It’s December, and ’tis the season for year-end lists, best-of playlists, and of course, DJ Earworm’s annual United State of Pop mash-up. If you want a quick answer to “what it all meant,” it’s hard to do better than Earworm’s five-minute time capsules of the pop sphere. Last year, I talked to the San Francisco-based DJ (a.k.a. Jordan Roseman) about the process of curating and melding 12 months of the best (and worst) of mainstream music, and how 2012 was overall more melodic and optimistic than the apocalypse pop of 2010 and 2011. But this year, the clouds rolled back in: “It’s a little darker-themed, I think,” he told Billboard.
The mash-up is more ballad than banger, anchored by Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop” and Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive.” Lorde gets a lot of screen time too, with the title of the track (“Living the Fantasy”) modified from a line from “Royals.” There are a few not-so-subtle but brilliantly edited winks at current events, as Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears reunite for a little post-NSA-leak reflection (“I figured it out”/”They watchin’ us”/”You were right”/”All eyes on us”) and Miley and OneRepublic lend a little advice to the Obama administration (“No more counting dollars”/”I guess I shouldn’t start a war”). And, as is the case every year, you will find yourself unexpectedly moved by the combination of artists you probably don’t even like. I never want to hear that Swedish House Mafia song again, but man, it sure did exist in a period of time that is growing ever smaller in the rearview!
All in all, it’s another A+ feat from Earworm, not to mention an even more emotional mix than usual. Give it a spin and have your own private group hug with this year’s chart-toppers, love ’em or hate ’em.