Jennifer Nobles: Musical matters
You can learn a lot about a person by asking them the simple question, “What’s your favorite song?”
You can learn even more about them by inquiring, “What is your least favorite song?”
A few years ago I set out to do some unofficial research, asking friends, family and colleagues alike which song they would choose to never hear again.
I was looking for something specific. It’s easy enough to answer that question with the latest tune of the week, the one you can’t get out of your head no matter how you try. It’s just as easy to choose an artist you don’t care for and name his or her big hit.
I was interested in knowing which popular song — that is, one that has made an impression on pop culture as we know it — had people scrambling to tweak the radio dial. I quickly set about my informal poll.
My brother apparently has a severe dislike for the song “Tom’s Diner,” the 1990s hit by Suzanne Vega. My mom? She doesn’t care for David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” (don’t @ me) while my best friend Amy hates the disco classic “The Hustle.” A colleague once told me he despises any song by Rod Stewart (an opinion which I can’t understand no matter how hard I try).
The funny thing is that every person to whom I proposed the question would quickly fire back: “What’s your least favorite song?”
I was caught a little off-guard. I didn’t expect the same line of questioning and quite frankly I wasn’t prepared to answer.
Until one day when I was in a Portland lounge enjoying a cocktail with a friend. That’s when “Benny and the Jets” by Elton John came on over the jukebox.
“Oh man, I hate this song!” I exclaimed without thinking.
“You hate Elton John?” asked my bewildered companion.
I don’t hate Elton John. Far from it. A mere 15 seconds of “Candle in the Wind” and I am a blubbering mess. “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” is an undeniable classic. I just can’t stand “Benny and the Jets.” So sue me. (Full disclosure: I’m not wild about “Crocodile Rock” either.)
Sometimes good artists make bad music, just as sometimes bad artists record an ear worm that eventually wiggles its way into your musical vernacular. Our relationship with music can be a perplexing thing, of that be sure. Our musical taste is like a fingerprint, unique to each of us.
So, what’s your least favorite song? I promise, the next time you are in a social gathering, ask your friends the same question. The results can be hilarious, and it is a fantastic way to learn something about someone you think you know.
Just don’t hold me accountable if you don’t like their answers.
(P.S. Bonus points for anyone who can cite the inspiration of this article’s title.)
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