Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Posted: December 5, 2010 in Music Culture, New Music
Tags: , ,
What happens when you’re made to listen to the same songs over and over – be it on the radio, due to lack of options or even by your own doing (hence the invention of the appropriately-named “repeat” button”)? You’re forced to make an opinion and on one hand, songs that don’t initially strike a chord with you may start to grow on you; on the other hand, these same songs may just keep getting worse. Either way, one of the two is inevitable.                                                                                                                                                                                               The first theory is the more you hear a song the more you love it. And it’s because with every listen you learn more about the song. Even if you thought the song was average when you first heard it, with repetition you tend to hear things you never did before. You notice the details in the song, what works, what doesn’t, and realize the the multiple elements that went into creating the tune. Sure not every song that’s written is that complex, or has so many layers, but some songs are genius in their simplicity alone (please see The National’s “About Today”). You delve into figuring out the meaning of the song, why a lyric was written the way it was, and how it relates to you or your current situation. Take Drake for example. I wouldn’t call myself a huge fan of his (not counting his Degrassi days), though I enjoy a track of his and there, but recently I was surrounded by his music over and over and over again. I heard him in the morning, in the evening, at the bar and even in my sleep (or was that just drunk karaoke singers sitting outside my room??). Drake was even there when stranded on the side of the road, in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere in a foreign country, on a broken down bus. When all hope was lost and yours truly was slowly starting to lose her mind (apparently I’m claustrophobic), the in-house DJ had the brilliant idea of livening up the mood – and all it took was little Drake. Next thing you know, I was losing my mind (this time in a good way) to Drake and because I had to listen to his music repetitively, I am now in love with it.

Now let’s address the opposite theory – the more you hear a song, the more you dislike it. Just as in the previous case, repetition makes you pay more attention to the details of a song. But this time you notice everything wrong about the song: the nonsense lyrics, the whiny vocals, and just how annoyed you get every time you hear it. You can’t even bring yourself to try and appreciate any aspect of the song, because something about it immediately puts you off. You somewhat obsessively start to criticize everything about it, and pick on the tiniest little things which in any other song would be completely appropriate, but in this particular song is completely unforgivable. It gets to the point where no matter where you hear the song, you feel the need to inform everyone of your dislike for it, just so that there’s no confusion. It’s like when you’re stuck with someone who instantaneously makes you want to leave the room. Everything about them irritates you, from the way they accessorize to the way they talk, yet you pay so much attention to them (out of sheer disbelief of their existence) and start to notice weird things like how at no matter what angle you look at them, their head looks like an upside down pyramid. When you’re working in an office and made to listen to a lame radio station all day that plays the same 5 songs over and over and over again, it can be a nightmare. Let’s face it, there’s nothing worse than being subjected to Miley Cyrus‘ “Party in the USA” while working; but you’re trapped. You can’t ignore it, you can’t get away from it (assuming you don’t have any control over the sound system) and so on top of being forced to listen to it repetitively, you’re forced to address all the inadequacies of the song: seriously Miley, how many times was a Jay-Z song on?? The repetition in this case inevitably forces you to have a severe aversion towards the song.

Repetition is a tricky thing: it in itself is a direct route to the wonderful land of adoration, love and appreciation while at the same time being a direct route to the darker land of excess, obsession and hypercriticism. When it comes to music, and you’re put in a situation where you have to listen to the same song over and over and over again, remember this: if you hear it enough times, it can become your new best friend, or your worst enemy. After all, history has a way of repeating itself.


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