Sunday, June 28, 2009

There might be a reason that singles are chosen as singles.

Tim Mason once asked me an interesting question along these lines (I am paraphrasing because I don't recall the exact question):
Do singles tend to be people's favorite songs off an album because they're the best songs, or because they're popular (since they are the singles)?

While we pondered this, one approach we took was to consider the experience of discovering a new band. When this happens, I tend to latch on to a song or two that become immediate favorites. These are the songs that I look forward to, and perhaps repeat, while listening to the album. These usually end up being my favorites even after I have become fully familiar with the album (though that is not always the case). We wondered how often these favorite songs, end up having been released as singles (unbeknown to us). A hidden assumption here is that we didn't discover the band as a result of hearing the single, as this would increase the chances of a correlation.

I guess the point of this post is to point out a recent correlation. I have been downright obsessed with the song "My Girls" by Animal Collective (whom I recently discovered) for the last couple of months. It turns out that it is the first single off their most recent album, Merriweather Post Pavilion. Reviews of the album (their 8th) suggest that it is their most accessible to date. I would agree after going back and listening to a few of the earlier ones. I still wouldn't have expected to hear them on the radio since their sound is definitely not mainstream (though I never listen to radio). I was pleasantly surprised when I heard this song on the radio last weekend while visiting in KC. Since then I looked up some info on the band and found out, in addition to the singles, that the album has done fairly well on the U.S. charts (peaking at #13). I will say, though, that the second single, "Summertime Clothes", from the album is not my other favorite - that distinction goes to "Brother Sport".

So is there any real conclusion from this? I guess not. Perhaps I should commission a study to see how often this actually occurs in my music experience...

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