Last.fm. That's an inherently weird place, isn't it? Not the concept - the whole scrobbling deal is fair enough if you want to keep track or show off, or indeed surprise yourself. Trouble is, you're after a fashion letting everyone else know...and it's all searchable. Everything you list is logged, registered and charted. Big Brother is listening to you. Kind of.
This occurred to us while looking through some of the artist pages the other day out of interest at what the cognescenti believe through repeated plays is the most popular song by various acts. They can ostensibly end any arguments about the most popular tracks from great back catalogues : Beatles - Let It Be edging away from Eleanor Rigby; Stones - Paint It Black; Bowie - Ziggy Stardust; Led Zep - Stairway, obviously; Queen - Bo Rap, clearly, although someone may have to explain Fat Bottomed Girls in the top ten; Neil Young - Heart Of Gold, but a very good showing by Old Man; Elvis Costello - Alison, with a majority of his top ten from My Aim Is True) They can show the progress of modernism - Hurt is a mile ahead of I Walk The Line in Johnny Cash's list, while A Weekend In The City, which has been leaked for a while, is only making very slow progress, all three tracks in Bloc Party's top 100 having previously been paraded as popular live version blog mp3s. Such lists can surprise you, as with Pixies fans only putting Gigantic at 8 (Where Is My Mind? is top) or Fight Test topping the Flaming Lips list.
But most of all, it can be slightly scary, knowing how a flame still burns for certain also-ran bands. Last week the New Fast Automatic Daffodils racked up more than 200 plays on last.fm-enabled players - less than, say, You! Me! Dancing (223 and proud), but still unlikely here in late January 2007, if not quite as unlikely as the fact they're not far ahead of Bogshed and behind Menswear. 911? 115 plays. Paris Angels? 25. Joe Dolce's 69 plays can be put down to irony or somesuch, but what about the 52 afforded to Haysi Fantayzee? We were certain nobody else remembered Nut, a female singer who had a couple of mid-90s minor hits, but 19 players do. The Evasions' Wikka Rap, an early rap novelty record (man does Alan Whicker impression over Funkin' For Jamaica Good Times) has had eleven plays in the last six months. Where this all leaves us we're not quite sure, except to assume that in this electronic day and age it literally is the case that nobody gets forgotten.