2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees

Not sure when they were released but I missed it. I had to add more new artists than usual, meaning I didn’t have many of them being tracked in my database already. Sadly, that means I won’t have cool graphs for how much the nominations did or did not affect Spotify popularity or LastFM listeners/playcounts.

I’m have unusually mixed feelings about this class of nominees. My five fan votes were definitely easier than usual but I think it is also easier than usual to pick this years actual class of inductees versus who should actually get in.

Who should get in based on contribution, influence, etc.

  • Judas Priest
  • Depeche Mode
  • Kraftwerk
  • Pat Benatar*
  • T. Rex

Who will actually get in because … the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

  • Dave Matthews Band
  • Soundgarden
  • Whitney Houston
  • Notorious B.I.G.
  • Pat Benatar*

*The only overlap (so you don’t have to stress out re-reading each list fifty times)

Who doesn’t stand a chance

  • MC5
  • Motorhead
  • Todd Rundgren

New Additions

This morning I’ve added some new artists (at least to the Spotify part of the database). As usual, some of these artists I simply can’t believe I haven’t been tracking them already*.

  • George Clinton
  • Funkadelic (I was already tracking Parliament)
  • Grace Jones
  • Buffalo Springfield
  • CSNY*
  • Genesis
  • Peter Gabriel
  • Phil Collins
  • Jacob’s Trouble
  • Lost Dogs
  • Melissa Etheridge
  • Indigo Girls*
  • Timbuk 3
  • Tracy Chapman
  • Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians
  • Suzanne Vega
  • Godfathers
  • James McMurtry

It’s a bit more of a pain in the buttocks to get the MBID numbers from MusicBrainz, but I’ll do that later. Hopefully, later today.

365 Days of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

Just tweeted:

“I planned to make enough money that, by my 50th birthday, I could hire Joan Jett to play my party. That didn’t happen so I’m giving myself the 2nd best present: Listening to no music but Joan Jett and meditating on for an entire year. Join me, won’t you?”

This grand plan is already paying dividends.

GitHub contribution timeline. Most squares are various shades of green until three weeks ago.
My GitHub timeline as of this morning.

That sudden halt of constant commits corresponds with when I started taking anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. Most of my motivation to learn and code and code and learn every single day was a desperation to get out of my job, career, Florida, etc. I still want all those things but I don’t feel this maddening pressure and compulsion to do it. I was actually getting worried because I was no longer making any progress on any of my projects. I tried getting excited and “in the mood” or “in the zone” but … I’d rather hang out with my wife and kids and my job doesn’t seem to suck so bad.

Before I bore you with TMI, I’ll just say inspiration during this morning’s commute while listening to my Joan Jett Yummy Goodness Spotify playlist had ideas overflowing of things I wanted to make and do using my Spotify and LastFM data — for Joan Jett in particular. I hoped this would happen so I even brought my personal laptop to work for the first time in a while.

What does 365 Days of JJatB (Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, duh) mean for people who aren’t me? It means a, hopefully, daily tweet of WWJJD (from @SproutMeansGrow), groovy lists like Joan Jett’s albums ranked from best to worst … many artists have such lists but I’ve never seen one for them. Is it “her” or “them”? Side note: I couldn’t find a lineup timeline for her this morning. There wasn’t even a Wikipedia page in my search results for JJatB, just for Joan. I’ll have to make one (a band lineup timeline, not a whole page — there are limits even to my nerdiness).

But fear not (all 5 or 6 of my subscribers), I’ll still be posting, tweeting, and instagramming my other programming, books, and vinyl stuff that all 5 or 6 of you eagerly wait for with baited breath.

The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast by Roger Glover

Countless times in the past, I’ve promised myself I would document anything new I’ve learned or any process I’ve created so I could pass along my victories, mistakes, and everything to anyone who finds and reads these posts — as soon as I’m done with whatever task or debugging nightmare I’m currently working on. I’ve almost never done that so I’m hoping to live up to this new promise to myself that I will just document what I’m doing as I’m doing it. It may just help me do it better and it will definitely help me later recall what mistakes I made, what I did correctly, and how I screwed it up once it was running purposely.

Longtime Ongoing Mission: Have all of Ronnie James Dio‘s songs in my popRock app so I can create comprehensive bar charts, scatterplots and cool relationship force layout charts.

Current Want: The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast by Roger Glover which features at least a couple excellent songs song by Dio.

Problem/Mystery At Hand: I have both Roger Glover as well as Roger Glover and Guests in my table of Spotify Artists but neither are bringing in any of the three Ball & Feast albums.

Potential Problem/Cause: Neither of the Glover Spotify IDs are in the necessary arrays used by my cron jobs that … nope, that can’t be true because Roger Glover has two albums in my database — neither of which I care about so I know I didn’t manually input them.

Tests Thus Far:

  • Used the Spotify Developers’ Web Console to confirm who the artist(s) were for each of the three editions of Ball & Feast.
    Result: Two editions had just RG, one had both RG and RG & Guests.
    What that tells me: I should be getting at least one album for RG if not all three.
  • Used the Spotify Developers’ Web Console to get all albums for Roger Glover .
    Results: There is a third RG album that I haven’t seen anywhere AND there’s a Roger Glover & Ian Gillan album that makes me happy because that’s great for my “related artists” and artist-relationships charts.

There are oodles of albums by RG but the main point is that Ball & Feast has only one artist — not “various” so it should come up.

