If there's one thing we know about music, it's that people like to listen to it. Sometimes, increasingly, they like to listen to it over streaming services like Spotify, which has spent the year in the spotilight as it has started to turn a profit, been at the center of discussions about how artists can make money, and feuded at various points with Taylor Swift.
Given all that listening that occurs on Spotify, the company has a shit ton of data that's helpful for telling us what people are really listening to, where they are listening from, when they are listening, etc. We can look at some of this information on a rolling basis and determine, for instance, that people can't stop listening to "All About That Bass." But now the company has shared the highlights of 2014, and we can determine even more. Like the fact that the biggest song of the year in the US was Iggy Azalia's "Fancy," the most streamed album worldwide was Ed Sheeran's x, and the breakout genre of the year was something Spotify made up called Metropopolis.
Metropopolis is a genre that includes Charli XCX, St. Vincent, and Bleachers. It has the distinction of being a word that has never been used by anyone except for Spotify algorithm-makers Echo Nest and two people who like a misspelled version of the movie Metropolis on Facebook. I can imagine that this will soon change because another popular name for this genre is "music that is slightly cooler and more alternative than large-scale pop" or "music that sounds good in ads and stuff." But beyond the discovery of a new genre, what else lies buried in the Spotify year-end report, which you can scan for yourself here?
Well, Coldplay was the world's top group, Ed Sheeran was the world's top male artist, and Katy Perry was the world's top female artist. The song played most on repeat was something called "Shine" by Benjamin Francis Leftwich. It is kind of a garbage song, but it is harmless, and I can see why people would play it on repeat. In the winter, people listened to Pharrell's "Happy," in the spring, people listened to John Legend's "All of Me," in the summer people listened to Magic!'s "Rude," and in the fall people listened to Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass." For reference:
The song that was popular in the United States relative to the rest of the world, according to the globe graphic at the bottom of the page, was Childish Gambino's "3005." I think this means that Childish Gambino is the most popular artist in the US who is not popular globally, which means, by extension, that Childish Gambino is the greatest American.
Remember, these lists are objective data as to who is the best, as determined by popularity. All of these are rankings of the best things in their respective categories. Anyway, here are some of the lists, more of which can be found here:
Spotify's Top 5 Male Artists Globally:
1. Ed Sheeran
3. Calvin Harris
5. David Guetta
Spotify's Top 5 Female Artists Globally:
1. Katy Perry
2. Ariana Grande
3. Lana Del Rey
Spotify's Top 5 Groups Globally:
2. Imagine Dragons
3. Maroon 5
4. One Republic
5. One Direction
Spotify's Top 5 Breakout Artists Globally:
2. Royal Blood
3. Tove Lo
4. Future Islands
Spotify's Top 5 Albums Globally:
1. Ed Sheeran - x
2. Sam Smith - In the Lonely Hour
3. Iggy Azalea - The New Classic
4. Pharrell Williams - G I R L
5. Ariana Grande - My Everything
Spotify's Top 10 Songs in the US:
1. "Fancy" by Iggy Azalea
2. "Problem" by Ariana Grande
3. "Summer" by Calvin Harris
4. "Chandelier" by Sia
5. "All About That Bass" by Meghan Trainor
6. "Stay With Me" by Sam Smith
7. "Break Free" by Ariana Grande
8. "Bang Bang" by Jessie J
9. "Maps" by Maroon 5
10. "A Sky Full of Stars" by Coldplay
Feeling up on culture now? Go listen to some metropopolis.