Ivan from Noteworthy here again (Mondays, 6PM-8PM). You’ve seen me do all kinds of playlist breakdowns and favorite song introductions here on the blog, but I thought I might try something different. For this month, I’d like to share my most played tracks, according to Last.fm. With this list, there’s no hiding behind any wall of cool. Just an unfiltered look at what I genuinely sought out over the course of the past 30-31 days, whether it was old or new. For some context, here are some champs from previous months.
February 2021: The Dears – “Play Dead”
This was around the time I was doing some 2020 catch up and it just happened to be one of the standouts in the sea of tracks I was swimming in.
June 2021: Chocolate Genius Inc. – “My Mom”
As much as I love his 2001 album, Godmusic, I had never really delved into his previous one, Black Music, which put Marc Anthony Thompson’s career on the map. I just happened to find this track and — not exaggerating at all — it stopped me cold the first time I heard it. It’s one of the most devastating things I’d ever heard and I kept feeling a need to go back. The pain of watching a loved one slowly decline is an unbearable experience and this is done with notable grace and subtlety.
I’ll share the details of how a track from the Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo soundtrack became one of my most listened to songs for another time. Let’s take a look at the top three tracks for September.
#1. “Amsterdam” from Passing Strange Original Broadway Cast Recording
For the longest, I considered Into The Woods my favorite musical (I’m talking stage version, not the sanitized Rob Marshall/Disney adaptation). I could simply say “Stephen Sondheim” without going into much detail as to why, but it had just the right balance of cleverness and emotional pull that gets me every time. As I’m getting older, I think I’m starting to become more of a Passing Strange guy. It wonderfully commentates on the Black American experience by spending most of its time in Europe and “Amsterdam” is one of the key moments. Don’t be surprised to see songs from this musical pop up from time to time on these lists.
#2 Tasha – “Perfect Wife” -TIE-
I haven’t quite figured out what to do when several songs are tied with the same amount of plays, so I’m just going to use this platform to highlight some of the lesser-known ones (Doja Cat’s “Need To Know” is doing just fine when it comes to streams). Even better, I get to put the spotlight on a Chicago artist. Tasha is gearing up to release her next album, Tell Me What You Miss Most on Nov. 5, and she recently released a video for the first single “Perfect Wife.” The track and visuals are several kinds of charming. Sidenote: I swear I’m not covertly trying to infuse musicals into the UIC Radio ecosystem, but check out those Fosse vibes towards the end!
#2 Nao – “Wait” -TIE- (mildly NSFW)
When Nao slows it down, you best pay attention. The one common trait that I’m discovering across three very good albums is that my favorite songs of hers lowers the tempo (see “Blue Wine”, “Another Lifetime” and “Saturn”, to name a few). “Wait” might eventually become my favorite overall.
Listen to Noteworthy with Ivan on Mondays from 6PM-8PM at uicradio.org