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I’m sure that there are quite a few of us walking around these days that find ourselves either singing along to, or randomly singing the lyrics of several popular songs on the radio -songs that upon our first listen we probably didn’t even particularly enjoy. Songs such as Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’, Katy Perry’s ‘This Is How We Do,’ or Drake’s ‘0 to 100’ are three of the most commonly played radio hits right now in the city of Toronto -and I’m sure across most of North America.

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It’s not to say that this music is bad, we all have our own tastes (heck even I’ll admit to having a couple of tracks from each of the artists I’ve listed above in my iTunes). Many of us I’m sure genuinely enjoy these artists and the songs that they create, but why is it that even when we don’t particularly enjoy a song we still find ourselves singing along to it? Why do so many of us that initially hate a song, eventually find ourselves enjoying it, so much so that we actually get excited and turn up the volume when it comes on the radio?

The awesome people at TED-Ed have sought to answer these questions scientifically, and do so effectively through this very short, but informative video. The lesson is taught by Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis, the author of ‘On Repeat: How Music Plays The Mind,’ check it out:

Stand By Your Intuition

One of the best possible solutions to this form of mental programming is take note of your intuitive feelings towards a song when you first hear it. If you thought that Nicki Minaj’s ‘Anaconda’ was not your cup of tea the first time you heard it but you now enjoy it, the chances are that you’ve fallen victim to repetition or the mere exposure effect. It’s not that growing to like a song is a terrible experience, it’s just good to be aware of how you came to like something and it can be a great tool in deciding whether or not the song is truly for you.

Take Note Of How The Music Makes You Feel

Another great tool in deciding whether a song you have grown to like is worth keeping in your music library is to truly examine how listening to the song makes you feel. We all experience music differently, but I will illustrate this through an example of my own life. Four songs that I grew to like and was first exposed to through the radio are:

  1. Chromeo – Jealous
  2. Katy Perry feat. Juicy J – Dark Horse
  3. Maroon 5 – Maps
  4. Drake feat. 2 Chainz & Big Sean – All Me

For weeks I would happily listen to any and all of these songs at any given opportunity, often singing along. It wasn’t until several weeks later, when the songs had started to lose their exciting freshness, that I decided to take note of both how these songs tended to make me feel and when I predominantly chose to listen to them. Both #1 and #3 I would listen to when in a good mood, while #2 or #4 I would listen to when in a down mood or often when at the gym seeking some ego-based motivation. It’s not to say that these songs would be the same in your own experience of them, I just encourage you to apply the same analysis, you might be surprised at some of the tendencies that you have.

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