When I Discovered My Favorite Songs Aren’t My Favorite Songs…

While I was on a road trip with my girlfriend this summer, I bravely ceded control of my iPod. Flipping through my playlists to find one she liked, she asked me if I wanted to listen to my Top 25 Most Played playlist–a playlist automatically assembled by iTunes and which I had no idea existed. What followed was a surprising series of mini-revelations as to what my favorite songs actually were.

I think that sometimes one gets so caught up in popular and critical opinion that it’s easy to fall in love with the idea of a song more than the song itself, or that you may love one song on an album so much you forget the songs around it that you listen to just as much. So color me surprised when, looking at my music library sorted by plays, The Decemberists didn’t crack the top ten. Nor did The National, or Arcade Fire, or many other bands that I love more than Rufus Wainwright, whose “Poses” is the 6th most played track on my iPod. And my two “favorite” Modest Mouse songs, “3rd Planet” and “Night on the Sun”? They weren’t there either. Looking at “Gravity Rides Everything” sitting atop the list, I realized that “Wow, that actually might be my favorite song.” It’s a strange bit of cognitive dissonance that results from this, triggering the realization that beliefs don’t always match actions. I may claim that “PDA” is my favorite Interpol song, but the facts disagree–and such was my experience with other bands.

With perhaps one exception, I didn’t anticipate any of these songs to be here–and yet they are. They’re the favorite songs that hide in plain sight; the unsung heroes; the crushes that you never notice until someone points it outThe end result is that the next time I’m asked what my favorite songs are, I may have to see if perception matches reality.

Next time you need a playlist to listen to, peruse your Top 25; maybe you’ll be just as surprised as I was.

In the meantime, here’s what I was surprised about: my top 10 most played songs.

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What in the World “Combat Salacious Removal” Means, and Why Abstract Lyrics Work

Sometimes I don’t know why I love the things I love. I was sitting in my room and doing homework this weekend while blasting through Interpol’s 2004 album Antics, singing along to the track “Length of Love”. It’s a great track, starting around a sinister guitar part before it shifts into the kind of ersatz-punk-disco that Interpol is known for. Naturally I’m singing along, but when I get to the chorus I stop and ask myself, “What in the world did I just sing?” See, I had to ask this question because the chorus is just a three word motif sung in Paul Banks’ ALL CAPS monotone. The words? (And I’m not making this up) “COMBAT SALACIOUS REMOVAL”.

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