Your Favorites vs what You Think is Best, Overplay, Hits Bias, and Objectivity

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SwimmingSorrows

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Prepare for a rambling mess.

I've just started the song eliminations, and I was somewhat surprised to see that classics and fan favorites like Gloria, I Will Follow, and Sunday Bloody Sunday are already getting votes in the first and second rounds.  I'd expect to see this with their later stuff, but in their early material, before the hits and singles became associated with the band selling out and playing it safe, I wasn't expecting it this fast.

So, I got to thinking why somebody would vote to eliminate Gloria over forgettable filler like With a Shout or Stranger in a Strange Land.  And, more broadly, I started thinking about why every band has a subset of fans who hate their best-known songs.  I want to start a discussion not necessarily about these elimination round votes specifically, but about what makes some fans turn against a band's best-known material, be it overplay, a bias against popular things, or whatever. 

For the song eliminations, I chose to say that people should vote for what they think is the worst song on each album rather than for their least favorite.  Do you distinguish between your favorite song on a record and what you think is the best song on a record?

Some don't, and some do.  I don't know which side is "right" or if it's possible to say either side is.  On one hand, overplay can make you sick of a song you've heard a lot, and that can make you like it less, but you having heard the song too many times doesn't make the song any worse.  On the other hand, who's to say what's good and what's bad?  Total objectivity in music is impossible, so why even try? 

Do people who think that the classic song is the worst song on a mostly poorly-regarded album have bad taste?  Are they wrong?  What even is bad taste?  Is it the ability to accurately judge a song's quality, or is it just having tastes that match what most other people think?  Why are some songs like Sunday Bloody Sunday, which wasn't even a single in all but like one country, loved and remembered by millions, maybe even hundreds of millions, while the lead single from the same album is pretty much just remembered by the band's fans?  What is it about Sunday Bloody Sunday that has caused that? 

Anyways, if you have anything to say about this haphazard mess of half thoughts, discuss below.
There's a bible verse,
says the last one shall be first.
Well, if that verse is true,
there's hope for me and you.
-Kevin Kerby

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riffraff

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Interesting.

I think overplay has a lot to do with some voting. I think voting for Gloria is bad taste (JUST KIDDING!)

We all have different reasons for loving or not loving songs...some reasons make sense, some reasons are personal, some reasons are just crazy.

Now, I don't think what I have typed here makes any sense at all, so I'm leaving.  ;D
Deep in the heart of this place

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MPare1966

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Purely based on my favorites for the elimination game. There's no objectivity possible in art.

Overplay has no impact on my picks, same with live perfomances. But I can understand the effects on some.

First Chair. Last Call.

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SwimmingSorrows

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Purely based on my favorites for the elimination game. There's no objectivity possible in art.

Overplay has no impact on my picks, same with live perfomances. But I can understand the effects on some.

I think there can be some form of objectivity in music.  Somebody can be an objectively bad singer for example if they aren't capable of hitting/holding notes.

I've played various U2 songs to several friends of mine who aren't fans, and I find how predictable their responses are pretty striking.  Without telling them anything about how popular any song is, they almost all tend to gravitate towards the same songs, with some variation of course.  I've played the album Zooropa for 5 different friends of mine, 4 of whom picked Stay as their favorite, one of whom picked it as her second favorite behind Zooropa the song.

There is something about the more popular classics that draws more people to them than U2's other songs, and I think it's something to do with melody.  The vocal melodies of Sunday Bloody Sunday, Gloria, I Will Follow, and other hits like Pride, One, and With or Without You stick in people's heads quicker.  I do think there is some kind of objectivity to an instantly memorable melody.  Catchiness seems to be almost universal.  There are plenty of songs that I don't like but that are definitely catchy as hell.

That's why if I was going to choose songs to play a non-fan, I wouldn't go with the deep cuts that a lot of fans prefer like Acrobat.  Once we hardcore fans have heard all of their songs over and remember every line anyway, I think a lot of us stop caring how memorable each song's melody is.  I remember playing Bad, one of my absolute favorite songs by them, for someone and them just being bored by it.  I played them Pride, which is often looked down on here, and they instantly loved it.  I also remember my first time hearing Pride, in a McDonalds of all places, and being instantly hooked by that chorus. 

I think there is value in a song being catchy and memorable, and I think it's a quality hardcore fans tend to ignore.
There's a bible verse,
says the last one shall be first.
Well, if that verse is true,
there's hope for me and you.
-Kevin Kerby

*

MPare1966

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Purely based on my favorites for the elimination game. There's no objectivity possible in art.

Overplay has no impact on my picks, same with live perfomances. But I can understand the effects on some.

I think there can be some form of objectivity in music.  Somebody can be an objectively bad singer for example if they aren't capable of hitting/holding notes.

I've played various U2 songs to several friends of mine who aren't fans, and I find how predictable their responses are pretty striking.  Without telling them anything about how popular any song is, they almost all tend to gravitate towards the same songs, with some variation of course.  I've played the album Zooropa for 5 different friends of mine, 4 of whom picked Stay as their favorite, one of whom picked it as her second favorite behind Zooropa the song.

