Monthly Archives: August 2013

On a musical note …

… a lot of what I post here seems to be music related but from time to time every instrument needs a little tuning.

For the past year or so I’ve managed to post regularly updated playlists for both Spotify and YouTube, under the standard heading “Ready To Rock”.  Those posts really started when I became frustrated with YouTube randomly shuffling the carefully arranged playlists that I started building and maintaining back in 2011.  That led me to add Spotify to my listening routine,  with the playlists posted here as much a way for me to see how it might fit into my musical life as anything else.

As things turned out, Spotify fit pretty well.  Roughly 90% or more of my weekly Top 40 songs are available there, around 60% or more of the stuff that hasn’t (or won’t) hit the charts but is on my larger playlist is there as well.

But at some point I suppose there’s some discussion due of how these playlists are determined in the first place, of the differences between the content of my Spotify & my YouTube, etc and so forth.  This stuff doesn’t just magically happen with the help of the Playlist Fairy y’know.

As I explained it on my (currently on hiatus) podcasts the core of the playlists comes the best of today’s hard rock and heavy metal “minus all the lame lightweight crap”.

Every week, I look at the radio airplay charts for Active Rock, (Mainstream) Rock, as well as the Active Rock – Canada chart and the Alternative chart.   Recently I’ve added an online Christian Rock chart to the mix as well as (shockingly) pulling one track from the Adult Rock chart.  There’s also one unofficial chart, a private polling of rock stations in mostly smaller markets (best I can figure) that helps me spot songs that are trending upward.

All that info goes into a spreadsheet (my way of organizing virtually anything & everything), it’s weighted based on my genre preferences, every lame thing that sucks is removed …  and what comes out is what you see as my Spotify Top 40.  Beyond what songs are eligible/ineligible, there’s no personal preference other than the way I weigh the chart data.  I could have chosen various methods to come up with something manageable like a 40 song playlist, that happens to be the route I chose.

On my YouTube playlist, there’s a lot more depth & variety.  The first 50-55 songs are determined the same way.   After that it’s an alternating mix of new songs (that haven’t hit a chart yet) and “recurrents”.  That’s a common radio way of saying “songs that have fallen off the charts officially but you aren’t finished with them yet & they aren’t ready to be consigned to the infrequently played  “Gold” rotation”.    And yes, those recurrents are subject to a spreadsheet process of their own as well.

New-but-uncharted songs?  Those are largely driven by the calendar.  Give or take songs that hit the YouTube playlist stick around for about 90 days.  In rock today, if a song is going to chart then it’s going to do so fairly quickly.  Anything that takes longer than 60 days is unusual, anything officially released as a single (with the intention of getting radio airplay) that makes the charts  61-90 days are fairly rare, longer than would be virtually none.  Hence the roughly 90 day window.

The time-consuming part, but also one of the most rewarding parts, is finding the new music that gets into the category at all.  See, as a hobbyist, nobody is sending me press releases or official information,  I have to dig for it.  I’ve got a regular set of websites I hit multiple times a week to see what they’ve mentioned, social media is very helpful, even recommendations on YouTube produce some leads.

For every song you eventually see included, there’s 1-2 songs that never get there.  I listen to just about any & every viable candidate I come across — my radio friends will recognize music review sessions and “Drop/Add Day” — those are either added before I post the updates, noted for future reference or dismissed for plain old suckage.  It’s that process, plus the awkward mechanics of shuffling everything around, that often pushes my blog posts back beyond my Wednesday target.  On a typical week, I’ll spend about 1-3 hours listening to new tracks (or re-listening to ones I was on the fence about), another 4-6 hours shuffling things into their new proper order.  I can’t even guess how many hours I spend digging things out in the first place, that’s a perpetual process really.

A couple of things I figure people may have wondered about at some point would be “Why under 200 songs?” and “What are those silly animated videos?”   Under 200 is my paranoia about ever having YouTube randomly scramble these carefully ordered lists, that seems to be the threshold where problems have happened in the past.  The quick little videos are essentially placeholders, included to help me navigate songs up & down the lists.

The other likely glaring question is “Why on Earth do you do this?”  Mostly because I enjoy it.

One of the few things from my radio days that I actually miss is the aforementioned “Drop/Add day” (when music directors typically figured out what you will/won’t hear in the coming week).  My process roughly simulates that.  I also do it because it’s the only way I’ll ever find or hear an awful lot of the best songs that are out there today.  For me, traditional rock radio is a non-entity, there’s isn’t an actually rocking station that I can hear reliably in my location.  Satellite is better, but their airplay choices can be curious even on the best channels.   Whether it’s the best-selling hard rock out there or a Southern Rock group from Portugal or talented kids from Slovenia, if you’re kicking ass with great tunes then I want to hear it.

