First impressions

A friend of mine just recommended me some music. Solo stuff by the singer from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, who’s name is Alec Ounsworth (had no idea about either his name or solo stuff until just now). I clicked my friend’s link and Spotify started playing a song called What Fun. But this post won’t be about Alec’s music. While listening to the song, and checking his Spotify discography, I queued a few more tracks from his album and that’s when this thought hit me: when it comes to bands/artists I’ve never heard before, my mind has a special system that decides what songs I’ll listen to first. And that system obviously decides what first impressions I will get.

I don’t know if you’re following me here, at all. Maybe it sounds confusing. I’ll try to explain. If I find out about a band, and I’ve decided to check out their music, here’s how I decide what songs to begin with:

1) Choose one of the top three songs from the band’s page. Because those songs probably represent the band’s overall sound.

2) Choose either the opening track or the closer. Because I think it’s quite interesting to see what songs a musicians decides to open/close their record with. Both of those tracks have usually been put there for a good reason.

3) Choose the song with the best name. I like reading track listings, and quite a few bands out there have interesting names for their songs. So I basically choose one that I like a lot, and listen to that song.

4) Choose a song that is recommended by a friend. Because if someone else likes it, that’s a pretty good sign it might just be a nice song.

These four options never fail me. Never. I don’t even do it purpose; I do it subconsciously. I could see it clearly just now that my friend recommended me Alec’s music. My first impression of the guy was a mix between three of the four options. Here’s what I did: 1) Listened to the song recommended by my friend. Wanted to hear something more in order to get a grasp of Alec’s music, so I 2) decided to listen to the closing track, and then went on with the opener just because I felt like it. Then I checked the track listing and I 3) decided to listen to the track Idiots in the Rain because I really liked that title. I did all this without even thinking about it. It went automatically.

First impressions are important when it comes to music, and I clearly have a system that helps me with those. How I’ve developed this system, I have no idea. But it feels good. Even better that I do it automatically, because then I don’t have to put a lot of effort in thinking about what tracks to hear first.

Well, I just thought this was kind of interesting, now that I thought about it. If you have your system when it comes to musicians you’ve never listened to before, please tell me. Or maybe people just pick a random track? What do I know.


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