There is something about the more popular classics that draws more people to them than U2's other songs, and I think it's something to do with melody.  The vocal melodies of Sunday Bloody Sunday, Gloria, I Will Follow, and other hits like Pride, One, and With or Without You stick in people's heads quicker.  I do think there is some kind of objectivity to an instantly memorable melody.  Catchiness seems to be almost universal.  There are plenty of songs that I don't like but that are definitely catchy as hell.

That's why if I was going to choose songs to play a non-fan, I wouldn't go with the deep cuts that a lot of fans prefer like Acrobat.  Once we hardcore fans have heard all of their songs over and remember every line anyway, I think a lot of us stop caring how memorable each song's melody is.  I remember playing Bad, one of my absolute favorite songs by them, for someone and them just being bored by it.  I played them Pride, which is often looked down on here, and they instantly loved it.  I also remember my first time hearing Pride, in a McDonalds of all places, and being instantly hooked by that chorus. 

I think there is value in a song being catchy and memorable, and I think it's a quality hardcore fans tend to ignore.

Of course, thereís value in catchy melodies. But itís far from absolute.

Some memorable melodies in the history of music (think Mozartís Piano Sonata no. 11 for example) are universally acclaimed to this day. Does that mean that every classical music aficionado will rank it as the absolute best ever written? Probably not.

But the first time anybody hears it, itís instantly entrenched in their mind, and probably for ever.

IMHO, a catchy and memorable melody is just one aspect of what makes a piece of music great. And defining that ďgreatnessĒ with objective criteria is not an easy task.
First Chair. Last Call.

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an tha

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Purely based on my favorites for the elimination game. There's no objectivity possible in art.

Overplay has no impact on my picks, same with live perfomances. But I can understand the effects on some.

I think there can be some form of objectivity in music.  Somebody can be an objectively bad singer for example if they aren't capable of hitting/holding notes.

I've played various U2 songs to several friends of mine who aren't fans, and I find how predictable their responses are pretty striking.  Without telling them anything about how popular any song is, they almost all tend to gravitate towards the same songs, with some variation of course.  I've played the album Zooropa for 5 different friends of mine, 4 of whom picked Stay as their favorite, one of whom picked it as her second favorite behind Zooropa the song.

There is something about the more popular classics that draws more people to them than U2's other songs, and I think it's something to do with melody.  The vocal melodies of Sunday Bloody Sunday, Gloria, I Will Follow, and other hits like Pride, One, and With or Without You stick in people's heads quicker.  I do think there is some kind of objectivity to an instantly memorable melody.  Catchiness seems to be almost universal.  There are plenty of songs that I don't like but that are definitely catchy as hell.

That's why if I was going to choose songs to play a non-fan, I wouldn't go with the deep cuts that a lot of fans prefer like Acrobat.  Once we hardcore fans have heard all of their songs over and remember every line anyway, I think a lot of us stop caring how memorable each song's melody is.  I remember playing Bad, one of my absolute favorite songs by them, for someone and them just being bored by it.  I played them Pride, which is often looked down on here, and they instantly loved it.  I also remember my first time hearing Pride, in a McDonalds of all places, and being instantly hooked by that chorus. 

I think there is value in a song being catchy and memorable, and I think it's a quality hardcore fans tend to ignore.

Generally speaking we are sort of pre-programmed to like familiar 'normal' patterns.....this is why people like generic/catchy songs with patterns they are comfortable with.

Firstly - The familiar is comfortable. The unfamiliar is uncomfortable and people like to be comfortable.

We generally like major chords for example. They make us feel good and we are used to them as we hear them a lot....so most pop music is going to have a lot of major chords. and patterns that are proven over and over.

You and I have discussed this kind of thing before!...

Have a look at last few posts here:

https://forum.talku2.com/index.php?topic=1358.msg245271#msg245271



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SwimmingSorrows

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Purely based on my favorites for the elimination game. There's no objectivity possible in art.

Overplay has no impact on my picks, same with live perfomances. But I can understand the effects on some.

I think there can be some form of objectivity in music.  Somebody can be an objectively bad singer for example if they aren't capable of hitting/holding notes.

I've played various U2 songs to several friends of mine who aren't fans, and I find how predictable their responses are pretty striking.  Without telling them anything about how popular any song is, they almost all tend to gravitate towards the same songs, with some variation of course.  I've played the album Zooropa for 5 different friends of mine, 4 of whom picked Stay as their favorite, one of whom picked it as her second favorite behind Zooropa the song.

There is something about the more popular classics that draws more people to them than U2's other songs, and I think it's something to do with melody.  The vocal melodies of Sunday Bloody Sunday, Gloria, I Will Follow, and other hits like Pride, One, and With or Without You stick in people's heads quicker.  I do think there is some kind of objectivity to an instantly memorable melody.  Catchiness seems to be almost universal.  There are plenty of songs that I don't like but that are definitely catchy as hell.

