2013 Music Survey Results

Better late than never. Here are the results of the 2013 Music Survey. I changed scoring this year to include negative points for any mentions for “Least Favorite Song” and a small positive bump for any “Guilty Pleasure” selections.

If you can’t see the embedded box above, the top song for 2013 is “Royals,” by Lorde, followed by “Wake Me Up” (Avicii), “Safe and Sound” (Capital Cities), and “Mirrors” (Justin Timberlake). “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk was probably the most divisive song, with 6 people giving it positive mentions and 3 people claiming it was the devil’s favorite song.

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I originally started this music survey as a way to make a compilation of my college roommate’s favorite songs.  Here  are the compilations from 20122011, and 2010. And here’s a refresher from 2011:

The “FC12 Music Project” started when I wanted to gather favorite songs from my college roommates and their families and turn it into a CD.  We lived in the 12th unit of a somewhat dingy apartment complex called Fountain Circle, hence the name of the project (FC12).  So the final track listing mainly represents songs chosen by them but with some input from friends.

Since 10-11 people are submitting 5 songs each,we have too many songs to choose from to fill 80 minutes. So, while I have some input in how songs are chosen, I follow a priority list to ensure that the music selection is somewhat diverse and not overly affected by my mood at the moment. Here’s the priority list, along with the songs chosen:

1. All #1 selections by Fountain Circlers

Ten songs were chosen using this criterion:

  • Sky Ferreira – Heavy Metal Heart (Criss #1)
  • John Mayer – Wildfire (Andrew #1/Heather #2)
  • Capital Cities – Safe and Sound (Brett #1/Brian #2/Diana#2/Stacy #2/Nadia #4)
  • Justin Timberlake – Suit & Tie (Diana #1)
  • Justin Timberlake – Pusher Love Girl (Heather #1)
  • Justin Timberlake – Mirrors (Brian #1/Blake #5)
  • Taylor Swift – I Knew You Were Trouble. (Nadia #1)
  • Of Monsters and Men – Silhouettes (Stacy #1)
  • Anna Kendrick – Cups (Blake #1)
  • Nine Inch Nails – Came Back Haunted (Dan #1)

A lot of Justin Timberlake, as you can see, which made the running length of these ten songs take up about 2/3 of the album space. And even though I used the radio edit of Mirrors, but at this point we were down to about 25 minutes left.

2. Any marriages or kids get a song.

Brian and Diana married in November, and Dan and Nadia had a baby in December. Brian and Diana chose a song that Dan and I sang at their wedding. It’s a parody of When a Man Loves a Woman. Dan and Nadia chose a nice song by Andrew Bird.

  • Andrew Ishak and Dan Patry – When Brian Met Diana
  • Andrew Bird – If I Needed You

3. Any duplicates on top-5 lists of Fountain Circlers (meaning a song was on 2 or more lists).

This added two songs:

  • Lorde – Royals (Dan #3/Diana#4/Stacy #5)
  • Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Can’t Hold Us (Brian #5/Diana#5)

So at this point we had 17 minutes left.

4. 1 of the 3 most mentioned songs from all friends.

“Royals” and “Safe and Sound” were already chosen, so we were good here.

5. If only one song from a Fountain Circler’s list has been chosen–and they listed 5 songs–an additional song is chosen.

At this point, Brett, Criss and I only had once song each. I knew I would have an editor’s choice, so that left Brett and Criss:

  • Lucius – Tempest (Criss #4)
  • The Neighbourhood – Sweater Weather (Brett #2)

6. Editor’s Choice.

  • The Shins – Simple Song (Andrew #3)

7. Other songs at the editor’s discretion.

  • Daniel Kim – Pop Danthology 2013

 

And there you have it. 18 songs, including a “danthology” which has about 50 songs in it.

My Favorite Music of 2013

Here’s what I’m listening to these days, along with a few exceptions:

1. Songs I feel are safe for my children to listen to. The definition of “safe” varies based on the parents and the kids. For me, “safe” means (for the most part) that I wouldn’t mind if my elementary-school daughter sang the lyrics. One of my favorite songs this year is Phoenix – Trying to Be Cool (10). but “Tell me that you want me, tell me that you want me” is not something I want my 5-year-old singing. Are those the most offensive lyrics for a child to be singing? Of course not! But I can barely handle my kid singing along to Billie Jean. Speaking of things that shouldn’t be near children, here’s a remix of that song with R. Kelly.

