Monday, September 15, 2014

Me and my tunes

After finishing grad school I was quickly able to increase my reading-for-pleasure habit from seven books a month back up to ten. This was excellent, as it gave me another Fantasy, Horror and Science Fiction book a month to comment on.

But after a couple weeks, I realized that if my reading habits had slid back a little during school, my music tastes had virtually withered away. I’d spent the last few years listening to my aging iPod playlist, which, to be fair got updated time to time by my wife, who listens to a lot more contemporary music than I do, but for the large part, my musical tastes tend to live comfortably in the years between 1999 and 2004 (ages 23 – 27, respectively).

So, I decided to do something about it, and as a library-trained list making guy, I decided to use some basic filters.

New music comes out at an incredible rate – even if I limited myself to just listening to my local top-40 radio station or watching the music videos linked from the ads at the beginning of YouTube videos I watch, I would be checking out dozens of new songs a week.

So I turned to the Billboard charts – which have been keeping track of the top 100 songs currently in play since 1958, and selected the American list (where the lists originated), the Canadian list (where I live), and the UK list (as my musical tastes tend to lean that way if left alone), and began listening to the top ten on all three lists every Monday.

What I noticed right away is that there is a lot of overlap. With the exception of the UK list, which varies somewhere between 2 and 8 songs from the American list on any given week, the Canadian list tends to be roughly 60% identical to the American, if not in ranking, at least in which songs are on the list.

I’m not sure if listening to all these tunes (which usually means listening to about 18 songs a week, as I don’t listen to the same song if it appears on another list), is making me smarter, more culturally aware, or relatable to my kids, but it does tend to mean I’m a little bit faster in recognizing songs playing on the radio.

And as I'm adding new tunes to my iPod playlist can’t be considered completely golden oldies anymore.

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