It’s both the blessing and the curse of sites like this that they’re only considered as good as the songs they feature. Include some buried treasure of a B Side or an unreleased track that’s been forgotten by all but the writer and the reader, and you’ve made a friend for life. On the other hand, miss out the casual reader’s favourite number one, and you run the risk of being ignored for all time. 


A Year In Playlists encompasses seventy years, a bit less than a modern lifetime all squeezed into one. Throughout 2015, we’ve featured 1,130 songs to date, one playlist a week over the last 51 weeks. The overwhelming majority of artists are represented by just one song, only the truly important or exceptional by two or three. Nonetheless, most forms of musical life are here; chart hits and folk songs, techno tracks and classic riffage, acknowledged favourites and mysterious obscurities. They are all a part of the story. 


One way or another, most of the songs here have influenced my life, even those I profess to hate. Many will have influenced the lives of others because more than any other art form, music arouses extraordinary passions. It moves us in ways we both can and can’t explain, lifting us up towards the clouds or dragging us down to the depths of despair. It can also inspire incredible loyalty (at least it used to) to songs, albums and musicians with whom we’ve forged some kind of connection. We feel as though we understand the songs we love in a way that no-one, not even those who created them, will ever appreciate. And if we can hum along to them, then so much the better. 


The only thing missing until now has been a place for those who dared to redraw the boundaries of what was or wasn’t acceptable and swim against the tide. After all, modern music culture isn’t made up of genres and time periods alone. It’s far more complicated than that. So for our final playlist, here’s 25 geniuses, misfits and one offs who first appeared sometime between punk and the dawn of the new Millennium. It’s their impact and influence that continues to remind us how music is so much more than just simple noise and entertainment.  


You will undoubtedly recognise many of them as long established, familiar names, even superstars, but what about kinky German renegades D.A.F.’s jagged electro industrial dance, Smith & Mighty’s inevitable melding of punk and disco that invented trip hop five years ahead of its time, Underground Resistance and Joey Beltram’s revolutionary, future sound of Detroit and Belgium techno, or DJ Shadow, the first to re-construct something truly remarkable from a sampler, a bunch of obscure second hand records and the imagination of a classical composer. Its outsiders, interlopers and shape shifters like these who have made modern music culture the unpredictable, frighteningly stupid and stupendously clever spectrum of communication that it is today. 


Hopefully, A Year In Playlists has told some kind of story of how we got all the way from Joe Liggins & His Honeydrippers way back in 1945 to Aphex Twin in 1999 and Jenny Hval & Susanna in 2014. Quite frankly we’re shocked we’ve even managed to pull it off. While it’s been a lot of work, it’s also been a lot of fun and we’ve certainly learnt a helluva lot along the way. Not least that there is no right or wrong way to do this kind of thing. Almost by definition, pocket book guides of this nature inspire debate and argument. We hope A Year In Playlists simply inspires you to set out on your own incredible voyage of discovery! 


01 IGGY POP ‘Funtime’ (The Idiot LP March 1977)

02 THE CRAMPS ‘Human Fly’ (A Side November 1978)

03 D.A.F. ‘Der Mussolini’ (Alles Ist Gut LP March 1981)

04 TOM TOM CLUB ‘Genius Of Love’ (A Side September 1981)

05 MALCOLM MCLAREN ‘Buffalo Gals’ (A Side November 1982)

06 THE SMITHS ‘This Night Has Opened My Eyes’ (Hatful Of Hollow LP November 1984)

07 THE POGUES ‘The Old Main Drag’ (Rum, Sodomy & The Lash LP August 1985)

08 KATE BUSH ‘Cloudbusting’ (Hounds Of Love LP September 1985)

09 CRIMINAL ELEMENT ORCHESTRA ‘Put The Needle To The Record’ (A Side 1987)

10 MARK STEWART ‘Survival’ (Mark Stewart LP October 1987)

11 SMITH & MIGHTY ‘Anyone’ (A Side May 1988)

12 PET SHOP BOYS ‘Left To My Own Devices’ (Introspective LP October 1988)

13 BELTRAM ‘Energy Flash’ (A Side March 1990)

14 THE KLF ‘What Time Is Love? (Live At Trancentral)’ (A Side September 1990)

15 MANIC STREET PREACHERS ‘Motown Junk’ (A Side January 1991)

16 R.E.M. ‘Belong’ (Out Of Time LP March 1991)

17 UNDERGROUND RESISTANCE ‘Riot’ (Riot EP June 1991)

18 DJ SHADOW ‘In/Flux’ (A Side December 1993)

19 TRICKY ‘Hell Is Round The Corner’ (Maxinquaye LP February 1995)

20 BJORK ‘Isobel (Deodato Mix)’ (Telegram Remixes LP November 1996)

21 SPIRITUALIZED ‘I Think I’m In Love’ (Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space LP June 1997)

22 MASSIVE ATTACK ‘Risingson’ (A Side July 1997)

23 MADONNA ‘Ray Of Light’ (A Side April 1998)

24 JEFF BUCKLEY ‘Everybody Here Wants You’ (A Side May 1998)

25 APHEX TWIN ‘Windowlicker’ (A Side March 1999)