2. Folk music–when there’s a guy singing about hills or cold weather or growing old or a country road, all while playing acoustic guitar, blues guitar, and/or mandolin, and your child says: “this song is boring.” I’m underxagerating slightly, but you get what I mean, right? Gregory Alan Isakov – Amsterdam (13), for example. Beautiful song but my kid hates it. Hey, when I was five I didn’t like Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Or Bob Dylan. The Dad Classics. Generally, the Dad Classics are songs your kids don’t appreciate now but might later in life.

ALBUMS. My favorite album of the year is Bankrupt!, by Phoenix, the band from France that sings in English. Besides the aforementioned Trying to Be Cool, I like The Real Thing (6) and Drakkar Noir/Chloroform (2). I am cheating already; Drakkar Noir and Chloroform are two separate tracks, but they go together like…two French things that go together. Croissants and indifference.  These two tracks are in a symbiotic relationship of synthpop and rattling bass. Together they make one of my favorite songs of the year, and so here I cheat by including them as one song.

I also enjoyed HAIM‘s album, especially The Wire (4), Falling (18), and the title track, Days are Gone. And so did my wife. But I’ll tell you what my wife didn’t enjoy: Este’s Bassface:

(source: NBC via Buzzfeed)

My third and final favorite album is John Mayer‘s Paradise Valley, and a classic example of the two types of music I identified earlier coming together. I don’t think it is as intriguing as last year’s album, but I love folk/blues music and I love songs that speak to themes that are family-friendly: friendship, aloneness, aging, discovery, adventure. Dad Music. Take Wildfire (1) at one end and Badge and Gun at the other. The former celebrates the value of togetherness with some slide guitar, the latter has horse clomps and explores aloneness. But both songs are kid-friendly in the sense that togetherness and aloneness are ideas they should explore. So it’s a very good album in that sense. I also like I Will Be Found (17) and Who You Love (9). My daughter thinks that last song is about her and her little brother. It’s cute.

Lastly–and this is probably most important–Mayer is a wizard with the guitar even on the simplest songs, and this is especially apparent at his shows. While it was on last year’s album, I love the extended live version of If I Ever Get Around to Living (Live at Red Rocks) (5), especially the back half. And Call Me The Breeze (14) is a great cover of one of my favorite blues songs by J.J. Cale.

LATE TO THE GAME, BAND EDITION. Here are some songs by popular bands I have never listened to before this year, which makes me an anti-hipster, which I guess makes me really really hip? I don’t know. The National – Pink Rabbits, Arctic Monkeys – Do I Wanna Know?The Shins – Simple Song (3) and No Way Down. All good albums, too.

LATE TO THE GAME, SONG EDITION. Here are some songs from late 2012.

  • Electric Guest – Troubleman (11). 9 minutes of goodness.
  • Lord Huron – Lonesome Dreams (15). Something weird: most of the songs on this album use a AABB rhyming scheme. No really, go take a look at the lyrics. Is that weird? I think it’s weird.
  • Anselmo Ralph – Nao Me Toca. An Angolan dance floor number. No idea what he’s saying, but I think it’s “don’t touch me,” which is a reasonable thing to say in any language.

SONGS TO RUN TO. My favorite songs to run to this year are:

  • deadmau5 – The Veldt. It’s 8 minutes long, which is nice when you are running.
  • Kelly Clarkson – Catch My Breath. No shame.
  • Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – Thrift Shop. Tons of shame. Tons of it. This is the McDonald’s cheeseburger of music.
  • Lorde – Royals (16)  and Team. Are all her songs about how cool things are not cool? Not complaining, just wondering.

VIDEOS. My favorite video of the year is Capital Cities – Safe and Sound. I could watch this 100 times. I have already.

My least favorite video is for the previously mentioned Catch My Breath. DO SOMETHING ELSE, KELLY. Stop standing there for 4 minutes raising your arms in victory. I have a short attention span. Who was the director on this one?

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE. Okay, let’s play a game.

Songwriter A has penned tracks this year that use drugs, bubblegum, and a “spaceship coupe” as metaphors for sex and/or love.
Songwriter B has written songs that use vampires, boxing, murder, and a mental illness as metaphors for sex and/or love.

Which one is Justin Timberlake and which one is R. Kelly?

Wrong, they’re both Justin Timberlake.

Just remember: the next time you make fun of R. Kelly for writing songs called The Zoo, Sex Planet, and Sex Dolphin, remember that Justin Timberlake wrote a song with these lyrics:

Hop into my spaceship coupe
There’s only room for two (Me and you)
And with the top down
We’ll cruise around
Land and make love on the moon
Would you like that?

