Saturday, 7 May 2016

What your musical tastes say about your personality

A recent item on BBC Breakfast looked at how our tastes in music reflect our personality. The guest, who was promoting his book, had asked the four presenters (two on the sofa, the weather and the business) to make a list of their top 10 favourite tracks. He then commented on their personalities, based on the songs chosen, without knowing who had given which list. The presenters didn't seem unhappy about it.

Now, it may just be me, but I would have thought that one's taste in music must obviously reflect one's personality to some extent, so the initial premise was not of much interest to me. The harder thing to contemplate was my top 10 favourite tracks. So much depends on my mood! However, I've given it some thought, and I present, in no particular order and sometimes with illuminating comment, my current top 10 (ask me again when it's cold and pouring with rain and the list will probably be different)....

1. Eurythmics - Right By Your Side. Upbeat song, almost impossible not to sing along with it, and the steel drum instrumentation just brings in a warm Caribbean feeling as well.

2. Pharrell Williams - Happy. Daft lyrics, but almost contagious upbeat rhythm; waiting at traffic lights, I'm pretty certain adjacent drivers have wondered what on earth I'm doing as I clap and click along with it in addition to the singing. Sedentary dancing almost (and you all know I don't dance).

3. Peter Gabriel - Signal to Noise. The first part, with the lyrics, is fairly unremarkable, but once the instrumental starts, with the strings gradually getting higher, the volume needs to be turned up full so that the sound can completely envelop you. Just fabulous!

4. Arvo Part - Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten. This is grief in an audible form, physically heart-wrenching. The funereal bell, the slow cascading strings, this is another one for full volume, though possibly not appropriate party music....

5. Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody. The first Queen song I got to know was 'Killer Queen', which I also love, but this one has great lyrics *and* some musical complexity. 

6. Genesis - Mad Man Moon. It was around when I discovered this song that I realised that for me, good lyrics were important as well as good music. 

7. Durufle - Agnus Dei. This was first time I had come across a really good alto solo line in a requiem, so much so that I've already told people I want it playing at my funeral. Planning ahead, folks!

8. Stephen Schwarz - For Good. This duet from Wicked is not only a beautiful song, but has achieved a personal resonance for me, listening to it on the way back from the funeral of an old friend and hearing the lyric "you'll be with me, like a handprint on my heart." I've got past the tears now, but I think of him every time I hear the song still, with one of those good pains.

9. Fats Waller (and others) - Ain't Misbehavin'. Another song with personal resonance, I surprise- serenaded Rod at our renewal of vows with this song, complete with harp accompaniment (kudos to the harpist, all those accidentals were a pain for her!). He's away again at the moment, so check out those lyrics, dear: No one to talk with, all by myself, No one to walk with, I'm happy on the shelf, Ain't misbehavin', savin' my love for you. (I'm not including the cats in this.)

10. David Bowie - Life on Mars. Nearly anything by David Bowie would make the list, and some days I could easily compile a list entirely of David Bowie, but today, I'm picking this one. 

So that's the current list. What does that say about my personality, I wonder. Probably that I should be on medication, but maybe tomorrow's list would be ok.... 

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