That's why if I was going to choose songs to play a non-fan, I wouldn't go with the deep cuts that a lot of fans prefer like Acrobat.  Once we hardcore fans have heard all of their songs over and remember every line anyway, I think a lot of us stop caring how memorable each song's melody is.  I remember playing Bad, one of my absolute favorite songs by them, for someone and them just being bored by it.  I played them Pride, which is often looked down on here, and they instantly loved it.  I also remember my first time hearing Pride, in a McDonalds of all places, and being instantly hooked by that chorus. 

I think there is value in a song being catchy and memorable, and I think it's a quality hardcore fans tend to ignore.

Generally speaking we are sort of pre-programmed to like familiar 'normal' patterns.....this is why people like generic/catchy songs with patterns they are comfortable with.

Firstly - The familiar is comfortable. The unfamiliar is uncomfortable and people like to be comfortable.

We generally like major chords for example. They make us feel good and we are used to them as we hear them a lot....so most pop music is going to have a lot of major chords. and patterns that are proven over and over.

You and I have discussed this kind of thing before!...

Have a look at last few posts here:

https://forum.talku2.com/index.php?topic=1358.msg245271#msg245271

We have, but I don't think that really explains it though.  Two Hearts Beat as One is in a major key and has a basic Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-etc structure and is in a major key.  Sunday Bloody Sunday has a slightly less conventional structure with a chorus, a bridge, and a refrain that goes over the verse chords, which is the hook, and it's in a minor key.  Sunday Bloody Sunday is the less conventional song of the two and wasn't a single, but it is a monster classic, and Two Hearts isn't.  I think that is down to how good the melodies in that song are.

The most popular song of the entire 20th century is Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, a six and half minute song with an opera section, no chorus, and lyrics where a character says he's just committed murder.  It's not traditionally structured by any means, but it sure as hell is catchy and memorable.  Anybody who's heard that song once remembers it.

Also I don't think minor chords are really any less familiar to people than major chords.  The vast majority of songs have minor chords in them, even songs in major keys.  Everyone in the western world has heard thousands of minor chords played and has heard them since before they can remember.  Minor key songs are generally sadder though, which is partially due to association and partially due to a bit of extra dissonance I think.  Hit songs are generally happier, which is why major keys are more popular, but there are also plenty of really sad hit songs.

I don't deny that some songs aren't hits because they're too weird for people, but there are also a massive number of songs that are safe and traditional and barely remembered.  Another U2 example, In God's Country is more traditionally structured that With or Without You, yet the latter song is the massive hit.  I think that's because the melodies in WOWY are more beautiful, more memorable, and catchier.
There's a bible verse,
says the last one shall be first.
Well, if that verse is true,
there's hope for me and you.
-Kevin Kerby

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Achtung Baby

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I vote for the songs I like the most.  Some are singles/hits/well known.  Some are rarities.  I will say that I find my opinion of a song performed live has probably affected my perceptions to an extent in some instances.  It can be tougher for me to separate the two versions at this point.
Sometimes

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MPare1966

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Purely based on my favorites for the elimination game. There's no objectivity possible in art.

Overplay has no impact on my picks, same with live perfomances. But I can understand the effects on some.

I think there can be some form of objectivity in music.  Somebody can be an objectively bad singer for example if they aren't capable of hitting/holding notes.

I've played various U2 songs to several friends of mine who aren't fans, and I find how predictable their responses are pretty striking.  Without telling them anything about how popular any song is, they almost all tend to gravitate towards the same songs, with some variation of course.  I've played the album Zooropa for 5 different friends of mine, 4 of whom picked Stay as their favorite, one of whom picked it as her second favorite behind Zooropa the song.

There is something about the more popular classics that draws more people to them than U2's other songs, and I think it's something to do with melody.  The vocal melodies of Sunday Bloody Sunday, Gloria, I Will Follow, and other hits like Pride, One, and With or Without You stick in people's heads quicker.  I do think there is some kind of objectivity to an instantly memorable melody.  Catchiness seems to be almost universal.  There are plenty of songs that I don't like but that are definitely catchy as hell.

That's why if I was going to choose songs to play a non-fan, I wouldn't go with the deep cuts that a lot of fans prefer like Acrobat.  Once we hardcore fans have heard all of their songs over and remember every line anyway, I think a lot of us stop caring how memorable each song's melody is.  I remember playing Bad, one of my absolute favorite songs by them, for someone and them just being bored by it.  I played them Pride, which is often looked down on here, and they instantly loved it.  I also remember my first time hearing Pride, in a McDonalds of all places, and being instantly hooked by that chorus. 

I think there is value in a song being catchy and memorable, and I think it's a quality hardcore fans tend to ignore.

Generally speaking we are sort of pre-programmed to like familiar 'normal' patterns.....this is why people like generic/catchy songs with patterns they are comfortable with.

Firstly - The familiar is comfortable. The unfamiliar is uncomfortable and people like to be comfortable.