Hmm. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just dadsing out here, but are those useful lyrics for anyone over 15 years old and/or anyone who isn’t an astronaut? I’m not anti-metaphor. You could say I think metaphors are the spice of life, like in Kacey Musgraves – Silver Lining (12). Musgraves uses every single folk saying in one song but makes it sound right–I don’t know how, but maybe it’s that sweet voice of hers.

 

OTHER SONGS I LOVED THIS YEAR.

    • Tegan and Sara – Closer (7)
    • Andrew Belle –  Sister (8)

  • Sara Bareilles – Satellite Call (20), December, and Islands
  • Autre Ne Veut – Play by Play. Hold on buddy. Buy me a drink first.

  • The 1975 – Chocolate
  • HAERTS – Wings
  • CHVRCHES – The Mother We Share. I guess we’re using all caps now, every band? Is that what we’re doing?
  • Typhoon – Hunger and Thirst. “Take your genres and shove them!” is what I imagine this band saying, right before they break up because no radio station will play their music.
  • Delta Rae – Bottom of the River. This is an enjoyable video for such a heavy song.

  • Washed Out – All I Know
  • Jillette Johnson – Torpedo
  • Phosporescent – Song for Zula
  • Vampire Weekend – Step
  • Postiljonen – Supreme

 

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2013 College Football 8-Team Playoff

It’s been a fun college football season. Here’s how my proposed system would keep the season going with an opinion-free* 8-team playoff:

*The reason I say this is opinion-free is because every team would go into each season knowing exactly who makes the playoff: the six top-rated conference champions and next two highest-rated teams, as determined by a quantitative formula that only knows which teams won and which teams lost–no “this team looks better,” or “that team would win in a rematch.” 

WATCHABLE. Is it exactly what I would have wanted? Well, I wouldn’t choose a rematch between Michigan St. and Ohio St. in the first round. Maybe there could be a rule that says two teams from the same conference cannot play in the quarterfinals. But in any case, Ohio St. was the higher-rated team coming into the Big Ten Championship Game, and now the Spartans beat them for the right to host a playoff game against them at home (it sure beats the alternative, which is playing in an exhibition against Stanford in Pasadena).

I like the in-state Florida matchup. The #1 seed vs. the de facto Cinderella of this tournament. If NIU had beaten Bowling Green, they would have earned the right to be here.

Not that it matters what I think in a system like this, but I think these are the correct 8 teams. Every other team in the entire country except Northern Illinois has 2 or more losses, and NIU had that chance to get in had they beaten Bowling Green this past weekend. 6 teams in this bracket have 1 loss; Stanford has 2, and Florida State has none so far. So I like this bracket because that essentially means that every team in the FBS had a chance to make it to the National Championship (honestly, does NIU or UCF have a chance in the current system or the future 4-team playoff, even if they went undefeated?). The best conference champs are in, and two teams that can say “hey, we just had one-slip up” are in as well. Fair, in my opinion.

In any case, I’m looking forward to some of the bowl games. I guess. But not really. See all 5 of you who read this next season!

College Football Week 14 – AI Score

It’s strange to think how much effect the media has on who plays for the BCS National Championship. Right after Auburn stunned Alabama on Saturday, the discourse around who would play for the all the Xochtils focused on if a 1-loss SEC champion would be more deserving than an undefeated Ohio State. And that’s a fine and valid conversation, except that when it happens on ESPN and in other mainstream media outlets, it actually has an effect on who could play (communication majors everywhere are like “SEE!!! WE MATTER.”). Remember, a huge component of who ends up playing in that game is what people think of how good those teams are. It’s very likely that at least one voter changes his or her mind based on the fact that ESPN is framing the conversation this way.

Why is Ohio State being picked on and not Florida State? Yes, I think Florida State has had more top-flight opponents and has looked more impressive, but I don’t think looking impressive is a qualification for a national championship. It doesn’t matter how you win in any major American sport, so why college football?  The fact is that most rankings have Ohio State’s scheduleranked as more difficult than Florida State’s. So why is the SEC picking on Ohio State as the undeserving team? Because that’s the narrative that is more likely to stick, given how the Jameis Winston coverage and how the Seminoles have beaten opponents.