And who knows, maybe I’ll hit the lottery or there’s somebody out there with lots of money who shares my musical tastes.  If I ever find myself with a chance to run an ass-kicking online station, I can have it up & running as quick as the music servers can be loaded.  Just call me, we’ll talk about compensation.

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Ready To Rock (weekly playlists)

Another week with decent activity,  3 songs in, 3 songs out, and still just song missing from Spotify.

Missing songs this week:
Out Of Time – Stone Temple Pilots

New to the Spotify list this week
The Lion – Monster Truck, Addicted To Pain – Alter Bridge, Always – Killswitch Engage

Dropping off the Spotify list this week
Sick Of It – Skillet, Lock n Load – Dead Daisies (re-entry), The Takedown – Girl On Fire (re-entry)

For the larger (once again nearly 200 songs) YouTube version there’s a LOT of new music this week including the first new music in years from Fates Warning, a hard rocking tune from Tesla (about time fellas), the best tune to date from Hessler, Southern Rock from Portugal by Fuzzdrivers, Christian artists Stellar Kart and The Almost and more. You can find it at this link

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J3C College Football Top 25 (2013 pre-season)

By this time next week most of the nation’s college football teams will have either finished or be in the middle of their first game of the season.    Butterflies will be forgotten, hopes & dreams will rise & fall, questions will be answered, questions will be raise,  hot seats will cool and other seats will suddenly warm up.

In other words, another college football season is almost upon us.

And just as surely as some walk-on will do something remarkable and as surely as a can’t-miss prospect will miss … it’s time for the preseason edition of the JonsThreeCents College Football Top 25  (final 2012 J3C ranking follows their name)

1.  Alabama  (1)
2.  Oregon (2)
3.  Ohio State (3)
4.  Texas A&M (4)
5.  Stanford (7)
6.  Georgia (5)
7.  South Carolina (8)
8.  FSU (9)
9. Louisville (13)
10. Clemson (10)
11. LSU (11)
12. Florida (15)
13. Notre Dame (6)
14. Oklahoma State (Un)
15. Michigan  (24)
16. Texas (18)
17. Nebraska (Un)
18. Oklahoma (16)
19. TCU (Un)
20. Boise State (14)
21. Northwestern (17)
22. Oregon State (21)
23. UCLA (Un)
24. Wisconsin (Un)
25. Baylor  (23)

Teams ranked at the end of 2012 that are outside my 2013 Top 25:
Kansas State (12) Utah State (19), San Jose State (2o), Vanderbilt (21), Northern Illinois (25)

One final note:  my final Top 25 poll at the end of 2012 had 10 teams that began the season unranked.  That means 10 of my pre-season top 25 underachieved.  Since I’m brutally honest but also not entirely without rooting interests, I wouldn’t really mind being that wrong again this year.

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Ready To Rock (weekly playlists)

Cutting it close this week, but I still manage to send us all into the weekend with fingers snapping, toes tapping and heads banging.  Fairly active week,  4 songs in, 4 songs out, and down to just one two song missing from Spotify.

Missing songs this week:
Out Of Time – Stone Temple Pilots, 

New to the Spotify list this week
Shine On – Soil,  Lola Montez – Volbeat, Lock n Load – Dead Daisies (re-entry), The Takedown – Girl On Fire (re-entry)

Dropping off the Spotify list this week
Sweet Mountain River – Monster Truck, Die For You – Red,   Minus the Machine – 10 Years,
Strike Back – We As Human

For the larger (once again nearly 200 songs) YouTube version there’s new music to enjoy this week  including the latest hit from Monster Truck, a funny video from Jane’s Addiction, a darned catchy tune from Tantric  and more. You can find it at this link

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Still counting?

Just noting that this is my 200th blog entry.

Nowhere near as many as I would have liked it to be after more than 3 years here … way more than I’ve ever managed with any previous blogging attempt.

Yes, it’s music heavy — more than a lot of my regular readers would care for perhaps — but that’s also kept me in the habit of coming back.

For those who have read, those who have provided feedback both publicly and privately, my thanks.

Jon

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August 23, 2013 · 4:40 PM

Ready To Rock (weekly playlists)

About as much activity as I can recall the chart having in a single week, with 6 songs in, 6 songs out, and still just two songs missing from Spotify.

Missing songs this week:
Out Of Time – Stone Temple Pilots, Shine On – Soil

New to the Spotify list this week
Deal With The Devil-  Pop Evil, Knockdown Dragout – Sammy Hagar , Die For You –  Red,
Minus the Machine – 10 Years, Adrenaline – Shinedown, Bad Man – Bobaflex,

Dropping off the Spotify list this week
Towers – Young Guns,  In It To Win It – Saliva, Asking Too Much – All The Remains, Lock n Load – Dead Daisies,  Feel the Same – Candlelight Red, Darkness Disappears – Awaken

For the larger (once again nearly 200 songs) YouTube version there’s a lot of new music to enjoy this week – over a dozen songs in all – including the first track from the forthcoming Alter Bridge album, a romp from Sammy Hagar and friends, a new cut from 10 Years, a pointed song from Richie Sambora, as well as new music from Dream Theater, Red Line Chemistry, Drowning Pool, Krokus  and more. You can find it at this link

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Define Yourself

The back-to-school season is in full swing, so naturally my mind has turned to … graduation speeches?

