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Music of the Year, 2023

Discoveries, not just songs, of '23. Only two can win.

2023's Best Music (banner)

There was a big debate among “end of the year” music playlisters. Not that big, five people. If a song wasn’t released that year, can it be included in an end of the year playlist? Should it be included? The consensus of the 5 was it cannot and should not. I disagree.

Songs released that year should be prioritized and age of release should be weighed in, but discoveries of the year are just as important as when they were released.

Before we get to 2023’s music of the year, this year for the first time I wanted to start highlighting the music curators as well. This was the first year I actively sought them out. Usually I rely too heavily on recommendation systems, but a mix of the two is optimal.

SXSW was the most influential event. A good dozen artists are on this year’s Music of the Year playlist. NPR Music’s Best Songs of 2023 had the best end of year list. So much I’m going through all of their other Best Songs of the Year playlists. There are 9 total on Spotify. As far as quality music curators I followed throughout 2023: Saving Connie, Ladman, and Somewhere Soul. Also, shout out to my two good friends, Carl & Levi, who took their playlists as serious as I did.

As for the music, Pale Jay topped this best songs playlist. His voice, unlike most of the other many soulful vocals on this playlist, brought soul forward rather than taking it back. Strongboi had the single. Jungle was my #1 artist on Spotify Wrapped. And Jessie Ware had the best album of the year.

NFTs were my favorite tech last year, and took the cover for our Music of the Year playlist in 2022. This year, it’s AI generated. There’s a song on this playlist that was also AI generated. Can you tell which one?

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The Wedding Playlists: A Dinner & Celebration

A comprehensive list of dance & soul music for your wedding mix

I’ve prepared a few playlists for wedding receptions & dinners over the past few years, so since I just had a wedding of my own, to celebrate I finalized those playlists here. It’s centered around millennials since I’m a millennial but covers at least the last 60 years of mostly American pop music and a few important tangents.

There’s music I intentionally left out. The music doesn’t focus on the stereotypical wedding songs, but there’s still quite a few in there–the same point my first wedding party playlist tried to make, Not UR Typical Wedding DJ. If I missed something send it to me. I’ll try to keep this playlist fresh with some of your selections.

These wedding playlists aren’t meant to be ordered to play through, though they could, but more for you to pull from a comprehensive list that will be a good start to any wedding music. I spent too many hours going through too many other playlists, hopefully this will eventually become a one-stop shop. I’ve already got over 10 hours of music on these two, let along the Bachelorette playlist.

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Music of the Year, 2022

featuring Luna Li, Rema, and Bill Evans++

More than music this year, web3 has been what I’ve chosen/had to immerse myself in to pay the bills, including this bill. I’ve especially fallen in love with NFTs for what they can do for music and other communities. The first NFT I ever bought was a project by Channel Tres & omgkirby and my second one is the picture above, called “The Journey” by Valfré.

Festivals have been the highlights in music for me for at least the past 10 years I’ve been in The Bay. This year especially had some really good concerts with two performers at the top of my “Music of the Year” list – Luna Li and Rema. My third top is Bill Evans, but unfortunately, he’s been dead for some time. I found him through my Late Night Jazz research and he would’ve made up half of the list if that was acceptable for a public playlist.

The hardest thing about making a playlist is what not to include. I can appreciate that Fred Wilson kept it to about a dozen, but it’s 82 this year for me. Wish there was a way to highlight my top 10 on Spotify. It’s not necessarily the first ones on the list.

What’s your favorite tune of 2022? from this list or otherwise.

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Late Night Jazz

Featuring mostly Bill Evans

There’s nothing I want more at night than some good jazz. I never set aside enough time consistently to get away. Hoping this helps.

I’ve wanted to make a jazz playlist for far too long. I almost kind of did, twice. I always focused too much on the electronic/hip-hop inspired beats. They have the qualities of jazz, but were ultimately more than that. I finally took the time to find nothing but jazz or at least most of it.

To start off this list, Bill Evans– who may be my favorite artist of this year, even though he’s long gone.

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Feelin’ Good as Hell Vibes

featuring Nina Simone, Lizzo and The Beach Boys

I made this for a friend a few months ago that wanted a playlist with uplifting music. It feels like a compliment to my Keep Calm playlist, which was for when we went into the pandemic, and this is the outro, hopefully.