We generally like major chords for example. They make us feel good and we are used to them as we hear them a lot....so most pop music is going to have a lot of major chords. and patterns that are proven over and over.

You and I have discussed this kind of thing before!...

Have a look at last few posts here:

https://forum.talku2.com/index.php?topic=1358.msg245271#msg245271

We have, but I don't think that really explains it though.  Two Hearts Beat as One is in a major key and has a basic Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-etc structure and is in a major key.  Sunday Bloody Sunday has a slightly less conventional structure with a chorus, a bridge, and a refrain that goes over the verse chords, which is the hook, and it's in a minor key.  Sunday Bloody Sunday is the less conventional song of the two and wasn't a single, but it is a monster classic, and Two Hearts isn't.  I think that is down to how good the melodies in that song are.

The most popular song of the entire 20th century is Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, a six and half minute song with an opera section, no chorus, and lyrics where a character says he's just committed murder.  It's not traditionally structured by any means, but it sure as hell is catchy and memorable.  Anybody who's heard that song once remembers it.

Also I don't think minor chords are really any less familiar to people than major chords.  The vast majority of songs have minor chords in them, even songs in major keys.  Everyone in the western world has heard thousands of minor chords played and has heard them since before they can remember.  Minor key songs are generally sadder though, which is partially due to association and partially due to a bit of extra dissonance I think.  Hit songs are generally happier, which is why major keys are more popular, but there are also plenty of really sad hit songs.

I don't deny that some songs aren't hits because they're too weird for people, but there are also a massive number of songs that are safe and traditional and barely remembered.  Another U2 example, In God's Country is more traditionally structured that With or Without You, yet the latter song is the massive hit.  I think that's because the melodies in WOWY are more beautiful, more memorable, and catchier.

All this music technicality stuff brings a question I want to ask, since Iím no musician:

What does Cohen mean by: The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, the major lift ?

Honest question. Iíve always wondered.
First Chair. Last Call.

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an tha

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  • And you can swallow, or you can spit....
Purely based on my favorites for the elimination game. There's no objectivity possible in art.

Overplay has no impact on my picks, same with live perfomances. But I can understand the effects on some.

I think there can be some form of objectivity in music.  Somebody can be an objectively bad singer for example if they aren't capable of hitting/holding notes.

I've played various U2 songs to several friends of mine who aren't fans, and I find how predictable their responses are pretty striking.  Without telling them anything about how popular any song is, they almost all tend to gravitate towards the same songs, with some variation of course.  I've played the album Zooropa for 5 different friends of mine, 4 of whom picked Stay as their favorite, one of whom picked it as her second favorite behind Zooropa the song.

There is something about the more popular classics that draws more people to them than U2's other songs, and I think it's something to do with melody.  The vocal melodies of Sunday Bloody Sunday, Gloria, I Will Follow, and other hits like Pride, One, and With or Without You stick in people's heads quicker.  I do think there is some kind of objectivity to an instantly memorable melody.  Catchiness seems to be almost universal.  There are plenty of songs that I don't like but that are definitely catchy as hell.

That's why if I was going to choose songs to play a non-fan, I wouldn't go with the deep cuts that a lot of fans prefer like Acrobat.  Once we hardcore fans have heard all of their songs over and remember every line anyway, I think a lot of us stop caring how memorable each song's melody is.  I remember playing Bad, one of my absolute favorite songs by them, for someone and them just being bored by it.  I played them Pride, which is often looked down on here, and they instantly loved it.  I also remember my first time hearing Pride, in a McDonalds of all places, and being instantly hooked by that chorus. 

I think there is value in a song being catchy and memorable, and I think it's a quality hardcore fans tend to ignore.

Generally speaking we are sort of pre-programmed to like familiar 'normal' patterns.....this is why people like generic/catchy songs with patterns they are comfortable with.

Firstly - The familiar is comfortable. The unfamiliar is uncomfortable and people like to be comfortable.

We generally like major chords for example. They make us feel good and we are used to them as we hear them a lot....so most pop music is going to have a lot of major chords. and patterns that are proven over and over.

You and I have discussed this kind of thing before!...

Have a look at last few posts here:

https://forum.talku2.com/index.php?topic=1358.msg245271#msg245271

We have, but I don't think that really explains it though.  Two Hearts Beat as One is in a major key and has a basic Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-etc structure and is in a major key.  Sunday Bloody Sunday has a slightly less conventional structure with a chorus, a bridge, and a refrain that goes over the verse chords, which is the hook, and it's in a minor key.  Sunday Bloody Sunday is the less conventional song of the two and wasn't a single, but it is a monster classic, and Two Hearts isn't.  I think that is down to how good the melodies in that song are.

The most popular song of the entire 20th century is Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, a six and half minute song with an opera section, no chorus, and lyrics where a character says he's just committed murder.  It's not traditionally structured by any means, but it sure as hell is catchy and memorable.  Anybody who's heard that song once remembers it.

