The Musical Reckoning Cometh: Your favorite tunes vs. your Most Played

Filmmaker Edgar Wright made a fascinating observation in a recent blog post: “If you were asked to come up with your ten favourite songs, I would lay money on it not being exactly the same ten as your most played songs on your iTunes.”

What? Surely not. Granted, not all my favorite tunes are on my iTunes, but still, there must be some correlation, right? So I took the Edgar Wright Challenge and looked at my Most Played list … and was amazed. Not necessarily in a good way.

First a caveat: I tend not to select specific tracks to listen to in iTunes, but to let the DJ function shuffle them for me as I work. Not always, but usually. Also, my numbers look a little low, thanks to a complete hard drive re-install in the last year, and more recent tendency to listen to instead of my own iTunes selections. In other words, this is a pretty limited sample size, and possibly statistically insignificant. But it starts to paint a picture. My tastes are hinted at, but not nearly as eclectic and intellectual (read: snooty) as I might have liked.

Responsible for 20 percent of my top 10 most played, apparently.

Responsible for 20 percent of my top 10 most played, apparently.

1. “Send Me On My Way,” Rusted Root. (9 plays) Wow, OK. I love Rusted Root, but this is far from my favorite tune of theirs. I tend to get enough of it after years of frequent re-viewings of Ice Age with the little ones. (Which is a surprisingly durable movie.) Still. Hunh.

2. “Strange Overtones,” David Byrne and Brian Eno (7 plays) Great song. Their collaborative album “Everything That Happens Will Happen Today,” is a masterful “We still got it” statement from Byrne and Eno.

3. “Scherzo No. 3: Presto con fuoco in C-sharp minor, Opus 39” Chopin (played by Emmanuel Ax) (7 plays) I call up these recordings of Ax playing Chopin a lot, but am stunned that the most-played tuned isn’t Scherzo No. 1, which is the world’s most brain-melting display of piano virtuosity. To me, No. 1 is the ultimate creative expression of all time, not just from the mind that conceived it but from the fingers that can play it. (Listen to a recording of Scherzo No. 1 here — it’s not Emmanuel Ax but it’s still blistering.) Of course, No. 3 is no slouch either, and it’s welcome in the top 10.

4. “Rain,” Rusted Root (7 plays) That’s more like it. Not my top Rusted Root favorite (that would be “Food and Creative Love“), but a great example of this band’s eclecticism and wit.

5. “Istanbul,” They Might Be Giants (7 plays) A great song in its own right, and it gets extra play with kids in the house.

6. “Goody Two Shoes,” Adam Ant (6 plays) Whoa. Really? Really? I … I had no idea. I can’t even pin this one on the kids.

7. “Call and Answer,” Barenaked Ladies (6 plays) The entire “Stunt” album gets a lot of replay in my house because lately it’s what Youngest Daughter and I will play when we’re tidying up the house together. “Call and Answer” is probably my favorite song on the album.

8. “Who Needs Sleep?,” Barenaked Ladies (6 plays) Perhaps it gets more repeat play for its thematic relevance in my life.

9. “Make Me,” Famous Tomorrow (6 plays) Ha! Really? This is not a commercially available tune, but an amateur theme song for the soundtrack of an amateur film I only marginally helped make with old amigo Will Carton. (My contribution? Shuttling the youth talent to the set.) “Make Me” is an entry in Joss Whedon’s open casting call for short films to appear on his Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog DVD. In DHSAB, a half-baked villain seeks entry in the Evil League of Evil, so Whedon asked fans to film other villains seeking admittance to the League. Make Me’s application didn’t get selected for the DVD, but thanks to the Internet, it lives on. I don’t know where Will found his guys to do the theme song, but it’s pretty hilarious.

10. “Anduril,” Howard Shore, “Return of the King” soundtrack (6 plays) OK, sure. It was great music for a great film. But why the song about the sword?  I would have thought that the track with the most replays would have been the one for that tag-team string of mountainous bonfires. Aw yeah, remember that? That was sweet. I think I’ll go listen to it now.

Thanks for the introspection, Edgar Wright. Now get back to finishing  the Scott Pilgrim movie!


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2 responses to “The Musical Reckoning Cometh: Your favorite tunes vs. your Most Played

  1. Mark Wegener

    In the past few months I have also been listening a lot to Chopin scheros (scherzi?) 1, 2, and 3 (performed by Pollini), and the TMBG’s Flood CD, which includes Istanbul. I believe your taste in music is excellent. Alas, I do not use iTunes, but old fashioned CDs. I agree that No. 1 is the best, but they all kick ass.

    By the way, I have been reading your blog for a few months now, and I think it is great. I like your writing a lot. Does this stuff just flow out of your head, or do you need to write, rewrite, edit, mull it over, and rewrite again? Your casual tone combined with tight organization and economy of word choice make if fun to read your writing.

    • jdrewscott

      Oh, gosh, now I’m gonna blush. Yep, see? There I go.

      It will perhaps please you to know that *nothing* simply flows out of my head, so all cogent thought must be pulled, bribed, and scraped out like a barnacle off a hull. I spend more time writing, rewriting and editing posts than I really should. This is the Internet, and we’re not supposed to slow down for things like well-considered thought or spiffy sentence structure. That last sentence? Took at least three minutes.

      Still, thanks for the kind words and the patronage, Mark. That means a LOT to me coming from you. Life has no awesomer joy than praise from people you respect. (Awesomer? Oh, crap — there goes my cred. Damn!)

      Cheers to you and your fam!

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