Sunday, April 8, 2007

Another Music Post

Yes, I'm stuck in a rut.

Today I realized that I can quickly and easily determine how much I like a band. I've been judging artists on a song by song basis for some time, accepting that artists have hits and misses, and then assessing how much I like the band based on how many songs I like as opposed to how many songs I dislike. This approach proved economical until I realized that comparing one artist to another suddenly involves a complicated calculus of positive songs to negative songs and failed to take into account the quality of the songs themselves by distilling them to mere +'s and -'s.

I have since come up with a much simpler system: now, to determine exactly how much I like a band, I just name my favorite song by them, and the more obscure the song is, the more I like the artist. There are those who say that picking a favorite isn't easy, but it is. It should be a quick, knee jerk, first song to enter your head. Watch as the system works with ten random bands/songs that come to mind:

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: "Rhino Skin"

Elton John: "Levon"

The Cars: "You Might Think"

Nirvana: "Heart Shaped Box"

Dave Matthews Band: "Ants Marching"

They Might Be Giants: "Ana Ng"

Billy Joel: "Don't Ask Me Why"

Neil Diamond: "Solitary Man"

Simon and Garfunkel: "Keep the Customer Satisfied"

The Ventures: "Walk, Don't Run"

So, rearranging these in order of obscurity, we get:

1. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
2. Simon and Garfunkel
3. They Might Be Giants
4. Elton John
5. The Cars
6. Billy Joel
7. Neil Diamond
8. The Ventures
9. Nirvana
10. Dave Matthews Band

which is an agreeable order, with a few problems:

1. It is difficult to rank They Might Be Giants, as they're a relatively obscure band as opposed to the others, and thus have a leg up in obscurity. Basically, I figured that I could name at least two dozen TP and S&G songs that are better known than my two favorites, while Ana Ng is one of TMBG's better known songs. However, since it takes more effort to follow a lesser known band, perhaps the extra effort suggests I like them more.

2. I'm unhappy about The Ventures' free fall to 8, below both Neil Diamond and Billy Joel, because I'm pretty sure I like The Ventures better than either of those. It's just that "Walk, Don't Run" is really, really catchy. This system may penalize bands that have a singular masterpiece backed with a solid repertoire.

3. 4 and 5 are practically interchangeable, while there is a chasm between 5 and 6. I'll routinely list Elton John and The Cars among my favorite artists. Billy Joel, meanwhile, is just an artist I appreciate. There is also a chasm between 9 and 10, which leads to...

4. Would this work in ranking bands I don't like who managed to provide a song I thought was good? Or would I have to rank my least favorite songs by those artists? It's a good thing I don't have a girlfriend, otherwise I wouldn't have time to think all this through.

No comments: