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If you really wanted to indoctrinate me — or at least, to get me to repeat things mindlessly, which is probably a close enough approximation to count — you’d do so by making a song about it. It wouldn’t even have to be a song I liked particularly much, because seriously, if I’m forced to listen to a song often enough I will come to like it even if it originally made me want to throw my radio out the window and smash it into a million pieces.

I’m familiar with this phenomenon of coming to appreciate the finer points of songs I initially loathed because it happens to me way too frequently. The main problem is, I listen to the radio each morning. Well, I guess that depends on your definition of “listen” — most of the time I don’t actually wake up when the radio turns on, but the music infiltrates my dreams and then I have singing-and-dancing extravaganzas in my mind. Anyway, the point is, I subject myself to popular music on a regular basis. The other point is, the radio station I listen to is very repetitive with its selection of popular music, so I’ll usually hear a song every single morning for several weeks until it stops being so popular and is supplanted by something else.

Occasionally, the radio plays a song I like. More often, it plays songs I think are pretty mediocre. Slightly less often, it plays songs I can’t tolerate. The kinds of songs that make me want to smash my radio, like I mentioned in the first paragraph. The ones that compel me to switch off my radio at any rate, only then my morning becomes silent, so I’d rather have musical accompaniment. Just… not when the music is that.

But the more it plays the exact same songs, the more I become desensitised to them. The songs I used to think were mediocre start to sound good. The songs that used to make me want to smash things start to have redeeming features. Don’t ask me to tell you what they are because I won’t be able to, but the song just starts to sound… okay. After a lot of repetition it may even start to sound, well, good.

Not because it actually is good, I hasten to add. And admittedly, none of the songs that have ingratiated themselves into my mind in this way are songs I love and listen to frequently. However, they do become songs I deem sufficiently good that I download them, rate them about three or four stars in iTunes, and allow them to be played occasionally.

Of course, none of that would really help you to indoctrinate me without the secondary piece of knowledge that I… get songs stuck in my head. At the drop of a hat. All the time. Which is kind of odd because come to think of it, I never see people dropping their hats. Was that idiom coined in an era in which there were National Hat-Dropping Championships or something? “Let’s see whose hat can make it to the ground the fastest”? No? Well, luckily for us, answering that question is really not crucial to this entry.

I’m pretty good at memorising the lyrics to songs. If I hear a song’s chorus even once — EVEN IN MY DREAM WHILE I’M SLEEPING — I’ll probably be able to sing it, or an approximation of it, for days afterwards.

What’s worse, I don’t actually watch what I’m thinking that closely a lot of the time and these lyrics can creep up on me unexpectedly. Like I’ll be making a cup of coffee and will break out into some song, and I’ll stop myself once I reach a line I don’t know and think, “So, uh, where on Earth have I heard that before?”

The answer is always: on the radio, in my sleep. I know this because the radio always plays it again the next morning when I’m awake.

I don’t know if you could actually indoctrinate me through song. Please don’t try it; I may have to punch you in the face. If you did, though, I think you’d probably find that:

  1. You could force me to like any song you wanted if you made me listen to it often enough; and
  2. I’d probably have memorised the most important lyrics before it got to that stage, and would be liable to burst out singing it at vulnerable moments.

…but perhaps I’m strange.

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3 Comments

  1. Some songs I like more if I hear them several times. Sgt Pepper album (1967) sounded very different the first time I heard it. Now it is my favorite album ever. It must be listened to several times to see just how great of an album it is.

    • There are definitely those kinds of songs as well… I know there have been times I haven’t initially thought much of a song, only for it to come up in shuffle mode and sound really different the second time round. Or maybe I’ll pay closer attention to the lyrics, and the lyrics are so interesting that they make me like the song as a whole better. I know that’s happened with “Wars or Hands of Time” by Masters Apprentices, “Lost?” by Coldplay, “La Ĉielo” by Persone, and lots of other songs, I’m sure. Albums often grow on me over time, too, like “Dark Side of the Moon” did. At first I was like, “What? This is one overrated album.” But now, I really like it.

      None of them are “they made me want to smash things, and now I don’t” songs/albums though. Smashing-inducing songs are the really repetitive songs that should only be 30 seconds long because there’s no more to them than that (which is a considerable proportion of popular music, IMO); the above just didn’t make much of an impression at first.

  2. Lady GaGa – smash! But I just cannot get her songs out of my head. I know exactly what you mean.


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