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Being a huge fan of ‘How I met Your Mother’ and in particular Barney Stinson’s seemingly never ending list of rules, guidelines and theories to live life to its most awesome form I decided it was high time that I knuckle down and come up with a theory of my own to do with music; and I found the answer in a recent car journey.
It always amazes me how our response to music can change so dramatically and so quickly. I often feel rather fickle skipping 20 songs in a row on my own playlist knowing full well that the very week before they were my absolute jams. For me, this is about how music suits our needs in a certain time, ranging from simply our mood in the precise moment to the larger spectrum of our overall happiness. Sometimes we really need a power ballad, sometimes we really feel that classic dance tune, or sometimes we just get plain bored of songs that we have previously enjoyed, it’s that simple as to whether we sing or skip a song on a particular day. I've heard new songs and been infatuated with them, adding them to my playlist and listening on repeat for a week or so before they fall into a clutter of the hundreds of songs that see the next button before the vocal has even made its way out of my speakers.
This sounds like a negative when you put it like that, how we can simply fall out of love with music as quickly as we fell in love with it. The fact that songs can be picked up and dropped so quickly and easily almost feels like an insult to the time, effort and often emotions that went into their production. However, following my new Stinson based philosophy I am choosing to view it as a positive. Yes, our opinions of songs change but that’s what keeps things interesting; imagine if our taste stagnated and we only ever listened to the same small collection of songs all the time? The moment that encapsulates this for me was a couple of months ago in the car when my girlfriend had been given DJ responsibilities (it's rare I give these up as the driver but it does sometimes happen). She put on Miley Cyrus' Malibu, a song which came out a couple of years ago and that at the time I was totally indifferent about. I'd heard it a few times, thought nothing of it and moved on. It never crossed my mind and to be honest I’d forgotten it existed. However, the song that I heard in the car that day felt totally different. Every hook, every melody, the vocal, the lyrics it all just felt perfect. I repeated it three times on that journey and enjoyed it more with every listen. I suddenly fell in love with this song as if I'd heard it for the first time. It seemed entirely strange to me that something I'd glazed over in the past was my favourite song of the moment. How come I didn't care for it before but completely love it now?
This moment has really got me thinking recently. My playlist on Spotify consists of over 1000 songs that I call my favourites. I hear a song I like and I add it to the playlist. The issue with this is that I put it on shuffle and spend most of my car journeys skipping songs until something comes on I vibe with that day. In the past I've been on entire journeys where I've never managed to settle on a song.
So, there are two things that I have taken from this to move forward, and thus, here follows my new ‘Malibu Theory’ (patent pending).
Make concise playlists to suit your needs. Instead of my bad habit of just throwing every song together the best thing to do would be to make short playlists that vibe with you on certain days. Make one of songs you know keep you relaxed, cathartic songs that help with you when you're upset, songs that give you a pick me up when you need it. This way, when you know what you're after you can just go to that playlist with the confidence that you'll enjoy most if not all of the songs on there. And for those times we discover a song and listen to it constantly before dropping it, make a fickle new song playlist where you add all the tunes that have recently been brought to your attention and remove them the moment you find yourself skipping over them. Keep it refreshed and up to date and you'll have that playlist of songs you just can't get enough of right now.
The second thing is that Barney Stinson is wrong. Despite using the character as an influence to coin my own theory I do disagree with one of his. Barney famously said ‘new is always better’ but I don’t think that is the case and my Malibu experience proves that. We’ve all had times where we are looking for something to spice up our listening habits; we keep an eye on the new releases but nothing really sits well with us. Well, why not look back? I never really considered this until my experience where I fell in love with a song I had completely forgotten about; it just proved to me how dramatically our opinions can change. So, why not have a look through the charts from a few years back and have a listen, see if there is anything you missed at the time that now fits perfectly into your listening needs? I’m not suggesting that you will now love every song you’ve hated in the past but it is natural that the place we are in changes over time. We have new perspectives, feelings and experiences that might just resonate with something that never seemed relevant before.
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