I’ve come up with a test to determine how much people like music. As I reflect on the fact that I’m the type of person to come up with tests to reveal how much other people like music, I realize I could have saved myself the time and just posted this:
1. Do you ever come up with tests to determine how much other people like music?
2. Do you even care how much other people like music?
If you answered yes to either of the above, you probably have an unhealthy fixation with this entertainment medium. Anyway, that’s not where I was going. If you were to do a mental map of my brain, I think 60% would be devoted to how much I think about music, 30% would be devoted to finding ways to fit Arrested Development quotes into everyday life and the remaining 10% is for everything else. Job, kids, family, whatever.
Because I think about music so much, I’ve come up with a way to figure out how much other people think about music, which for some reason is important to me. It’s a simple test you can take on yourself right now. Ready? Here’s the test.
Name your top 5 favorite bands of all time.
<pause as I wait for you to complete>.
Now depending on how much you think about music, or how much time you spend listening to music, you had three possible outcomes.
1. This question totally threw you. After thinking and stammering, you were able to come up with 2, maybe 3 bands. Overall you don’t think you have 5 favorite bands.
2. You were able to come up with five bands, pretty quickly, and were satisfied with the list
3. You not only were ready for this question, you were excited to answer it. However, you only got about 3 bands in before you started second guessing yourself. Within the span of a minute this list changed three times. At some point you had an internal debate with yourself about your ranking method and your fluctuating internal rules. You were very likely unable to answer cleanly and thought the question would be more fair if you could somehow break it into categories or if you were allowed to select more bands.
If you fell into category one, you don’t care about music very much at all. It’s not that you dislike it, it’s just an afterthought for you. If music were to disappear tomorrow, you probably wouldn’t notice. Your attention is spent on some other form of entertainment media, perhaps art or movies.
If you are in category two, you like music the exactly perfect amount. It doesn’t dominate your life, but you have a healthy interest in it. You think about it while you’re listening to it, but you don’t obsess over it. You might turn on the radio while cooking in the kitchen.
If you’re in category three (as I am) you spend way too much time thinking about music. If you’re in this list, there’s another related test you can take. Stop trying to list your top five favorite bands and just randomly list three (which is easier for some reason). Now say exactly where you were and who you were with when you first heard these bands. People from category one and two would not be able to do this. People in category three can not only do this, they can probably tell you the exactly song they heard. For me:
1. REM – first heard at guys house in grade nine during lunch hour. The song was World Leader Pretend off the Green CD.
2. They Might Be Giants – First heard at a very small party with close friends in grade 11. The song was Birdhouse in your Soul, it was on a mixed tape brought by a friend’s girlfriend.
3. Liz Phair – January, 2001. This was right after Christmas where I somehow ended up with Whitechocolatespaceegg in my bag of Christmas Gifts. I listened to it the week when I got back to work. The first song would have been Whitechocolatespaceegg (first track on the CD)
And so on. I can do this for just about any of the favorites in my top ten. The nice thing about this test is it works for any entertainment medium.
Bonus (worth extra points)!
Some other signs you think about music too much
1. You are worried about bands you don’t like because you think you “should”. You think about these bands a lot and it bothers you that you don’t like them. (mine – The Hold Steady, Interpol, Band of Horses, Ambulance LTD, Neutral Milk Hotel”
2. You like certain songs because of one line and put them on a CD just to hear that one line, even though you mostly don’t care for the song (mine – The Accident by Calamine)
3. You randomly and frequently come up with ranking mechanisms for your songs. You probably have hundreds, they change every day.
4. Your iPod playlists are very specifically divided – walking music, working music, work out music, driving music, etc.