Posted by: Jeremiah Graves | August 8, 2006

Musical Theory 101

Do you ever just get really into certain songs? I get that a lot. Like, I’ll hear it one day and then I’ll either scramble to find out who it was singing it or whatever so I can download it (because I’m too cheap to buy a CD).

Now once I’ve got that biznatch downloaded, you can expect to hear that song about 10,000 times within the next four to six hours. Why? Beats the hell outta me. I always complain when a song is overplayed on the radio…Rob Thomas and Santana “Smooth”…this means you! Yet, I’ll do the same thing when I have it on CD.

Today I’ll try to explain this paradox by using some recent examples combined with various theories I have as to why I overplay songs…

EXHIBIT A: The Music Video Effect
EXAMPLES: “Our Lives” by The Calling and “In the End” by Linkin Park

Now although this song isn’t new by any means, it is a song that I’ve been overplaying like crazy lately. This is because of what I’ll refer to as the music video factor. Most times when I hear a song–and I’ve never seen the actual video–I make up my own music video in my head. As such, for “Our Lives”…I picture a music video that is largely a montage of me and my friends growing up together and hanging out and whatnot and then the eventual split-up that is unavoidable in all friendships as we all go our separate ways. (PS: “Separate Ways” is totally a Journey song that I’ve also rocked out too…) Now this one has a slight edge over the others as I actually made a video montage of me and The Boys and used this song as the closing song to the video…so by default…that will ALWAYS be what I picture when I hear that song, as I assume it will be for everyone else as well. The Linkin Park song consistently makes me think of wrestling. Travis and I always talked about making a music video to hype a match between the two of us…and this was the song we wanted. As such, I always picture that music video in my head.

EXHIBIT B: Pure Love of Voice and Music
EXAMPLES: “Change” by Tracy Chapman and “Such a Way” by Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers

Now this one was a rare situation where I was so entranced by the song that I actually ran out and purchased the CD. Yeah, I know….the Dutch guys prys open his wallet–with a crowbar, mind you–and purchases a CD. Crazy! Well first and foremost…Chapman has the most incredible voice ever. I just want to make love to her voice. It’s not even funny.

This one caused a chain reaction that had me playing this song, accompanied by about half the other songs on the CD, for nearly a month and a half. The same has become the case in recent memory with a Massachusetts based band called Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers. Basically these dudes rock my socks clean off. The song “Such a Way” has more soul and feeling in it than most angry, lesbian poetry…and that’s a lot my friends…a whole lot!

In this scenario…there was no music video effect. This time there was only the pure love of the voice and the music. In this case, overplaying a song or songs is–in my mind–not nearly as large of a tragedy because the music rocks. If I were doing this to a Jessica Simpson number, however, I’d pretty much need to be shot.

EXHIBIT C: Danceability and Sing-a-Longitude
EXAMPLE: “Gimmie Some Lovin” by the Spencer Davis Project

In this example…I can’t say it was the “Music Video Effect” or even the “Pure Love of the Voice and Music”…the reason I overplayed these songs is two-fold and in my case…two of the most common reasons.

Danceability and Sing-a-longitude. This is a classic tune that you can’t help but start jiving to and if you’re strong enough to make it all the way to the chorus, it is next to impossible to avoid belting out the phrase…”Gimmie Some Lovin'” at the top of your voice…just try it. You’ll see what I’m talking about.

EXHIBIT D: Old School
EXAMPLES: “Don’t Stop Believin'”  by Journey and “Be Like That” by 3 Doors Down

Everyone has a list of maybe 5-10 songs that seem to pop up fairly regularly either on burnt CDs or in their MP3 playlist. these are songs that have been around for awhile…some a LONG, LONG while, but still remain favorites.

I have a decent list of these songs and if you ask any of my close friends…and/or…anyone who has ridden in my car more than twice in the last decade and they’ll pretty much be able to rip off about half-a-dozen songs that you could expect me to have on any given CD I ever burn.

These songs are there because they are old school favorites. Songs that have a certain meaning from the past or simply are your past. Songs define a big part of who we are and where we are in life when we think of a song. “Freshman” by Verve Pipe is one that will reverberate with my generation forever, as is anything by Hootie or the unforgettable “Closing Time” by Semisonic. These songs stick with us and send our minds immediately to a certain place and time. For about five generations of kids The Beatles have been a mainstay in the Old School category. Face it. Whether you’re into EMO or Punk or Rap or whatev…you still have a favorite Beatles song. If you say you don’t…you’re a f’n liar!

So there you have it…my four theories for why I overplay songs. These songs I hear fit into one of those categories…and/or a fifth or sixth category that I’ll think up when it’s not two hours before I need to be to work…ugh!


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