Regular readers of this space have already figured out (and maybe even been warned) that my train of thought usually runs on tracks with a lot of switchbacks, so for me to end up thinking about graduation on/before day one of another school year may not be much of a surprise at this point.  For the uninitiated, maybe a quick route map would be helpful, so here goes.

Those speeches at graduations are commonplace, their content fairly predictable as well. Students are encouraged to go forth and do great things, admonished not to believe they know everything, reminded of their journey, etc, etc. They’re also being told all of this in the midst of a major milestone in their lives, perhaps the biggest milestone of their lives to date, so forgive me if I question how much of it really sticks. It’s understandable, they’re caught up in the moment and all.

That started me thinking about whether, maybe, instead of graduation speeches we should actually be giving speeches to incoming freshmen. High school or college, matters not really, what I wish they would both hear and embrace is pretty much the same. And it would go something like this …

————

As you embark upon this journey, you are no doubt filled with questions.  Concerns.  Even fears.
I will not attempt to allay all of those, nothing I could possibly say in the time allotted to me could possibly cover all the things that have run through your mind in recent days.   I will, however, suggest that you take heart in your chances of survival.  After all, I stand here before you as evidence that the next four (or more) years are indeed a temporary condition.

Instead, I’d like to use this time to offer you something that might help you keep those fears and challenges in some perspective, for as overwhelming as they may seem both now and in the years to come, none of them are the defining moment of your life.

You will undoubtedly have that suggested to you repeatedly as you take this journey.  This “big thing” or this “most important” thing or some other “critical vital crucial” thing will be presented to you as the most end-all and be-all situation of your life.   But it isn’t true.   Those are mostly motivational tactics designed to get you to reach your potential.  Dirty trick on the part of those older & supposedly wiser perhaps, but they’re mostly well-intentioned so don’t get too mad over it.

Even more assuredly, you will be told over the next few years that you are  … too fat, too skinny, too ugly, too pretty, too rich, too poor, too smart, too dumb, too fast, too slow … mostly too “something” and not nearly enough of “something else”.   And as soon as you correct one of those “toos”, another will appear to take its place.   Like night follows day — or vice versa — there will always be something wrong with you.  You may laugh nervously about that now but, well, you’ll see.

It’s those things, those labels, that are quite possibly your biggest obstacles on the track ahead.  Not that they are applied to you — that’s going to happen because that just seems to be the nature of people — but rather how you respond to those labels.  Whether you allow yourself to become weighted with that millstone, burdened with that albatross.    You see, people are bound to try to shackle you with those chains … but they cannot force you to carry them.

You have the ability to make those things, effectively, weightless.  Or at least nearly so.   Accept them and the combined weight can, and usually will, slow you down.  Refuse them — in your own heart & mind — and they cost only the time it takes you to remind yourself that those “toos” are not who you are.

That brings me to my own challenge for you:  define yourself.

In the years ahead, you may very well discover that you are “too” something and “not enough” something else.   Happens to everybody, just part of it.   The important thing here, what I want you to realize and both take heart in AND take to heart is … YOU can define what you are “too” and what you aren’t “enough”.

Those “toos” and “nots” are what will make up the sum total of the person you become.  The person you are.  The person you will see in the mirror every day for the rest of your life.  And the proper amounts of those things are determined by what you aspire to be, by WHO you aspire to be.

Now don’t take my words to some unrealistic extreme.  I’m not suggesting that nothing matters except your own head.   There are both qualities and performances required for virtually everything that lies ahead.  If you’re 4’2, being a dominant center in the NBA isn’t in your future.  If you fail every single math test this year, you are not going to be named math student of the year.And unfortunately we do not live in a world that runs as a meritocracy, not only will you not get what you do not earn, you frequently will not get things that you DO earn.  And yet, none of those things DEFINES you.

The rock star, the doctor, the preacher, the model … those are things people DO.  They are not who those people ARE.   They are “good guys” or “asshats”.  They are “dear friends” or they are “complete bitches”.   The person you are – how you are defined – is about how you live your life relative to your own values and standards, it isn’t about what you do from 9 to 5.  Those things are not what stare back at you in the mirror each night and each morning.  They may provide a better looking mirror, but what looks back at you is the same person no matter where the mirror is hanging.

So, as the year begins, I challenge you: define yourself.  If need be, REdefine yourself.  But don’t passively sit back and allow everyone else to define you.  Don’t give away that much power, it will be abused.  Guard that power, nurture it, use it to reach your goals.  Define yourself.

————–

Yeah, that’s about what I’d tell ’em.

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