The People's Choice Music: The Most Wanted & Unwanted Songs

Komar & Melamid is an artistic group who set forth a goal of creating the most and least desirable music. With the aid of composer Dave Soldier and a survey of approximately 500 individuals, that's exactly what they did. These pieces were created in 1995 but I still find them sociologically fascinating.

Let's start with the "Most Unwanted Song"

This is a 22 minute long piece which seems incredibly random in nature. They included instruments such as bagpipes, harps, a tuba, banjo and other instruments they found in their survey to be the least desirable / most hated.

The song is segmented into seemingly numberless minute to two minute sections each including elements that causes a very uncomfortable chill to go up one's spine; much like fingernails on a chalkboard. They constructed these sections to seem completely random and awkward and this very act creates an entire other level of mind-numbingly repetitive monotonousness.

This could almost pass as a funny song with, among other asinine things, the inclusion of an Operatic rapper, children yelling political terms, slogans, names, brand names, random words and the hook that keeps coming up every few minutes, "Do all your shopping at Wal-Mart!" But of course this is all on the basis people hate to hear kids in songs, especially as a marketing ploy or for political gain. Yeah, I agree.

The Opera rapper singing 'how great it is out on the range' reminds me of Klaus Nomi. I honestly can expect to see this rapping style hit the mainstream in the not-to-distant-future.

These guys did a pretty damn good job making a song that's terrifying to listen too. I feel however, they missed a few things:

  1. They didn't address out-of-tune instruments. That may be the main reason people hate bagpipes and banjos; they're instruments that naturally sound sharp.
  2. There was no unnecessarily vulgar lyrics which we find in many examples I've given on this website.
  3. Outside of the kids singing, they didn't seem to really cover bad singing. On top of that, I would hope if they did this study today, they would splatter auto-tune all over the song.

Now, the "Most Wanted Song"

This one I find quite amazing. How can it be possible the song they feel is most desirable I can't stand the most? Komar & Melamid stated that, "fewer than 200 individuals of the world's total population would enjoy" the most unwanted song. I would like to see how they came up with that math. The math they used for the most wanted song is even more unusual. They stated that, "even to the point of sensory overload and stylistic discohesion, will result in a musical work that will be unavoidably and uncontrollably 'liked' by 72 plus or minus 12% (standard deviation; Kolmogorov-Smirnov statistic) of listeners." I presume the psychologically forced will be the lion share of that "liked" group. And on top of that, I feel at least 25% of the population hold the stance, "As long as it doesn't cause me to sh-t myself, I like it."

The problem I have with this piece is it is ungodly generic. Plus I remember growing up in the 90's when Kenny G was most popular. Today I still find the alto sax physically painful to listen too. But the alto sax in this piece is only the start. You honestly want me to believe the most wanted song is a contemporary, dopey love song with a simplistic beat, overly powered alto sax, extremely repetitive lyrical hook, a cheesy crying electric guitar solo and a decade-setting synth keyboard? Where did they collect this survey? Outside a Color Me Badd concert?

Nonetheless I can see a clear conclusion with this study: Generally speaking, the largest segment of society wants music that doesn't require any thought. As many people would put it, "All I need is a good beat". So, when you see someone walking down the street with an iPod, chances are as soon as those earbuds go in, that brain shuts off. Am I wrong? You honestly never accidentally ran into someone blindly crossing the street while listening to Eminem's newest hit featuring Rihanna? Well, maybe you're the moron who nearly rear-ended me while blasting Drake featuring Lil Wayne in your speaker box on wheels! No, you don't have to agree with me but I am correct.