2 Shades of Grey

Songs from the soundtrack of your life

Leave a comment

Song lyrics are getting more repetitive (and crappier)

That’s official! A Canadian scientist, Colin Morris, has analysed 15,000 songs dating back to 1958. From the poetry of Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell to the modern pap that is churned out by the likes of Rhianna whose song Oxygen mentions America 33 times and breathe 22 times.

The most repetitive was a 1999 song by Sisqo called the Thong song and among the least was the late Chuck Berry’s 1959 song Back in the USA.

He used a compression algorithm which reduces files sizes by assigning repeated sequences a marker rather than storing the whole sequence. So a song with no repeating sequences can’t be reduced in size. On the other hand Daft Punk’s 1997 hit Around the World simply repeats the title 1,480 times and can be compressed 98%.

Songwriter Crispin Hunt blames the trend on the chart-buying public which comprises largely of 8 – 12 -year olds. The music industry focuses on this age group to get them hooked early.

It does raise the question of whether words really mean so much. When music is so repetitive and songs (?) like Get Low by Dillon Francis and DJ Snake comprise solely the words Brr  x 4 and Get low x 28 repetitions.

Leave a comment

Can’t get you out of my head, oh no

stick_figure_listening_to_music_1600_wht_2378If you’ve ever found yourself haunted by a recurring tune in your head – when you’re not wearing headphones – then you’ve probably got an ear worm.

Typically you might be hearing Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t get you out of my head” or the Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody“.

Scientists have now worked out why  songs like these tend to stick in your mind. It’s because they share similarities with nursery rhymes such as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

Researchers at Goldsmith’s College at the University of London have analysed 100 of the most annoyingly persistent songs from the last 50 years as named by 3,000 people.

The ear worm chart was dominated by Lady Gaga (well not for me as I’ve never listened to any of her pretentious output).

They compared the ear worm tracks with 14,000 other songs including songs by Britney Spears (Toxix) and Madness (One step beyond) and found that they haunted people through a mixture of the banal and the unusual. So the trick is to write songs that are generic enough to be easily recognised and too distinctive to be ignored.

A quick rhythm and more jarring leaps between notes were two other factors. For example the riff to Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water or In the Mood by Glen Miller.

The researchers think that their findings might be useful to advertisers who want tunes to stick in your mind long after you first heard them.

Well maybe. In the meantime here are the top most annoying earworms:

  1. Bad Romance by Lady Gaga
  2. Can’t get you out of my mind by Kylie Minogue
  3. Somebody that I used to know by Gotye
  4. Moves like Jagger by Maroon 5
  5. California Girls by Katy Perry
  6. Alejandro by Lady Gaga
  7. Poker Face by Lady Gaga

So you’ve been warned. Ignore these tunes unless you want an earworm!

Leave a comment

Top Tunes for mourners in UK

figures_carrying_casket_1600_wht_13761I’ve posted on this before but it’s good to get an update.

Co-operative Funeralcare has carried out a survey of families’ needs. It seems half of all funeral directors have been presented with playlists on various media platforms in the last year and they are updating sound systems in crematoria and other venues to cope with this.

The idea seems to be that music that was particularly meaningful to the deceased is played during the service.

Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” has been on the top spot again or the last couple of years overtaking the Monty Python’s “Always look on the bright side“.

Time to say goodbye” by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli was the second most popular song followed by Eva Cassidy’s version of “Somewhere over the rainbow“.

Religious music was represented by Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd” in fifth place.

Other songs include Bette Midler’s “Winds beneath my Wings“, Vera Lynn’s “We’ll meet again“, and Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable

Traditional hymns like “Abide with me” and “All Things bright and beautiful” are also represented in the favourites.

I can’t say I’m over impressed by the list which is not much different from the last time I posted on this , except the sports themes have dropped off the list and I’m surprised Robbie Williams “Angels” isn’t still on the list.

I think the songs show a distinct lack of imagination. What about Stairway to Heaven or Knocking on Heaven’s door? Endless Sleep or Back to Black?

Or songs that actually meant something to people not songs other people thought they should have. Where are the Stones or Beatles songs for example.

The funeral service is also keen to point out that it’s not only music that can be personalised but also caskets, hearses and memorials. The mind boggles.




Top songs for that final farewell

tombstone_message_11293After a decade Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” has been knocked off the top spot for music requested of funeral directors. It always seemed an odd choice to me as if the recently departed had some choices.

Anyway the top spot has been replaced by “Always look on the bright side of life”. This was the song from Monty Python’s Life of Brian and a jaunty reflection of life and death.

The Top 10 funeral songs in the UK now according to the Cooperative Funeral Service are:

1  Always look on the bright side of life from Monty Python’s Life of Brian

2  The Lord is my Shepherd. Psalm 23 Crimond

3  Abide with me

4  Match of the Day theme

5  My Way by Frank Sinatra

6  All things bright and beautiful

7  Angels by Robbie Williams

8  Enigma Variations Nimrod by Elgar

9  You’ll never walk alone by Gerry & the Pacemakers

10 Soul LimboBooker T & the MGs Test match special theme

figures_carrying_casket_1600_wht_13761I don’t know at what point in the service these requests are played. I’m guessing at the end when the coffin is disposed of behind the curtains. If you could choose your music what would it be?  How about “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother” for when they carry the coffin in?

The Daily Telegraph has produced a list of the top 30 songs most played at funerals and it includes Eric Clapton’ s “Tears in Heaven”, Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, Vera Lynn’s “We’ll meet again”, “Ding Dong the witch is dead” from The Wizard of Oz, Pink Floyd’s “Wish you were here”, and Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”.

I think it’s the song title and the tune that does it, not the actual words some of which seem highly irrelevant if not irreverent.