The silly reason I never posted this playlist on Silence before is that I couldn’t find good art for it. Then comes along Midjourney, something similar to DALI-2, that can generate images based off a string of text, and presto here she is! Guess what my input text was.

The title is based on the first three songs of this list.

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Music of the Year, 2021

Doja Cat was my #1, but Lost in Riddim defined the year

It’s been over 12 years since starting Silence and I’ve done quite a few playlists summing up each year’s “best music”, but I’ve taken this year a bit more seriously. I haven’t been able to keep up posting every song that’s been stuck up in my head this past year, but I’ll start making a habit to at least get it in a yearly round up like the one below.

I’ve been pretty on & off on this “blog” over the years with having a definitive Music of the Year playlist (I plan to go back), but I’ve kept track of my #1 musician more intentionally since 2014. That year it was Doja Cat with her Purrr! EP and this year it’s Doja again for so much more. Which I’ll need another seven years to unpack. But even more than Doja, seeing an afrobeats festival live was my most defining moment of 2021.

It’s crazy how most of my music discovery has been online over the past 25 years (since Napster), but the one thing I’ve learned writing for Silence Nogood is how much more influential it is seeing a musician live. I didn’t get to more than a few festivals in 2021, mostly because of the pandemic, but one festival influenced this best of 2021 playlist the greatest, Lost in Riddim. It introduced me to afrobeats on a level like I’ve never been introduced to any music culture in one weekend. It was a 20 act crash-course into the world’s hotspot in music right now.

The playlist is just over 10% afrobeats and nothing but dance and soul music. I’ve played this list of 50 songs over 50 times all the way through to trim it down as much possible – it started with over 100. That’s days of listening straight to only a few handfuls of music and I never got sick of any one of these 50.

A special thanks to Liz for being my third and fourth ear on this list. And everyone else listening with me over 12 years++ Sincerely, thank you. Many more to come o_0

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Pops, listen to this

A mix of old soul and new

I haven’t made many personal playlists for people, but I’m moving in that direction with technologies making it much easier. Imagine if Spotify or some other music service made it so simple to compare your music taste with someone close to you and serve up suggestions, building something that constantly updates based on each of your moods, new music, new connections, and so much else.

Until then, here’s a static playlist I made for my pops for Father’s day. I actually don’t call him father or pops, so here’s to you dad: a mix of old soul to get familiar with again and new soul that’s already among the greats for me, and hopefully one day for you too. Thanks for introducing me to the music that inspired what I love today!

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Keep Calm (Don’t Panic)

For when our world is going to shit

The first 50 or so songs (up to Prince) were meant to tell a story of our physically distant lives, but all the rest are here to keep you calm. I hope it helps when things go to shit. Or when you just need to relax.

Inspired by brandonstosuy.

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Kisses Sweet

Maybe you give me... (a love playlist)

I probably screwed this up and included some heartbreak song. It’s not about the lyrics when I select. Always the feeling.

A few weeks ago, my girlfriend said all I had was heartache playlists and nothing for love (a few exceptions,) so here one is. For her, Miz Liz. She inspires me as much as this music.

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77 “Bittersweet” Sad Soul Songs

SG Lewis' fans compiled some of the saddest songs with soul

SG Lewis asked his Twitter followers what were their favourite sad soul songs. Similar to what I did with brokemogul’s “Best Music Documentaries,” I took over 100 responses and compiled it down to 77 songs.

What I love about this list is how deeply personal and eclectic it is. It comes from over 100 different people who have the same purpose in mind and some level of love for SG Lewis but are probably pretty different otherwise. I removed a few songs that didn’t fit and some late 80’s/early 90’s R&B, but I tried to keep too much of my bias out of it.

It was hard to define what’s sad and what’s soul music. Or what’s old for that matter. Some songs may sound happy – Sam Cooke’s “Good Times” is a good example – but can be used just as well for sad times. The Twitter responses pushed the boundaries of what soul music can be defined as, which I can appreciate to a certain point (it’s still a good song.)

My biggest conflict was not including Angie Stone’s “Wish I Didn’t Miss You” and it’s for the most childish reason. Seriously, wait for it. I swear there’s a random fart noise every measure or so. Or am I just making this shit up? First one starts 14 seconds in. It’s an otherwise genuinely beautiful song.

SG Lewis still has yet to post his own sad soul song. Maybe we can get 77 more in the next year with his choice included.

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