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Beedster

How do you decide whether you like a certain song, band, genre.....?

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So, I decided a few weeks back that I had become very set in my ways musically, and started listening in depth to some bands I'd previously decided I didn't like. It's been an interesting psychoanalytic journey in which I've genuinely tried to peel away some of my biases and attitudes. It's also been really good fun, setting out on a Saturday afternoon to listen to a band that, if someone had asked "Do you like .......?" I'd have said "F**k off" :)

Yes did well, Genesis not so well, Warren Zevon extremely well. And yesterday it was Steve Miller, I HATE Abracadabra, Take the Money and Run, and many others I've heard, but he's one of those guys who musicians like. And wow, just like when I was introduced to Chicago, not the 80's band of 'If You Leave Me Now", but the gloriously soulful blues rock outfit as they started, Mr Miller's early stuff didn't disappoint. 

And this song below made me realise something about my taste algorithms, because I liked it and hated it at the same time, put crudely my heart loved it, my head hated it (early bass solo at 2 mins BTW). And then out of nowhere I thought "How would I feel about it if it were in a Tarantino movie ?" and I realised, yep, I'd love it, because it would seem very cool in that context. Movies are the context that has led me to so much great music. 

So how do you decide whether you like something? 

 

 

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I listen to it. If I don’t like it, I’ll usually give it another go, maybe a few more goes. Whilst I can’t say there isn’t any subconscious bias (who can?), I always try to like it, try to be open-minded. Why wouldn’t you? 

Sometimes I try too hard, like with a couple of well-known artists where it took me years to finally admit to myself that I really didn’t like them much.

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When I first heard Tchaikovsky's 'Pathetic' symphony, in my twenties, tears welled up. A couple of decades later, the same left me unmoved. If I listen to it again now, it may well have another, or the same, effect. I don't analyse stuff, I just listen to it. Circumstances, my mood, my health, the medium playing (Radio..? Hifi..? Interweb..?); all sorts of things make a huge difference. There are a few pieces I could listen to at any time, but even then I'm sure it would annoy me if the moment seemed inappropriate, spoiling it for another day. There's no simple 'Yes, I like that | No, I don't like that' with me. It depends on so many factors.
I'll admit to being quite allergic to the 'big beat', 'One, One, One...' disco beats, and reggae bores me quite quickly, though. :$ (Oh, and skirling bagpipes get short shrift, too...)

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Ears, if they like I like. I don’t care about genre, era, band, artist, if the ears approve that’s it. My only filters are I won’t listen to anything extremely political (both sides) or religious. At that point I don’t care how good the music is, the lyrical content tells me no.

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24 minutes ago, 4000 said:

I listen to it. If I don’t like it, I’ll usually give it another go, maybe a few more goes. Whilst I can’t say there isn’t any subconscious bias (who can?), I always try to like it, try to be open-minded. Why wouldn’t you?

Exactly this for me too. I spent much of my teens listening exclusively to three or for bands and dissing any other music and anyone who didn't share my tastes! Now, realising what a bleedin' idiot I'd been, I listen to anything or everything with what I hope is a reasonably open mind. I am still occasionally smitten, as in I know within a few bars that I'm going to really dig something but if something doesn't hit me like that I will still give it a few whirls and see if it grows on me.

24 minutes ago, 4000 said:

Sometimes I try too hard, like with a couple of well-known artists where it took me years to finally admit to myself that I really didn’t like them much.

The opposite for me, some bands I have to finally admit I do like them!

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I'm mainly a rocker and make no apologies for it, but i'll listen to anything that's good.  Best bit is I'm  the one who gets to decide what's good.

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9 minutes ago, Lozz196 said:

Ears, if they like I like. I don’t care about genre, era, band, artist, if the ears approve that’s it. 

+1.

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I tend to find that, when listening to an album, the track I like most soon becomes the one I like least and the one I liked least initially becomes my favourite.

I hate being told what is "good" - if I hear something I haven't heard before and it pleases my ears then I may end up liking it.

I've tried to like Joy Division and Cold Play - pointless exercise I still can't abide either. Guitarists??? Hate them all, with the exception of Hendrix and the live version (22mins) of "Freebird". IMO There should be funding available to pay people to shoot members of 80s mid American rock bands.

 

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2 hours ago, Beedster said:

if someone had asked "Do you like .......?" I'd have said "F**k off"

Fleetwood Mac, Talking Heads, Steely Dan. 😬

Then with other acts I've never given a chance, it seems I was right all along!

Like all prog, British 'blues' from the 60s & 70s, and Springsteen! 🤮

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14 minutes ago, Nail Soup said:

It's all in the name. If the band has a cool name, then I will like them.

Best check out Dirt Box Disco then 😁

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Being weak minded and easily influenced I'll like whatever's on the radio, playing over the supermarket tannoy, anything Amazon suggest and whatever the popular kids like.

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Wanting to play something more than once is a start. Next sign of a like is dropping it into a playlist. 
Today’s finds worthy of repeat - new Mr Bungle, and a ‘73 Gary Bartz album.  

It’s crazy over the years gone by how much music I swerved for spurious reasons, only to revisit years later and enjoy it. 

I think if you genuinely like music - you can’t ever write off a whole genre, you just haven’t yet been exposed to the right stuff for you.  

