At the end of last year, I completed my One Year Music Challenge, which I did for a goal from The List:
029. Listen to 2 new musical acts every week for 1 yearI used this goal to push my boundaries and try music from genres I don't normally listen to alongside the rock/pop styles that I usually have on my playlist!
Between suggestions from friends and googling phrases like "musicians from [random country]", I ended up with a huge list of artists to try out--far more than I actually needed, in fact!
Once the challenge was over, I used a handy tool from traveltip to generate a map of all the countries from which I'd listened to music. I thought I'd listened to a lot of music from around the world, but as it turns out, it was only just under 19% of the world's countries!
Admittedly it was harder to find music online for artists from some countries. Then again maybe I was looking in the wrong place.
Anyway, this challenge was fun, and through it I found a lot of musical acts that I really liked!
Here comes my top ten.
Those that put up with my waffle on a regular basis can probably guess who is at number one...
10. Kitaro (Japan)
Super-relaxing New Age instrumental music! I first heard this artist in week 16 of the challenge, and go back to the music every time I want something peaceful to relax and daydream to!
Kitaro Official Website
09. Yemi Alade (Nigeria)
Fantastic and fun afropop! I listened to her music during week 47, not really knowing what to expect and certainly not expecting to like it so much. Her songs are catchy, sassy and full of personality. You will not be able to listen without wanting to dance.
Yemi Alade Official Website
08. Khebez Dawle (Syria)
Indie rock music, sung in arabic (with English translations available on their website). I heard this act in week 42. Starting life during the Syrian uprising in 2012, their lyrics are really hard-hitting ("You're still alive under the siege, trying to understand what just happened"). The music itself is really melodic; arabic lends itself to music really nicely.
Khebez Dawle Official Website
07. KeshYou (Kazakhstan)
Upbeat pop music. I first heard this act in week 37 of my music challenge! Their music is really catchy and their videos have some great scenery and costumes. They sing in Kazakh so it's impossible to understand the lyrics without finding translations--but it's not impossible to enjoy the music.
(Still can't find an official site. Argh.)
06. Apulanta (Finland)
A rock band with an alternative/punk edge to some of their music. First heard in challenge week 29. Some of their songs have a harder rock sound compared to the one embedded above. They sing in Finnish, but there are translations online. I like the songs even without reading the translations, and in general like how Finnish sounds, so found this band really easy to listen to (and keep listening to...)
Apulanta Official Website
05. Sólstafir (Iceland)
A rock/metal band with some damn cool music videos. I first heard them around a year ago, in week 14! Despite not knowing the language, I fully enjoyed the music, and go back to it periodically! (Again...the internet and its translations are a wonderful thing!)
Sólstafir Official Website
04. Freshlyground (South Africa)
Nice poppy music, performed in both English (as embedded above) and Xhosa (go watch their music video for 'Nomvula'!) First heard this act in week 38. Though they formed in Cape Town, South Africa, the band also has members from Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
Freshlyground Official Website
03. Coeur De Pirate (Canada)
French-Canadian indie-pop! I first heard this act ove a year ago, in week 8 of the challenge! I really like the vocals on this music, and the fact she sings in both French and English across different songs (Some of her songs have versions in both languages).
Coeur De Pirate Official Website
02. FEMM (Japan)
Electropop with some insanely catchy lyrics (they sing in English) and really upbeat music. I listened to this act in the first week of my music challenge, and despite taking a while to get used to their sound, I love it!
FEMM Official Website
01. Steam Powered Giraffe (USA)
Alright, so it was probably really predictable that this band would be #1, because outside of this blog, I haven't shut up about them.
I first heard this robot-themed musical project in week 12, and it was one of those moments of Love at First Listen. I spent all day watching their music videos, had coughed up for a couple of their albums by the end of the same week, and actually haven't removed the music from my playlist since.
They create a real mixed bag of music; some is serious and balladic, some fast paced, some ridiculous and zany. The act has developed a huge backstory around their onstage personas, and what I've seen of their live performances (they've recently started streaming YouTube-only concerts!) they do a lot of improv and humour in between songs.
They're a really fun band, and I need more money so I can buy the rest of their albums.
Steam Powered Giraffe Official Website
That's it for my music challenge! Picking a top ten was difficult because I heard so many great acts over the course of last year!
You can find my entire playlist for this challenge on YouTube.