Also I don't think minor chords are really any less familiar to people than major chords.  The vast majority of songs have minor chords in them, even songs in major keys.  Everyone in the western world has heard thousands of minor chords played and has heard them since before they can remember.  Minor key songs are generally sadder though, which is partially due to association and partially due to a bit of extra dissonance I think.  Hit songs are generally happier, which is why major keys are more popular, but there are also plenty of really sad hit songs.

I don't deny that some songs aren't hits because they're too weird for people, but there are also a massive number of songs that are safe and traditional and barely remembered.  Another U2 example, In God's Country is more traditionally structured that With or Without You, yet the latter song is the massive hit.  I think that's because the melodies in WOWY are more beautiful, more memorable, and catchier.

Can always find exceptions to any 'rules'.

And with the huge sample that is the history of music it is easy to do so...

Catchy or familiar will not guarantee you a hit, less catchy or umfamiliar will not mean you won't get a hit...but there is definitely a bias.

As for songs that are 'out of the norm' like Bohemian Rhapsody, they tend to be succesful or popular because they are actually a novelty and in my view Bohemian Rhapsody is full of singalong tropes anyway and that is why it is remembered, as you say it is catchy - i know people who aren't heavily into music at all who go mad for it and can sing along with it word for word......inscrutable and obscure it certainly is not.

Generally people don't want to think too much about music.....geeks like us on here do, but we are not really the 'norm'

Music is entertainment and people largely don't really care too much about the detail.

My favourite artist PJ Harvey has not had all that many big hits...her most well known and probably popular song with the masses is IMO 'Down by The Water'.....it is a song about filicide......hardly a mainstream or nice subject....but it was a hit because it had a glossy video that mtv picked up and because the masses liked the 'little fish, big fish swimming in the water' refrain - that was catchy and repetitive....it is generally pretty easy to singalong with especially where the lines are repeated in the song.

Do the masses 'get' what the song is about or even care?

No, not in my opinion.

I find it far, far, far from her best work personally.

I'm not saying that applies to everyone as of course it does not, but i do think that generally people are mostly interested in a catchy refrain or tune, or something easy to singalong to/understand/remember or a nice simple universal theme like love or lost love.....put the two together and it is bingo with Joe Public.

It is why IMO a big ballad like that Adele song with the 'i wish nothing but the best for you' refrain was a mega smash.....nice easy tune to singalong to, rhyming couplet lyrics, universal theme...that kind of song will always go down better with the masses than say for arguments sake something like Love is Blindness would....IMO LIB is vastly, vastly superior though.

It is deeply complex of course and it is very interesting!

« Last Edit: September 01, 2020, 09:58:45 PM by an tha »

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an tha

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Purely based on my favorites for the elimination game. There's no objectivity possible in art.

Overplay has no impact on my picks, same with live perfomances. But I can understand the effects on some.

I think there can be some form of objectivity in music.  Somebody can be an objectively bad singer for example if they aren't capable of hitting/holding notes.

I've played various U2 songs to several friends of mine who aren't fans, and I find how predictable their responses are pretty striking.  Without telling them anything about how popular any song is, they almost all tend to gravitate towards the same songs, with some variation of course.  I've played the album Zooropa for 5 different friends of mine, 4 of whom picked Stay as their favorite, one of whom picked it as her second favorite behind Zooropa the song.

There is something about the more popular classics that draws more people to them than U2's other songs, and I think it's something to do with melody.  The vocal melodies of Sunday Bloody Sunday, Gloria, I Will Follow, and other hits like Pride, One, and With or Without You stick in people's heads quicker.  I do think there is some kind of objectivity to an instantly memorable melody.  Catchiness seems to be almost universal.  There are plenty of songs that I don't like but that are definitely catchy as hell.

That's why if I was going to choose songs to play a non-fan, I wouldn't go with the deep cuts that a lot of fans prefer like Acrobat.  Once we hardcore fans have heard all of their songs over and remember every line anyway, I think a lot of us stop caring how memorable each song's melody is.  I remember playing Bad, one of my absolute favorite songs by them, for someone and them just being bored by it.  I played them Pride, which is often looked down on here, and they instantly loved it.  I also remember my first time hearing Pride, in a McDonalds of all places, and being instantly hooked by that chorus. 

I think there is value in a song being catchy and memorable, and I think it's a quality hardcore fans tend to ignore.

Generally speaking we are sort of pre-programmed to like familiar 'normal' patterns.....this is why people like generic/catchy songs with patterns they are comfortable with.

Firstly - The familiar is comfortable. The unfamiliar is uncomfortable and people like to be comfortable.

We generally like major chords for example. They make us feel good and we are used to them as we hear them a lot....so most pop music is going to have a lot of major chords. and patterns that are proven over and over.

You and I have discussed this kind of thing before!...

Have a look at last few posts here:

https://forum.talku2.com/index.php?topic=1358.msg245271#msg245271

We have, but I don't think that really explains it though.  Two Hearts Beat as One is in a major key and has a basic Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-etc structure and is in a major key.  Sunday Bloody Sunday has a slightly less conventional structure with a chorus, a bridge, and a refrain that goes over the verse chords, which is the hook, and it's in a minor key.  Sunday Bloody Sunday is the less conventional song of the two and wasn't a single, but it is a monster classic, and Two Hearts isn't.  I think that is down to how good the melodies in that song are.