Edited by Drax
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1 hour ago, Lozz196 said:

Best check out Dirt Box Disco then 😁

Or Max Pax & The Rialto Ballroom Detectives.

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I do try to expand my horizons, but to be honest at 62 I find less stuff outside my comfort zone these days that does it for me. It has to connect fairly quickly I’ve found - all my preferred music has mostly been like this. I do like to be proved wrong occasionally though. 

For me it is about whether I think the artist means it, does it have ‘soul’ for want of a better word, does it make me immediately want to hear it again and does it make me feel something. That’s why I can’t really do with aggressive / shouty / ranting stuff - did that with punk to a certain extent but now my days of wanting that stimulus are over. Not enough to go for jazz in a big way though....😆

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I like what my ears like without any type of filter, and am certainly not interested in having to like that which I can appreciate on a formal basis.
This way I love stuff from C&W to Penderecki to bebop to dance to...  you get the gist.
I'll give it at least two chances, but sometimes years of attempting to like it, unless a song can't keep my interest even for the duration of the first play and my brain tells me there certainly is nothing there for me. 

But of course things are more complicated than that, as others have described well.
For me, sometimes one chord change is enough that I love a song I just would've liked without it.
Similarly it could be a detail in the orchestration that sounds fresh to my ears, like the end of a well-known Arvo Pärt piece with cellos, where the last cello chord hides the striking of a tubular bell. When the cellos stop playing, one hears the bell decay. Glorious.
Sometimes, I detest a well constructed piece of music because it has no heart I can recognise (Californian studio musicians anyone?)


BTW, analysing music I loved ruined my love for them even if my appreciation was augmented, so I learned to exclusively analyse music I disliked.
That was interesting: most of the time, the compositions were better than I thought, and I learned to appreciate them. Sometimes, the appreciation turned into love for the music.

Edited by BassTractor
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Whatever draws me back to listen to it again regardless of who or what it is. Last time it was Julia Jacklin, before that St Vincent and before that it was Daft Punk, which followed The Eagles and so on.

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This is a very interesting point you’ve raised, but not necessarily one I have an answer to.

Our keys player nominated me to do one of those ‘post an album that influences you each day for 10 days’ things on Facebook around the time of the original lockdown. I decided 10 albums wasn’t enough and 240 days later, I’m still doing it every single day. I’m going to do 365.

It’s been an interesting routine and has led me to listen and read about a lot of the artists and albums I love. Most are albums I play quite often anyway, but quite a few are ones on vinyl that I’ve had to blow the dust off. Yesterday’s choice was nearly Rossini, but ended up being The Kinks. I can’t explain why I like either, but I know I do. I’m also aware that others may not and that’s just fine. That’s the beauty of music.

NB: The process has also sent me down some interesting ‘rabbit holes’. Example - I have always liked Thompson Twins and they were my daily selection a few days ago. I was, however, unaware that Tom Bailey was making music again. This led me to listen to his recent (2018) solo album ‘Science Fiction’. Absolutely love it.

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12 hours ago, Beedster said:

Movies are the context that has led me to so much great music. 

I'm no film buff but I always had this idea of a covers band that plays songs off the Vietnam war movies: the Doors, Hendrix, etc. Then I realised with my existing covers band that a lot of the songs we were suggesting all came from movies too. 

I think there's a sensory link. Memories of a good or great movie, the visuals, the tension, and the soundtrack. It's a bit like a convo I'm sure I read on here years back about covers bands, where the gist was it doesn't matter if you're not playing the horn parts in any way, in the minds of an engaged audience they're hearing it through memory and filling the gaps themselves. I think, as a covers band, playing songs that link strongly to events, movies, TV, will always go down well because of the nostalgia element. 

I find with some bands I don't like watching a good live performance can really change my view. E.g I always couldn't stand Limp Bizkit for everything about them: puerile lyrics, Fred Durst, whiny vocals. Then a few months back a friend showed me a live performance of "break stuff" and I think it's amazing. 

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12 hours ago, Dad3353 said:

skirling bagpipes get short shrift, too...)

I'd vote for Scottish independence if that means no more bagpipes ever to be heard in England. And English men wearing kilts at weddings. 

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While I tend to gravitate towards groups that are a bit edgy or quirky from time to time I find myself really liking something that doesn't fit the mold usually a pop song. I remember watching Later With.. and being totally captivated by a 22 year old Norwegian singer Sigrid's performance and the two songs she did. She doesn't fit in with my usual stuff but she was different to all the US and British pop clones

Edited by Barking Spiders

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Another criteria I go by is whether the music would work with a minimal arrangement, maybe unplugged kind of thing? One of the ways to establish it’s a great song / performance for me. I’m mainly drawn to fairly basic and ‘live’ sounding bands / recordings too, so tons of overdubs and studio trickery don’t really cut it for me. Love stripped back / raw performances that connect, even those that aren’t ‘perfect’ - in fact give me rough cuts to polished sheen every time.

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I heard the old Frankie Laine song ‘Answer me’ covered by a female singer many years ago, who I found out was a young Barbara Dickson.  It was an advance play of a single from her forthcoming LP (shows how long ago it was!).

I couldn’t wait to buy the album, and she’s been one of my favourite all time female singers ever since, even though I’m not too keen on her trad folk stuff, but that’s a genre thing.

Similarly Green Onions (Booker T etc) introduced me to Stax, still another favourite.

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