Do you have a favorite song or artist? For many, this answer is easy — you probably have a handful of favorite songs or bands or solo artists. For me, favorites when it comes to music has always been a struggle.
Growing up, car-ride entertainment did not come from a radio but a CD player. Many of the discs were a mix of hits (think “Now That’s What I Call Music!” for example). In this way, I formed my attachment not to musical groups, rather to songs. Consequently, when people ask me, what music I like to listen to, I struggle to answer saying something like — lots of things, rap, pop, some rock, alternative, you know, whatever. For those of you who love music, you already know that this response is unacceptable. Then, the probing continues, and I am asked to list individual artists that I like to listen to. This question is infuriating because I just don’t understand it. For example, if Artist A has 30 songs and I “love” 2 of the songs, think 3 of the songs are “fine/okay,” and have never even heard the remaining 25 songs, do I really like Artist A? With a few exceptions, that’s basically how I relate to musical artists — an iceberg effect where I know their few most-played hits but the bulk of their music remains out of sight.
On the whole, I enjoy having favorites (who doesn’t love love!? — more here about my favorite movie), but with musical artists it has been hard. For me, the artists that I like most are the ones that I have “known” the longest, for example, Michael Jackson whose music I listened to even in kindergarten. I know that I was at least this young, as we had a kindergarten field trip to “the city” and I saw a man who I thought was Michael Jackson riding public transportation (yes, my still developing brain was absolutely convinced the pale, long-haired man sitting on the subway was the Michael Jackson). However, there are not many artists that I have been listening to for my whole life… or so I thought.
A few months back, I attended a small get-together with grad school pals, where we fell into conversation about the 70’s-era-Swedish pop-disco group ABBA. I can’t remember what exactly was said, but someone adamantly declared ABBA’s song “Waterloo” to be “great” or “superior” or “the best” or some other superlative. I considered this and conceded that I liked a few ABBA songs, but I had no special connection to “Waterloo.” I remember the song “Dancing Queen” being played at an elementary school dance. I participated in a choreographed dance routine in high school to the song “Money, Money, Money” and around the same time, I also acquired a piano book filled with ABBA hits including “Super Trooper,” “Voulez-Vous” and others.
I quickly forgot about this conversation until a few months later when I was in a fitness class and a familiar tune came on the radio. I was hearing the ascending and descending allegro piano intro of “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” however, the song was not by ABBA, rather by Madonna (only borrowing the ABBA intro). I was equal parts delighted (to hear a funky remix) and disappointed (I wanted ABBA!). A few weeks later (erm, the day that I am writing this post), an actual ABBA song came over the speakers of the same fitness class. This time it was “Lay All Your Love on Me.” Somehow, I forgot that I have always liked this song. In my typical all-or-nothing, obsessive fashion, I played this song non-stop as I worked on a different blog post. You know those YouTube videos where they play the same song on a loop for a literal hour — those videos are made for people like me 🙂
Later today, as I sat down to get more work done, I wanted to listen to “Lay All Your Love on Me” again but was becoming irked by all the YouTube ads. Very reluctantly, I opened the iTunes app and hovered my finger over the $1.29 purchase button for the track, when I realized that the whole album cost $9.99 but featured 19 total songs — a bargain. I checked out the rest of the album and was floored when I realized that not only did I know the overwhelming majority of the songs, but I also liked them (¡this never happens to me!). Oh, what a feeling! Buying albums is so rare for me that this purchase constitutes a big event in my life (I know, I’m simple and odd).
I love love; I love music, and I guess now I love ABBA. That guy in my grad program was right, ABBA is awesome.
I hope you will listen to ABBA after reading this, dear Reader, they’ve got some quality stuff 🙂