Last.fm vs Normaliser

image of Bic Rungaimage of Paddy McAloon

According to last.fm, my Top Ten most listened to albums are:

  1. Bic Runga – Birds
  2. M. Ward – Post-War
  3. Nellie McKay – Get Away From Me
  4. Cat Power – The Greatest
  5. The Magnetic Fields – 69 Love Songs
  6. Scritti Politti – White Bread Black Beer
  7. Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
  8. Bent – Ariels
  9. Girl Talk – Night Ripper
  10. Paddy McAloon – I Trawl The Megahertz

Which all very respectable and tasteful indeed.

However, last.fm calculates this on the basis on tracks played. So, if the album has loads of short tracks (69 Love Songs, 3 Feet High and Rising, Best Of’s) and you play it a couple of times, it will show up higher than an album with a few very long tracks (sorry, Sigur Rós, Blue Nile and Talk Talk).

So, some brainbox came up with a way of calculating your charts based on the length of the tracks. It’s called last.fm normaliser and you should give it a go now.
My Top Ten albums are now a little more surprising:

  1. Paddy McAloon    I Trawl The Megahertz
  2. Bic Runga    Birds
  3. Bent    Ariels
  4. Cat Power    The Greatest
  5. Röyksopp    The Understanding
  6. Nellie McKay    Get Away From Me
  7. George Michael    Patience
  8. Belle and Sebastian    The Life Pursuit
  9. The Avalanches    Since I Left You
  10. a-ha    Analogue

This seems a tad odd. While I Trawl the MEGAHertz is a wonderful album, I don’t think it’s my most listened to one. It seems that the normaliser calculates the average length of the tracks on the album, so with Paddy’s opus, you have track 1 at 22:06 mins (yes!) and the shortest track at 2:42. That makes the average about 12 minutes x 9 tracks = 108 mins. But the actual length of the album is about 53 mins. Hmmmm.

Still, interesting tool. Give it a go and report back, last.fm-ers!

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13 comments

  1. orn

    this cant be right, according to Last.fm my top 3 albums are psb-alternative, junior boys – so this is goodbye and mika’s – life in cartoon motions.
    But the normaliser does not even have them in top 24!!!

  2. themilkman

    Well, first, it’d be nice to have Last.fm work properly again. In the last few weeks, the site’s been so slow and so unreliable.

    On the matter of this normaliser thing, it actually spat out quite a similar result to my Last.fm usual chart, at least in the top 4. There are 6 albums that are counted in both charts.

    Last.fm top 5 albums:
    1. Seefeel – Succour
    2. Phonophani – Phonophani
    3. Broadcast – Tender Buttons
    4. Murcof – Martes
    5. Broadcast – Haha Sound
    6. Biosphere – Substrata
    7. Autechre – Amber
    8. International Peoples Gang – Action Painting
    9. Autechre – Tri Repetae
    10. 310 – RECESSIONAL

    Last.fm normaliser:
    1. Seefeel – Succour
    2. Phonophani – Phonophani
    3. Murcof – Martes
    4. Autechre – Tri Repetae
    5. Autechre – Amber
    6. Biosphere – Substrata
    7. Biosphere – Dropsonde
    8. Autechre – Incunabula
    9. Autechre – Chiastic Slide
    10. Biosphere – Patashnik

  3. eguinan

    Orn: It must be something to do with track length. I reckon the average length of tracks on Alternative is quite short. What topped your Normaliser charts?

    Milkman: Those two charts are quite consistent. (I bet the average length of your tracks is about 14:34 😉 )

  4. orn

    this is my Normalizer chart

    1. Blonde Redhead Misery Is a Butterfly
    2. Antony and the Johnsons I Am a Bird Now
    3. Air Talkie Walkie
    4. Depeche Mode Black Celebration
    5. Depeche Mode Violator
    6. Saint Etienne Tiger Bay
    7. Tiga Sexor
    8. Depeche Mode Music for the Masses
    9. Pet Shop Boys Very
    10. Sufjan Stevens Seven Swans

    Compared to the Last.fm chart

    1 Pet Shop Boys – Alternative
    2 Junior Boys – So This Is Goodbye
    3 Mika – Life In Cartoon Motion
    4 Antony and the Johnsons – I Am a Bird Now
    5 Blonde Redhead – Misery Is a Butterfly
    6 Depeche Mode – Black Celebration
    7 Pet Shop Boys – Fundamental
    8 Air – Talkie Walkie
    9 LO-FI-FNK – Boylife
    10 Martin L. Gore – Counterfeit²

  5. seanachie

    Erm, I tried it but my top two played artists, Dexys and CSS, both of whom are well ahead of anything else in terms of tracks played disappeared completely. LCD shot to #1, long tracks…

    themilkman: I’ve been having trouble with Last.fm too, still am.

  6. eguinan

    Seanachie: How do you feel about LCD at no. 1? I saw their lastest album for €5 in Golden Discs. Shurely shome misthake?

    Orn: WordPress doesn’t seem to like your hotmail address, but I’ve rescued your Top Tens from the Hot LAtin Sluts and UK VIagras. 🙂

  7. orn

    why do i bother with this old and bothered hotmail address anymore

    and thank you, its so me to be caught between those kind of emails

  8. Pingback: Homage | A Blog with no Name
  9. seanachie

    Late getting back to this, Sound of Silver (I presume that is the album you talk about) is IMHO, the best of the year so far and would be a snip at €5, though I can imagine that your average Golden Discs casual wouldn’t be too drawn to it, so there is some economic logic behind the low price tag. Other bands I’ve been listening to a lot lately, such as Bonde do Rolê, have very short tracks.

  10. eguinan

    Bonde do Rolê. The new CSS? I’ve only heard Office Boy, and I need to hear it again. But I can be a bit like that with new acts – there’s just too. much. stuff.

  11. seanachie

    They’re playing Electric Picnic this summer (they told me they’ve already played Crawdaddy three times as well). If you’re in the vicinity of Stradbally, give them a look. Great fun, even if they play with a backing track.

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