Black Sabbath final scatter plot

In a previous post about this scatterplot graphing Black Sabbath plays on Last FM, I discussed how a bootleg misrepresented a particular album’s playcount. Finally fixed that and something else.

sabbathPlot_083019.png
Y-Axis is the album’s playcounts per Last.fm from 0 to 15 million. X-Axis is chronological.

I’ve gone through the data for a second cleaning. First, I now realize I must do this for all my artists’ discographies. Not only to prevent misinformation but to create some templates I’ll use to make fetching information from musicbrainz and LastFM much more efficient. For many tasks, I think I’ll be migrating to local JSON files for basic information that doesn’t change like lists of albums and tracks. There’s no reason to request those from APIs if I already have them.

But, I digress a bit … back to the Sabbathplot. Here are some updates, including some behind the scenes geekery.

I removed We Sold Our Soul for Rock and Roll because it’s a compilation and was included by accident.

I used data for the actual Vol. 4 instead of the Children of the Grave bootleg so now the chart is more accurate. Interestingly enough there were two CotG releases in that release group. Most of the Volume 4’s (including multiple Great Britain and US releases), while not having playcounts as low as CotG, still have all the same really low playcounts — all of them but one — a release for XE, which I had to look up. XE = Europe (not the European Union, though, I got this knowledge from some forum after looking at the iso.org) and that’s the one I used.

UPDATE: For Volume 4, I’ve now combined the plays for Europe, the other bunch of countries including Great Britain, Italy, and the US, as well as the bootleg Children of the Grave because it has the same songs on it.

Of note, I think, is that all of the other albums — every release within each album’s release group had identical data as one would expect — except one. Seventh Star had one aberration — Japan‘s release had a playcount of 74. So, update, I’ve added those for a new total as well.

I think today might be the day I really clean up and supercharge my data and how I access it. I’d love to create a bunch of JSON “templates” as I mentioned. But there’s so many features and things I want to finish and release RIGHT NOW that have been taking for too long. Regardless, I definitely wanted to release this correct scatter plot and share it.

Among those aforementioned features:

  • I want to provide buttons for people to choose different artists. Dio‘s career is next.
  • Add data for different albums. For example, add the Vol 4 playcounts from XE, GB, and US for a total of … <– I just did this.

Cannibal Corpse. Again.

Table showing a list of musical artists and their statistics from Spotify and Last FM. Cannibal Corpse is in third place when sorted by listener to playcount ratio.
Cannibal Corpse fans can’t get enough. Good thing there aren’t any all-you-can-eat corpse buffets.

I added a new “ratio” column to my web app because I think it can be misleading to look only at Listeners, Followers, and Playcounts when comparing artists (or albums &tracks). Many people will buy an album or follow an artist because they’re popular at the moment then never listen again. Even just plays can be misleading so I wanted to know how often followers/listeners actually played that artist’s music.

I expected Bowie and Zeppelin to be at the top when sorting by ratio, but Cannibal Corpse?!

Even when comparing CC to artists with similar stats in other columns (below), they beat the snot out of … Journey, Motley Crue, Ozzy, Clapton, and Tom-Freakin-Petty & the Heartbreakers! Tom Petty solo (think “Free Fallin”) is even lower at 1:13.

Table comparing Cannibal Corpse with artists having similar statistics for Last FM playcount.

The brand-new next item on my Data Visualization to-do list is now to graph which genres have the highest listener-to-playcount ratio. I hypothesize it’s metal. According to my local record store owners, used metal on vinyl is more expensive and yet still sells faster than other genres and they absolutely can’t keep Christian Metal from flying off their shelves.

Volume 4’s illusion of unpopularity

Scatterplot showing studio album playcounts fetched from the Last.fm API. X-Axis is Black Sabbath's career over time. Y-Axis is playcounts from 460k to 15 million.
Album playcounts fetched from the Last.fm API. X-Axis is Black Sabbath’s career over time. Y-Axis is playcounts from 460k to 15 million.

In a recent Reddit post, I showed a scatterplot (above) showing each Black Sabbath studio album’s playcount from LastFM. Volume 4 was the absolute lowest — even beneath every Ian Gillan and Tony Martin album (no disrespect to either, I’m just talking data and conventional perception). I and most commenters were surprised so here are some more screenshots explaining how that happened.

lastFM_forGitHub3.png
Table showing the same data from June 19. The only albums lower than Vol. 4 are obscure bootlegs.

Looking at my column chart for their Spotify popularity scores (as of today), I noticed one release of Vol 4 has a popularity score of 2 while the others are more respectable and what we’d expect.

spotifyColumnChart.png
Spotify contains several releases of each album. Some countries get even more than USA users.

When I get my data from MusicBrainz‘s API, it looks like this:

vol4_02.png
Children of the Grave is a bootleg of Vol 4 so it is the same “release group” from MusicBrainz.

MusicBrainz is where I get info about artists and all their albums and tracks. I’ve collapsed the data for each album so you can see there are 12 total versions of Vol 4. I push that list to LastFM to pull the number of listeners and playcounts for each album and track.

A “release group” is an album. A “release” is each edition or version of that album — Remastered, collectors’s edition, comes with a poster, whatever.

LastFM doesn’t have data for all releases but sends what it does have. For reasons I won’t bore you with, I only grab data for the first release in each release group which, in this case, is that f***ing Children of the Grave bootleg. As I write this, I have a solution in mind that should also fix another oddity in my app.

I hope you’re nerdy enough to have enjoyed this.