The most popular song of the entire 20th century is Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, a six and half minute song with an opera section, no chorus, and lyrics where a character says he's just committed murder.  It's not traditionally structured by any means, but it sure as hell is catchy and memorable.  Anybody who's heard that song once remembers it.

Also I don't think minor chords are really any less familiar to people than major chords.  The vast majority of songs have minor chords in them, even songs in major keys.  Everyone in the western world has heard thousands of minor chords played and has heard them since before they can remember.  Minor key songs are generally sadder though, which is partially due to association and partially due to a bit of extra dissonance I think.  Hit songs are generally happier, which is why major keys are more popular, but there are also plenty of really sad hit songs.

I don't deny that some songs aren't hits because they're too weird for people, but there are also a massive number of songs that are safe and traditional and barely remembered.  Another U2 example, In God's Country is more traditionally structured that With or Without You, yet the latter song is the massive hit.  I think that's because the melodies in WOWY are more beautiful, more memorable, and catchier.

All this music technicality stuff brings a question I want to ask, since Iím no musician:

What does Cohen mean by: The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, the major lift ?

Honest question. Iíve always wondered.

I know this but i'll explain it badly...so read this which explains it well!

https://www.classicfm.com/discover-music/secret-chord-leonard-cohens-hallelujah-music/

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laoghaire

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I have noticed there are some people for whom "the objectively best songs" (objective to them of course lol) are the same as "my favorite songs." I think their rankings tend to stay in stone, as well.

Not so with me. If you asked me to compile a list of THE VERY BEST U2 SONGS, it will be different from my list of "favorites," and that list is also different from "most frequently played." Also, the latter two liste will shift around somewhat.

I don't know if people enjoy a song based solely on the idea of "this is an objectively quality song." Some songs for me may have middling quality but:

1) Are associated with good memories (like Smee, the October album brings me back viscerally to a time and place that was good)

2) Energize me (Is That All is not an objectively great song but I really feel pumped listening to it)

3) Soothe me (TTTYAATW just does that for me)

4) Has lyrics that I relate to my life in some way or make me think about something in more depth

Or maybe a few other factors as well.

Alternatively, YES, I can get tired of a song. Bad doesn't come through my earbuds often. I love Bad. But between 1989 and 1999, I played it 1,653,779 times. It is a great fucking song. That's why I killed it. But gee whiz.

Also, sometimes I will find something "new" in a song for one reason ir another, and it will breathe new life into it for me.

So, SS, I've been trying to eliminate tracks based more on the objective-ish side, but I suspect I may make a few choices that are influenced by other factors.

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MPare1966

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Purely based on my favorites for the elimination game. There's no objectivity possible in art.

Overplay has no impact on my picks, same with live perfomances. But I can understand the effects on some.

I think there can be some form of objectivity in music.  Somebody can be an objectively bad singer for example if they aren't capable of hitting/holding notes.

I've played various U2 songs to several friends of mine who aren't fans, and I find how predictable their responses are pretty striking.  Without telling them anything about how popular any song is, they almost all tend to gravitate towards the same songs, with some variation of course.  I've played the album Zooropa for 5 different friends of mine, 4 of whom picked Stay as their favorite, one of whom picked it as her second favorite behind Zooropa the song.

There is something about the more popular classics that draws more people to them than U2's other songs, and I think it's something to do with melody.  The vocal melodies of Sunday Bloody Sunday, Gloria, I Will Follow, and other hits like Pride, One, and With or Without You stick in people's heads quicker.  I do think there is some kind of objectivity to an instantly memorable melody.  Catchiness seems to be almost universal.  There are plenty of songs that I don't like but that are definitely catchy as hell.

That's why if I was going to choose songs to play a non-fan, I wouldn't go with the deep cuts that a lot of fans prefer like Acrobat.  Once we hardcore fans have heard all of their songs over and remember every line anyway, I think a lot of us stop caring how memorable each song's melody is.  I remember playing Bad, one of my absolute favorite songs by them, for someone and them just being bored by it.  I played them Pride, which is often looked down on here, and they instantly loved it.  I also remember my first time hearing Pride, in a McDonalds of all places, and being instantly hooked by that chorus. 

I think there is value in a song being catchy and memorable, and I think it's a quality hardcore fans tend to ignore.

Generally speaking we are sort of pre-programmed to like familiar 'normal' patterns.....this is why people like generic/catchy songs with patterns they are comfortable with.

Firstly - The familiar is comfortable. The unfamiliar is uncomfortable and people like to be comfortable.

We generally like major chords for example. They make us feel good and we are used to them as we hear them a lot....so most pop music is going to have a lot of major chords. and patterns that are proven over and over.

You and I have discussed this kind of thing before!...

