I have spent (some say wasted) numerous hours of my life contemplating my favorite all-time songs. I don’t know why. I’ve leafed through old CD albums, scoured my iTunes, racked my brain thinking of faves from yesteryear, consulted friends and agonized for hours on end to rank and refine. There is no reason for this. No one cares.
Here is the real problem with ranking songs: there is no way to empirically know what song I enjoy the most. Is it the one I never get sick of no matter how many times I hear it? The one that most affects my emotions, the one that makes me happiest? I suspect this answer is is somewhere in between, and different for everyone.
More than anything, most of us likely choose our favorite songs because they represent us in some way. (And by “us,” I mean the eight or so other people who care about silly things like this.) I love Motown, therefore a Motown song must be featured in my top 5. That kind of thing.
Somewhere along the line, I decided the only way we would ever truly know what song is our favorite is when, in the future, doctors invent a device to implant in our brains that tracks seratonin release. This is one of my favorite not-yet-created inventions: it will scientifically measure what makes you the happiest. You claim that “Positively 4th Street” is your favorite? Your happiness meter disagrees. The song you enjoy more than any other is “Safety Dance.” Sorry, those are the facts.
While I wait patiently for this device to come to fruition, the next best objective analysis device is probably the iTunes “play count.” I had never thought about that, but a recent article in Esquire lays out the argument quite nicely:
iTunes has led to the death of many things, but mostly it’s made it impossible for us to lie about our love anymore. The truth is compiled and quantified in rows of rigid white boxes: No matter what T-shirts we wear or what concerts we go to, our play counts will betray even our most secret affections. Our top-five songs are no longer up for boozy debate shouted over jukeboxes. They’re digital fact. Heart has nothing to do with it anymore.
Tough to argue with that. I immediately opened up the application to check the results and…well, it’s safe to say I was shocked. A little dismayed. Only two of my current top 50 songs cracks the top 10 of most-played jams.
Which of course doesn’t mean everything — I can still love a song even if I don’t listen to it often — but it surely must mean something, right?
Either way, it’s a fun exercise. In the interest of full disclosure, I have listed my top 10 Play Count tracks below. I encourage you to list yours in the comments. Don’t worry; this is a judgment-free zone.
Let’s do this, people. It’s confession time.
1. “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down” – Fall Out Boy
2. “L.E.S. Artistes” – Santogold
3. “Furr” – Blitzen Trapper
4. “Slow Night So Long” – Kings of Leon
5. “Paper Planes” – M.I.A.
6. “Skinny Love” – Bon Iver
7. “Kids” – MGMT
8. “That’s Not My Name” – The Ting Tings
9. “Read My Mind” – The Killers
10. “We Don’t Care” – Kanye West