my friends if they had it because I could not stop gushing. I remember when Harry Styles auditioned on X Factor years ago and I believe he has truly blossomed since then and I’m so happy for him. I’ve been a fan of his solo music since Sign of the Times and I’m excited to see where his future musical endeavours take him.

As Lights Up was only released in October 2019, it’s definitely the newest song on my Most Listened to this year. I remembering coming into work and just asking all my friends if they had it because I could not stop gushing. I remember when Harry Styles auditioned on X Factor years ago and I believe he has truly blossomed since then and I’m so happy for him. I’ve been a fan of his solo music since Sign of the Times and I’m excited to see where his future musical endeavours take him.

Me & You – Marmozets

It’s been almost two years since I saw Marmozets at the Liquid Rooms in Edinburgh and it’s still one of the best gigs I’ve ever been too. Like with Mallory Knox, they’re a band that I found during my emo years and never lost a love for. Marmozets have a female vocalist (bonus point because her name is Becca) which can bring a dreamier sound to the song that I doubt could be achieved in the same way with a male vocalist.

Me & You was one of my heartbreak songs from early in the year when my relationship ended. It was a lullaby to me and I did listen to it a lot as I cried myself to sleep. However I’ve come a long way since then and only associate it with that time on occasion. Instead I relate it to the relationship I have with myself rather than the one I have with another person. As with a lot of the songs in this list, they change the narrative of the way that I think.

2019 was an incredible year for my listening habits, despite how unaware of them I was, as it’s the year that I properly expanded on what I was listening to. I’ve been getting back into going into gigs and starting to feel inspired by music again. The thing with studying music is sometimes (for me) it can become a bit of a chore instead of something that I love, detached from all forms of analysis.

At university I’m constantly surrounded by musical people who love writing and playing music and it’s something that I’ve fallen out of whilst studying. I’m inspired by my friends and their love for the art and I want to take that inspiration into a practical sense and get my cello out of its case more than once every few months. I’m encouraged by the music I listen to whether it be from the lyrics or the way it makes me feel and I just need to let it influence me in the right direction.

I’ve loved rediscovering bands I used to love because a lot of the time, I now think of them in completely different way. I contextualise myself and my life by relating it to music, fashion and art as it feels like I’m placing myself in my own eras. 2019 has marked the beginning of a new one for me which is broader and feels really exciting. Even if things like uni aren’t going according to plan all the time, I feel like when it comes to personal development I’m right on track and exploring the different aspects of increasingly complex personality.

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