Have a look at last few posts here:

https://forum.talku2.com/index.php?topic=1358.msg245271#msg245271

We have, but I don't think that really explains it though.  Two Hearts Beat as One is in a major key and has a basic Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-etc structure and is in a major key.  Sunday Bloody Sunday has a slightly less conventional structure with a chorus, a bridge, and a refrain that goes over the verse chords, which is the hook, and it's in a minor key.  Sunday Bloody Sunday is the less conventional song of the two and wasn't a single, but it is a monster classic, and Two Hearts isn't.  I think that is down to how good the melodies in that song are.

The most popular song of the entire 20th century is Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, a six and half minute song with an opera section, no chorus, and lyrics where a character says he's just committed murder.  It's not traditionally structured by any means, but it sure as hell is catchy and memorable.  Anybody who's heard that song once remembers it.

Also I don't think minor chords are really any less familiar to people than major chords.  The vast majority of songs have minor chords in them, even songs in major keys.  Everyone in the western world has heard thousands of minor chords played and has heard them since before they can remember.  Minor key songs are generally sadder though, which is partially due to association and partially due to a bit of extra dissonance I think.  Hit songs are generally happier, which is why major keys are more popular, but there are also plenty of really sad hit songs.

I don't deny that some songs aren't hits because they're too weird for people, but there are also a massive number of songs that are safe and traditional and barely remembered.  Another U2 example, In God's Country is more traditionally structured that With or Without You, yet the latter song is the massive hit.  I think that's because the melodies in WOWY are more beautiful, more memorable, and catchier.

All this music technicality stuff brings a question I want to ask, since Iím no musician:

What does Cohen mean by: The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, the major lift ?

Honest question. Iíve always wondered.

I know this but i'll explain it badly...so read this which explains it well!

https://www.classicfm.com/discover-music/secret-chord-leonard-cohens-hallelujah-music/

Thanks! Great explanation.  :D

What a fascinating song.
First Chair. Last Call.

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Pride

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I don't know if people enjoy a song based solely on the idea of "this is an objectively quality song." Some songs for me may have middling quality but:

1) Are associated with good memories (like Smee, the October album brings me back viscerally to a time and place that was good)


Exactly why I love J Swallo.
Or is it now?

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SwimmingSorrows

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Purely based on my favorites for the elimination game. There's no objectivity possible in art.

Overplay has no impact on my picks, same with live perfomances. But I can understand the effects on some.

I think there can be some form of objectivity in music.  Somebody can be an objectively bad singer for example if they aren't capable of hitting/holding notes.

I've played various U2 songs to several friends of mine who aren't fans, and I find how predictable their responses are pretty striking.  Without telling them anything about how popular any song is, they almost all tend to gravitate towards the same songs, with some variation of course.  I've played the album Zooropa for 5 different friends of mine, 4 of whom picked Stay as their favorite, one of whom picked it as her second favorite behind Zooropa the song.

There is something about the more popular classics that draws more people to them than U2's other songs, and I think it's something to do with melody.  The vocal melodies of Sunday Bloody Sunday, Gloria, I Will Follow, and other hits like Pride, One, and With or Without You stick in people's heads quicker.  I do think there is some kind of objectivity to an instantly memorable melody.  Catchiness seems to be almost universal.  There are plenty of songs that I don't like but that are definitely catchy as hell.

That's why if I was going to choose songs to play a non-fan, I wouldn't go with the deep cuts that a lot of fans prefer like Acrobat.  Once we hardcore fans have heard all of their songs over and remember every line anyway, I think a lot of us stop caring how memorable each song's melody is.  I remember playing Bad, one of my absolute favorite songs by them, for someone and them just being bored by it.  I played them Pride, which is often looked down on here, and they instantly loved it.  I also remember my first time hearing Pride, in a McDonalds of all places, and being instantly hooked by that chorus. 

I think there is value in a song being catchy and memorable, and I think it's a quality hardcore fans tend to ignore.

Generally speaking we are sort of pre-programmed to like familiar 'normal' patterns.....this is why people like generic/catchy songs with patterns they are comfortable with.

Firstly - The familiar is comfortable. The unfamiliar is uncomfortable and people like to be comfortable.

We generally like major chords for example. They make us feel good and we are used to them as we hear them a lot....so most pop music is going to have a lot of major chords. and patterns that are proven over and over.

You and I have discussed this kind of thing before!...

Have a look at last few posts here:

https://forum.talku2.com/index.php?topic=1358.msg245271#msg245271

We have, but I don't think that really explains it though.  Two Hearts Beat as One is in a major key and has a basic Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-etc structure and is in a major key.  Sunday Bloody Sunday has a slightly less conventional structure with a chorus, a bridge, and a refrain that goes over the verse chords, which is the hook, and it's in a minor key.  Sunday Bloody Sunday is the less conventional song of the two and wasn't a single, but it is a monster classic, and Two Hearts isn't.  I think that is down to how good the melodies in that song are.

