Around this time last year — I think it was last year — I decided to do something called the “30 Day Song Challenge” on Facebook. Basically it’s a thirty-part quiz about the taker’s musical taste. And it’s a little bit juvenile. And I’ve decided to do it again — only on the blog this year.
Day One: Your favourite song.
The word “favourite” is going to feature quite a lot over this series. And I never know how to apply it. For instance, Sick Again by Led Zeppelin is playing as I type this. And I’m fully engaged in the song. I’m not thinking of other music, or wishing it was another song. But realistically, there’s no way I would — at any point in my life — name it as “my favourite song”. But in the moment I’m listening to it, I don’t want to listen to anything else.
So is it my favourite song?
Well, no. It’s over now. I’ve moved on.
Enjoyment of music is, of course, part emotional and part intellectual. I can look down my nose at a song because of simple lyrics, a lack of complexity or difficulty required to perform it, or both — this is an intellectual judgement of the song in question. But most of my — and most people’s, I would think — reaction to music, or any art, is based in emotion. Art is meant to make us feel. And so my favourite song of any fleeting moment rests upon how that particular piece interacts with my current emotional state.
So my favourite song varies greatly depending on my mood, and the reasons for that mood. It can depend on the day of the week (The Cure’s Friday I’m in Love isn’t nearly as fun on Monday morning). It can depend on the weather.
So how do I, in my current neutral, introspective, intellectual state choose a favourite?
Statistics, that’s how. I figure that I tend to listen to songs I like more often than those I don’t. And that I tend to skip songs I dislike more often than those I do.
And given that it’s been a year since I last answered these questions, I’ll refine my statistical set to the past year — otherwise my all-time most played songs would overwhelm any recent changes. And what have I listened to the most in the past year?