Here’s how it works for me. I buy a new album, plop it into my mp3 player and start listening. The first time through is nothing more than curiosity. I listen without judgment or feeling. I feel like a juror listening to the defense attorney trying to list all the reasons why this song shouldn’t end up in my dead-song list.
By the time the first listen through the entire album is finished, the jury is usually still out. I may like the album or a few of the songs may have caught my attention, but I haven’t yet made up my mind.
I’ve purchased hundreds of albums over the years, and, actually, there are only a handful of albums or artists which continue to draw me back to them after many years have past. Most of the songs I have are stuck in my playlist graveyard. Occasionally I’ll put my whole collection on play random and will be surprised that a few song gems had escaped me once upon a time.
But with new albums, I have found, over and over, that there is a seminal moment when it finally hits me, “Wow, that’s a catchy tune. I want to hear that again.” I’ll press repeat and listen a couple more times. Suddenly, that unknown song has just dramatically become “cool” in my eyes, and I can’t get enough.
If there is a song or two on an album which grab me that way, I’ll let that album play all the time until I really learn the songs well and it becomes a natural part of my media experience.
Why does a song become “cool”? I don’t know. It might be a phrase, a beat, a guitar riff, a combination of cool rhythm or unexpected message which just makes me attracted to it. My most recent example of the “cool” song moment is from Steve Taylor and the Perfect Foil’s album “Goliath.” The song which made me turn my neck was appropriately titled “Rubberneck” – a fun, upbeat tune lampooning the social media age we are in. In fact, this entire album is truly amazing, with Taylor’s normal wit and vigor, married perfectly with an extremely talented veteran band, it’s an album which is way too good and way too cool for the top 40 stations.
I love it when I have one of those “aha” moments, because I know that I have found a new album which I will love for years to come.