The most popular song of the entire 20th century is Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, a six and half minute song with an opera section, no chorus, and lyrics where a character says he's just committed murder.  It's not traditionally structured by any means, but it sure as hell is catchy and memorable.  Anybody who's heard that song once remembers it.

Also I don't think minor chords are really any less familiar to people than major chords.  The vast majority of songs have minor chords in them, even songs in major keys.  Everyone in the western world has heard thousands of minor chords played and has heard them since before they can remember.  Minor key songs are generally sadder though, which is partially due to association and partially due to a bit of extra dissonance I think.  Hit songs are generally happier, which is why major keys are more popular, but there are also plenty of really sad hit songs.

I don't deny that some songs aren't hits because they're too weird for people, but there are also a massive number of songs that are safe and traditional and barely remembered.  Another U2 example, In God's Country is more traditionally structured that With or Without You, yet the latter song is the massive hit.  I think that's because the melodies in WOWY are more beautiful, more memorable, and catchier.

Can always find exceptions to any 'rules'.

And with the huge sample that is the history of music it is easy to do so...

Catchy or familiar will not guarantee you a hit, less catchy or umfamiliar will not mean you won't get a hit...but there is definitely a bias.

As for songs that are 'out of the norm' like Bohemian Rhapsody, they tend to be succesful or popular because they are actually a novelty and in my view Bohemian Rhapsody is full of singalong tropes anyway and that is why it is remembered, as you say it is catchy - i know people who aren't heavily into music at all who go mad for it and can sing along with it word for word......inscrutable and obscure it certainly is not.

Generally people don't want to think too much about music.....geeks like us on here do, but we are not really the 'norm'

Music is entertainment and people largely don't really care too much about the detail.

My favourite artist PJ Harvey has not had all that many big hits...her most well known and probably popular song with the masses is IMO 'Down by The Water'.....it is a song about filicide......hardly a mainstream or nice subject....but it was a hit because it had a glossy video that mtv picked up and because the masses liked the 'little fish, big fish swimming in the water' refrain - that was catchy and repetitive....it is generally pretty easy to singalong with especially where the lines are repeated in the song.

Do the masses 'get' what the song is about or even care?

No, not in my opinion.

I find it far, far, far from her best work personally.

I'm not saying that applies to everyone as of course it does not, but i do think that generally people are mostly interested in a catchy refrain or tune, or something easy to singalong to/understand/remember or a nice simple universal theme like love or lost love.....put the two together and it is bingo with Joe Public.

It is why IMO a big ballad like that Adele song with the 'i wish nothing but the best for you' refrain was a mega smash.....nice easy tune to singalong to, rhyming couplet lyrics, universal theme...that kind of song will always go down better with the masses than say for arguments sake something like Love is Blindness would....IMO LIB is vastly, vastly superior though.

It is deeply complex of course and it is very interesting!

The PJ Harvey example is a good one, and interesting for me personally because it is one of only two PJ Harvey songs I really know lol.  And what first hooked me to that song was the "little fish, big fish" refrain.  I do know what it's about though.

I guess I don't really disagree with you that much about what makes a song popular, but I do have a totally different outlook on what makes music great.  I agree that people are mostly interested in a catchy/memorable melody and lyrics they can connect with somehow, but I have no problem with that at all.

My value system on music is best described by this quote from Jason Isbell, one of my favorite songwriters: "I just want to feel like you're trying to tell me something, rather than trying to show me something."  I don't really care about how complex a song is lyrically or musically.    For me, music is primarily about communication, emotion, and beauty.  I want to feel like the songwriter had something to say and isn't holding back, whatever that something might be.  That Adele song's lyrics present real vulnerability and honesty, and I find that really compelling.  In the verses she's earnest and desperate, hiding her true feelings as she talks to this guy diplomatically, but in the chorus she switches to bitter sarcasm before switching once again to desperate pleading.  That messiness reflects the frantic mood swings of somebody in that situation and feeling those feelings, experiencing a lot of pain and struggling to cope with it.  Those lyrics tap into a universal human experience, and I don't think that's a sign that they're bad, quite the opposite in fact.  They don't get people to think that much, but they absolutely do make people feel.

An example of the opposite, and of a song that doesn't do a lot for me, would be Batphone by The Arctic Monkeys.  Melodically, it's meandering and forgettable.  The lyrics do have some intellectual depth and some good lines, "I sell the fact I can't be bought" for example.  However, the lyrics doesn't have a lot of emotional depth.  It's a pretty cold song, and I come out of it having thought it was pretty clever but nothing more.  I don't feel anything when I listen to it, and the melodies don't make me want to listen to it again.

I really identify with the folk and Americana scenes, where the instrumentation is stripped back and what really matters is the melody and the lyrics, where a great song is one that gets the audience to feel something and has a tune they'll be humming on the way home.  For me, melody is probably the most important thing.  Love Is Blindness is a brilliant song with really interesting and affecting lyrics, but without the beautiful and memorable melody, it wouldn't be all that great imo.  A song with great lyrics but without great melodies isn't a great song imo, and part of what makes a melody great is how memorable it is. 
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