Ok, New Zealand, we need to talk.
Earlier this week, Spotify sent out its annual most-streamed lists and the results were… surprising.
First, someone needs to explain this obsession with Ed Sheeran to me, please. The guy’s playing the biggest tour New Zealand’s ever seen next year; six massive stadium shows – double what Adele did when she caused a frenzy earlier this year.
He’s here so often I feel like he works for Tourism NZ. He’s featured on Shortland Street and just recently on those Spotify lists, he was named our most-streamed artist of the year. Again.
I realise not everyone consumes music via Spotify but with some 140 million users around the world, I’d say it’s a pretty good indicator of what people are into. And it seems New Zealand is into some questionable things.
Don’t get me wrong, Ed Sheeran isn’t actually one of those things. I saw him live last December and he was undeniably impressive, plus an overwhelming amount of evidence suggests he’s clearly got something people want.
But really? Top artist for three of the last four years? I’ll probably never understand it, so let’s just move on. How about the rest of our top five artists?
On one hand, I’m stoked four of the five artists are hip-hop acts, but I’m less impressed that none of them are women; Ed is joined by Drake (who was number one last year), Kendrick Lamar, Eminem and – get this – Chris Brown.
That’s the other problem. I know 2009 was a long time ago but let’s not forget that Brown beat his then-girlfriend Rihanna bloody in a very public case of domestic violence, which copped him five years’ probation and some community service.
There was a tonne of backlash and people swore to boycott his music, but suddenly he’s got a documentary on Netflix, a 45-track “album” and – likely as a result of having all those songs in one place at one time – a top-five spot in our streaming ranks.
And so we’re back to the old “don’t let politics get in the way of art” argument we’ve been facing with Hollywood’s sexual harassment blow out. They did a bad thing, but does that mean we shouldn’t enjoy the album/tv show/movie they made?
I’m not going to tell people how to react to sexual harassment and domestic violence – that’s up to you. All I’m saying is, with the plethora of amazing artists out in the world, does this guy deserve a spot in our top five?
Want to know who does? Rihanna. She didn’t even release an album this year and is still our most-streamed female artist and honestly, I feel like everything this woman touches turns to gold. Plus – all the domestic violence drama aside – she’s simply a far better and more prolific artist than Chris Brown.
Our other top female artists included Lorde, Adele, Taylor Swift and Alessia Cara. I’d like to hope Alessia won us over with her version of How Far I’ll Go from Moana but who knows?
At any rate, Spotify wasn’t the only service to release its end of year data – YouTube did too.
In the past, YouTube’s data has told us some interesting things about ourselves. Like in 2015, when our most-watched video was inexplicably a 43-minute-long compilation clip from children’s show Peppa Pig. Go figure.
Since then it’s mostly been Got Talent audition videos, Mean Tweets and Carpool Karaoke. Our second most-watched video is one such James Corden special, featuring our apparently beloved Ed Sheeran, and it’s followed by ping pong trick shots and a Bad Lip Reading of Trump’s inauguration (would recommend).
But our top video is by Maimoa Music, the collective made up of presenters from the series Pukana, which famously dethroned Justin Timberlake from the iTunes music charts last year.
The video for their new single Wairua has more than 3 million views and is our most-watched clip of 2017, which is heartwarming considering it’s entirely in te reo Maori and our country’s recently been locked in a debate over whether te reo should be used on our screens and airwaves.
It wasn’t the only te reo song on the list either – in at number nine was Jessica and Tiana Waru singing Tiaho Mai Ra and having a laugh doing it.
So while I don’t understand it all, here’s what I can gather: We may not support female artists as much as men and we’ve allowed Chris Brown back in our lives, but the things that captured our hearts and clicks this year include a love-song crooner, homegrown talent, having a laugh and, guess what? Te reo Maori.
Take that Don Brash.
New Zealand News