Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Power of the Pop Song

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I watched the movie Music and Lyrics again recently, and I was struck by a line that Hugh Grant says to Drew Barrymore’s character. They’re discussing the importance of books versus songs and he argues, 

"You can take all the novels in the world, and not one of them will make you feel as good as fast as "I've got sunshine on a cloudy day. When it's cold outside, I've got the month of May." That is real poetry." (Sound clip here.)

After mulling over his claim about the joy rendered by “My Girl,” I listened to it. I don’t often listen to The Temptations or ‘60s Motown music, as evidenced by the song's mere 2 (now 3) plays in my iTunes library. Still, I can’t argue with him- the song does make me smile.

The whole thing reminded me of this interesting website, Emotional Bag Check, which is hard to explain but basically combines the powers of PostSecret and music-sharing. It allows users to anonymously “leave baggage” or read someone else’s confession; then the one person who reads the post (anonymously) sends the writer a link to a song to help them through the pain. More than once, I’ve spent at least an hour or two at a time reading other people’s emotional baggage and responding with songs that I deem appropriate for their respective situations.

What songs do I pick? Well, I’ll be the first to admit- I’m no music expert like Mari, with her acid jazz and electronica, or Dactyl and her passion for all things pop, from 90s boy bands to whatever genre is Josh Groban's. (Easy listening? Adult contemporary?)

Even so, I have quite the arsenal of pick-me-up songs. To the heartbroken I send “Blue Skies,” by Noah and the Whale, because it’s a “song for anyone with a broken heart.” For those sick of waiting around for love, I send “Haven’t Met You Yet,” by Michael Buble, which I think is a slightly classier version of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.” To those with nerves, I send “Something Good Can Work,” an incredibly fun and upbeat song by Two Door Cinema Club. (I’ve never seen the music video for it before so ignore the fact that those boys all have ridiculous emo hair.) For those in utter despair, I send “The Heart of Life,” by John Mayer, preferably the calming live version. And for other, wackier situations, I choose accordingly.

If you try out the site and get any of these songs, you’ve probably found me out. But I’m not ashamed to admit that I like to send out these songs, perhaps with a word of comfort or two. It makes me feel like a closet saint, spreading joy in this way. And it’s not even hard work- I just let the music do all the talking.

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