Monday, 14 July 2014

Twenty Random Songs

A game I came across by looking at a blog of someone I don't know at all: Put your music device of choice on shuffle and report the first twenty songs, no cheating.
  1. Raffi - Baby Beluga
  2. The Essex Green - Don't Know Why (You Say)
  3. Sufjan Stevens - Abraham
  4. Belle & Sebastian - Marx and Engels
  5. Belle & Sebastian - I Fought in a War
  6. Modest Mouse - Fly Trapped in a Jar
  7. Spiritualized - Drive (Instrumental)
  8. Spiritualized - Home of the Brave
  9. Sufjan Stevens - Riffs and Variations on a Single Note for Jelly Roll, Earl Hines, Louis Armstrong, Baby Dodds, and the King of Swing, to Name a Few
  10. Paul Simon - All Around the World or the Myth of Fingerprints
  11. Blink-182 - Adam's Song
  12. Bedhead - Withdraw
  13. Nirvana - Pennyroyal Tea [from MTV Unplugged in New York]
  14. Pet Shop Boys - Liberation
  15. Michael Jackson - Someone in the Dark
  16. Mogwai - I Am Not Batman
  17. Robert Preston, Shirley Jones and Chorus - Seventy-Six Trombones Finale
  18. Elliot Smith - Somebody that I Used To Know
  19. Smog - Be Hit
  20. Belle & Sebastian - Dog on Wheels
The preface to the game was: You can tell a lot about someone by what music they listen to. I'm interested in what this listen says about me, but I notice just how confounding the list is. This analysis isn't really part of the game, it's just what I thought about after getting what seemed like a pretty weird list to me

Baby Beluga would lead you to the obvious conclusion that I have children but that is one of a handful of children's songs I had in my collection before having children. You may never have heard of the Essex Green, I certainly hadn't though the song was familiar.

Three Belle & Sebastian songs on the list would probably make you think I like Belle & Sebastian, but basically I think they have as most two good songs from each of their albums. Even though I dislike upwards of 80% of the music I have by them, there was still only about a half percent chance that three or more of their songs would show up on the list as they did.  I would not have even recognized Marx and Engels or Dog on Wheels were it not for the name on the screen.

I don't think I'd ever heard numbers 3, 12, 14, 15, 18 or 19 from the list. I honestly couldn't tell you if I'd heard "I Am Not Batman" by Mogwai from the name of the song, though because it is off "Ten Rapid" I know I have listened to it many times. If it was from another one of their albums I wouldn't be able to say for sure if I'd ever heard it or not. I certainly know Adam's Song by Blink-182 but I have never listened to it on my iPod before - there is a listen count that confirms this.

So what can be deduced from the list? Probably you can safely deduce my approximate age. It appears I was a child when Raffi was popular and was in late highschool or university when Belle & Sebastian and Spiritualized were at their height. Michael Jackson, Paul Simon and the Pet Shop Boys tend to confirm this by suggesting I was listening to pop music in the 80s and limit how young I might otherwise be. Nirvana's MTV unplugged agrees with the timeline. Sufjan Stevens, and late Modest Moust suggest that I stayed interested in music after graduation or that I was a grad student for quite a while.

I suppose what the list really says about me is that I am a pack rat when it comes to music. It does very little to reveal my actual preferences, though. Using the iTunes system of four stars, there are only three of those songs I would rate four stars right now and none I would rate five. That's why I called the list "weird" earlier. It's not because a person who liked all that music would be weird, but rather because I like so little of that music. I bet it's very rare that a person would play this game and not know 30%-40% of the songs that show up.

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