Thursday, May 17, 2012

Happiness is...a musical challenge.

I was perusing NPR the other day and came across a fun segment on All Songs Considered.  Throughout the course of the summer they are going to be posting several albums each week that readers/listeners can vote on in an effort to find the top 10 universal albums of all time; albums that cross audience lines, that most everyone can appreciate and agree on. It is an interesting idea and one that has kept me thinking, what (and we'll simplify it to maybe songs or artists) do I listen to that is generally accepted by the masses?  I have some strangely eclectic tastes and when I roadtrip and it's my turn to put on the ipod invariably I'm the one with the weird stuff that tends to get fast forwarded through. On the other hand, I cover so many genres and eras that I can always find something for each person, even if it's just one song.

I love going to concerts because you can literally see who shares your tastes and interests.  A few I've gone to have illustrated this idea well with people old enough to be my grandparents, my parents, or young enough to be my kids. And within my own age range there have been various high school stereotype groups represented...the skaters, the preps, the rockers, the stoners, all inexplicably singing along to the same music.  James Taylor was like this, as was Simon and Garfunkel and Billy Joel, even the Avett Brothers the other day had a good mix of old and young, surviving hippies and buttoned-up accountants all jamming with the band.

Another gauge I use is my mom.  I love to make mix tapes for her, trying to expose her to new things because you never know what she's going to latch on to.  She's primarily a fan of mellow stuff (Josh Groban, The Carpenters), things from her youth (The Beatles, The Monkees) but mostly jazz (Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme), standards (Michael Buble, Tony Bennett), and classical. My sister and I have inundated her with a variety of things that she has patiently endured but never listened to again. I know if I can find something she'll choose to listen to when neither of us are there, and even sing along with, that I've found a winner.  Some surprises have included Thriller, Queen, Barenaked Ladies, Diamond Rio, Garth Brooks and even a few bluegrass tunes!

So, I put the question out to you, my faithfully devoted readers (I know there's a few of you out there!)  What songs, albums, artists would get your vote? What are the quintessential 'everyman' songs, the ones that come on and the whole room starts tapping their feet or singing along to?  Leave suggestions in the comments and let's see if we can give NPR a run for it's money! ;)

Here are a few of my votes to get you started.

Agree? Disagree? Well, go forth and hit me with your best shot.  Consider the gauntlet thrown!

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