To Guide You Through the Dark

August 23, 2006

If the question of why I don’t like a certain song, or a certain artist or band, comes to mind about me, this should clarify most of that wonder.  Here is a guide (very basic guide) as to whether or not I will like a song-and eventually the artist(s)- based purely on my very biased, but often accurate-to-my-preference technique:

phase one:  pre-listening
1.  What’s the band name/artist name?
If I’ve heard of them, and have a general idea of how they’d sound, chances are I’d be very biased with my judgement in phase two.  I’ll try to see the good in some, but I usually go in with my assumptions.

2.  When was this band/artist present?
Yes, this matters.  My friends and I generally agree that music sucks today.  The radio is great evidence of that.  A higher standard is often set for music circa 90s.  Lower standards for the 80s and lower, and even lower standard for artists of today (depending on genre).  Bear in mind, however, I am still rather picky; probably to the point of closed-mindedness.

3.  What genre of music does categorize as?
I no longer make the bold claim stating that I listen to all types of music and the ever popular ending to that:  “except country.”  I’ve faced the truth.  I would choose country music over the majority of modern “clubbing”, hip-hop, and rap music that is out there today.  So, needless to say, hearing a new song by an artist of that genre will be fairly difficult to make an impression on me.  The idea is also used with rock music and it’s plethora of subgenres, as well as all others.

phase two:  listening
1. How is the instrumental intro?
Depending on the genre (a heavy concept in this guide if you couldn’t tell), I’d listen to see whether it suits the type of music the band claims to play.  Not just that, will it keep my attention long enough for the lyrics to enter?  Can I tolerate those notes that they’re playing?  The tempo they’re playing at?  Does it make me think, “God, I’m right.  They do suck”?

2. What do the vocals do to the song?
The first word that I hear in the song usually says a lot.  But in many cases also, a little furthur casual listening is required.  Here, most screaming, grunting, staccatto singing, poor singing, among other types along these lines, are heavily shunned.  The personal preference is really the drive behind this.  It usually doesn’t matter how good the instrumental parts are, or how deep the lyrics are.  I’d rather just read the lyrics than listen to the song. 

3. What are they saying?
Meaning is about 35% of whether I’ll like the song or not.  If they’re singing their hearts out about something tasteful, or meaningful, it will help quell my dislike of the instrumentals.  But then again, if the instrumentals overpower the vocals, and I can’t hear or make-out what their attempting to sing, then there’s a problem.  Still, there are some cases where it’s obvious they’re not trying to make any sense, in which case this section is nearly exempt.

4. What’s the point?
The beloved chorus.  If the song continues to be in good standing throughout the intro until the pre-chorus/chorus, this will make or break the song.  Does the diction spoil the flow and all together mess up the song?  It’s usually that the chorus is too catchy, until it sticks itself to your mind and just gets worse and worse, like bacteriophage attaching to bacteria until it continues to reproduce and infect.  In a nutshell, will I be humming the chorus in my head the whole day?  And will I be annoyed?

5.  And then the rest.
I’m no guitar god, but solos where the guitarist is just playing some easy scale in a higher octave then it’s no good.  As for all other songs, what’s the ending like?  Am I still awake?  Am I happy this song is over?  Or was it “not bad” where I’d want to give that song another try?

Note that by judging one song, I’ve passed judgement on the artist(s) as a whole.  I sometimes listen to another song and end up liking them though.  It’s happened before.  I realize that this answers only so many questions.  I bet some can even find contradictions.  But I assure you, the audience, that there are facts that are missing that were hard to squeeze into my organization.  I’ll add them another time.  Not a promise.

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