It’s a sad way to run a championship sport. Who plays for the championship should be based solely on how many games you win, how many games you lose, and who you beat–in other words, the objective quality of your opponents.  Subjectivity should never be a part of it because then we are judging teams based on tradition, how they played last year, style of play, if they played their starters the whole game, et cetera. The conversation about an SEC 1-loss champ versus an undefeated Big Ten/ACC champ should be a side conversation to the actual playoff entry format, not an input to it.

By the way, this won’t be solved by the playoff next year. You’ll still have lobbying as a way to affect who the selection committee puts in the 4-team playoff.

Below are my ratings for Week 14. A summary of my proposed playoff: top 6 conference champs plus the next two highest-rated teams. Top 4 conference champs host the other 4 teams at home on college campuses on December 21. Semifinals and Championship are incorporated into existing bowl rotation.

The teams in bold are potential conference champions that can win out to win the National Championship. These top 6 teams can host a first round game.

  • #1 Ohio State. Beat #12 Michigan State for the Big Ten title and you’re the #1 seed.
  • #2 Florida State. Beat #18 Duke for the ACC title and you’re probably the #2 seed.
  • #3/#4 Auburn/Missouri. Whoever wins is the SEC champ and probably the #3 seed.
  • #5/#6 Arizona State/Stanford. Whoever wins is the PAC 12 champ and probably the #4 seed.

The next grouping are of teams that can win their way into the eight-team playoff:

  • #9 Northern Illinois. Beat #61 Bowling Green and you’re in.
  • #12 Michigan State. Beat #1 Ohio State and you’re in.
  • #13 Oklahoma State. Beat #28 Oklahoma and you’re in.
  • #18 Duke. Beat #2 Florida State and you’re in.

 Our top 6 conference champions are likely to come from this group. If NIU or Oklahoma State lose, then the next highest-rated conference champ could be Baylor, Central Florida, or even Texas. It’s a longshot for any of those teams, but that’s the fun of sports. Sometimes a team sneaks in and surprises us.

Then we have our 2 at-large teams. If Ohio State or Florida State lose, they would drop from a #1/#2 seed to the back half of the bracket, which is fair, given that it would be their first loss. No hosting for them. The other possible at-large teams are the SEC title game loser and Alabama. So, SEC lovers, you might still have 3 teams in there, which I think could be fair given the strength of the top of the conference.

So, if the higher-rated teams win out, here’s what we would get on December 21:

  • 8-seed Oklahoma State at 1-seed Ohio State in Columbus on FOX at 12:30 pm EST
  • 7-seed Northern Illinois at 2-seed Florida State in Tallahassee on ESPN at 4 pm EST
  • 6-seed Alabama at 3-seed Auburn in Auburn on CBS at 7:30 pm EST
  • 5-seed Missouri at 4-seed Arizona State in Tempe on ABC at 11 pm EST

I would watch those!

 

College Football Week 10 – AI Score

If the season ended today, here’s how the top 4 championship games would be set up::

  • ACC Championship Game: #1 Florida St. vs. #10 Miami
  • Big 10 Championship Game: #5 Ohio St. vs. #21 Michigan St.
  • Pac 12 Championship Game: Winner of #4 Stanford/#3 Oregon (tomorrow night on ESPN) vs. #16 Arizona St.
  • SEC Championship Game: #2 Alabama vs. #6 Missouri
Obviously, there are so many ways this season can go–starting with the game tomorrow night–but let’s say the higher seeds win out. In my fictional college football universe (featuring an 8 team playoff with the 6 highest-rated champions), the top half of the 8-team playoff would be:
  • ACC Champion Florida St., probably at #1
  • SEC Champion Alabama, probably at #2
  • Pac 12 Champion Oregon, probably at #3
  • Big 10 Champion Ohio State, probably at #4
That’s a great top half. And in this fictional universe, those 4 teams would host quarterfinals in their home stadiums around Dec 18 to 21. The four visiting teams would be:
  • The next best conference champion, which would likely be Baylor, at #11 right now
  • The next next best conference champion, which would likely be Fresno State. However, if they lose, their SOS is so weak that they would drop below  Northern Illinois, the next best likely champion. But NIU’s SOS is also so weak that it’s possible they could be jumped by the American champ, Houston or Central Florida. It’s not likely, but it’s possible.
  • The next two best at-large teams. It’s Stanford and Missouri right now, but with losses to Oregon and Alabama, respectively, it could be any number of teams: Clemson, Auburn, South Carolina, Miami, or BYU.
I’m looking forward to all the great games on tap in November and early December, starting with Stanford and Oregon tomorrow night!