We all have that one song that all it takes is a few bars and it’s in our heads for days, some of them are annoying (“Call Me Maybe…” anyone?) while some are old friends ( “Love is Blindness” by U2 wraps me in a comforting blanket).
I feel I should tell you that I am a professional when it comes to earworms (that’s what they’re called in case you didn’t know) because I was a competitive swimmer and my best event was the 500 meter freestyle (aka 20 laps of uninterrupted splashing pool water); so I would intentionally listen to music before I an event just to get it stuck in my head. Since I’d been swimming the 500 meter freestyle since freshman year I found some songs were more motivational (“We Will Rock You” by Queen comes to mind) and some songs were more calming (like “Any Colour You Like” by Pink Floyd) but they all helped to keep my mind occupied while I was swimming.
I know everyone likes to focus on the annoying songs when they talk about earworms but I think that if you have the right song it can be like having a really friend in your head, and really where’s the downside in that?
When I was in high school my freshman year the shooting at Columbine happened and I was genuinely worried that it was going to happen at my school for two reasons; the first reason being that my high school had the same initials as Columbine high (something I think a lot of schools shared) and the second reason (and a bit more dramatic I’ll admit) was my high school was a powder keg. The tension was always high between the jocks and the freaks, and it seemed even higher right after Columbine. Now I’m sure you’re all wondering what this has to do with music and if you give me a second I’ll explain.
One of the things I heard a lot of in the wake of Columbine was “if those kids hadn’t been listening to that ‘angry music’ then they wouldn’t have been so violent,” and I remember thinking “REALLY?!” people died and you blame the music (not just the music it was also the violent video games too but for the sake of this particular blog I’d like to focus on the music aspect) the shooters listened to? I spent most of my formative high school years (when I wasn’t at swim practice) hiding in my room listening to the Backstreet Boys (before that it was New Kids on the Block but that was in elementary/middle school), the Beatles, U2 (my all time favorite band), and Led Zeppelin, thus begging the question if I went on a shooting rampage then would those artists (some of whom aren’t even alive let alone touring) be blamed for my actions? I would sincerely hope not. I’d also like to add that if I were locked in a room now and forced to listen to the Backstreet Boys nonstop then I probably would go on a shooting rampage but that’s neither here nor there.
I, like I’m sure a lot of people do, find comfort in music. Whether its happy bubble gummy pop (yes I did love “Call Me Maybe…”) or more meaningful classic rock it’s comforting. While a lot of what’s coming out today (I’m looking at you Justin Bieber and One Direction) probably won’t stand the test of time I’m sure some people (read: teenagers) find some level of comfort in it. I know that part of my love for the Backstreet Boys and (yes I’m admitting to it here) Britney Spears came from the fact that I knew it annoyed my parents but the other part of me did actually like them.
My dad’s collection of classic rock cd’s and records is amazing and I used to just sit and listen to his cd collection whenever I could. One summer night my dad, my sister, and I stayed up to watch “The Wizard of Oz” on mute with Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” on over the dialogue. And that is what I think is at the root of our love of music to this day, it’s the memories we attach to these songs! And how when an old familiar song comes on we can relive that same feeling we had when we first fell in love with it and that really is one of the best feelings of all.