Here’s a question that has been on everybody’s mind lately: Are we human, or are we dancers?
To settle the debate once and for all, I will definitively answer the question with a question. Here goes: Is it humanly possible to listen to the song, “Love Shack,” by the B-52’s, without dancing?
It is humanly not possible to listen to the song “Love Shack,” by the B-52’s, without dancing. So that settles it. We are dancers.
Moving rabidly along, let’s extend this argument. Is it humanly possible to hear the song, “Gives You Hell,” and not think of someone you dislike?
Again, not a chance. So, what does this tell us?
This tells us that we are primitively affected by the music we listen to. Some songs make us feel good. Other songs encourage us to marinate in our self-pity, or our anger, or our sorrow, until we become shriveled prunes of pity juice.
Don’t believe me? Studies show that country music is a contributing factor in suicide attempts. (The studies examined people who electively listened to country music. You may have been thinking that the suicide attempts were cries for help by spouses of country music listeners, but that was not the case.)
Studies also show that people who listen to hip-hop are more likely to get an STD.
And maybe you’ve heard the conspiracy theory about Led Zeppelin, and the subliminal messages in “Stairway to Heaven”? When I listen closely, I cannot say with absolute certainty that Led Zeppelin did not sneak in a couple satanic messages. (Listen here, at 2 minutes 16 seconds.)
Some organizations, such as InnerTalk, use subliminal messages in a positive way. They sell CD’s with subliminal motivational messages. This might be a good idea, but I am not trying it, mostly because I do not trust people who want to hypnotize me.
But screw the studies, and screw the subliminal messages. A study is irrelevant anyway, since music impacts everybody differently.
Here’s a reliable, two-step test to predict how a certain type of music will make you feel: 1) Turn on music. 2) Ask self, “how does this make me feel?”
It is important that we distinguish the good technique, above, from a bad one. Here’s a bad test for determining which music to listen to: 1) Turn on music. 2) Ask self, “do I like this music?”
“Gives You Hell” is one of my favorite songs right now. It makes me dance. But I think that’s awful–to wish someone hell. I’ve tried to sing louder than the radio, saying “when you see my face, know I wish you well, know I wish you well,” but, quite frankly, that really F’s up the song. Now I just change the station.
So, do you want to be happy? Or do you want to be a shriveled prune of pity juice? Assuming you pick the former, I recommend that you surround yourself with positive music, positive people, positive energy. Because positivity leeches from one person to another. So does negativity.
- Simply the Best – Tina Turner
- Late in the Evening – Paul Simon
- Escapade – Janet Jackson
- What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
- Dancing in the Street – Martha & the Vandellas
- Back in Black – AC/DC
- Forever Young – Rod Stewart
- Sweet Child of Mine – Guns N’ Roses
- Glory Days – Bruce Springstein
- Eye of the Tiger – Survivor
- Don’t Worry By Happy – Bobby McFerrin
- Sweet Escape – Gwen Stefani/Akon
- Brass in Pocket – The Pretenders
- Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes – Paul Simon (In 1993, I nominated that as my Favorite Song Ever. It’s still living up to its superlative.)
- Hakuna Matata – Disney’s “Lion King”
- Money for Nothing – Dire Straits
- I’m Yours – Jason Mraz
- Bubbly – Colbie Caillat
- Pocketful of Sunshine -Natasha Bedingfield
- Beautiful Day – U2
- Over the Rainbow – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
- Suddenly I See – KT Tunstall
- Lucky – Jason Mraz
- [If you are married and you still like your wedding song, add it to this list.]
- [Think of songs that bring you back to happy moments in your past. For me, the Bangles, the Pretenders, Robert Cray, Mariah Carey, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Tina Turner are time machine rides to family dance contests in my parents’ living room circa 1991.]
If you’re having a particularly difficult day, put on one of these songs, turn it up so loud that you can’t hear your own thoughts (remember ear muffs for any tiny humans dancers in the vicinity), and force yourself to do some enthusiastic soul-dancing around your house, a la Tom Cruise in Risky Business.
I hope this happiness series has been helpful. As for me, I’m about to “get it poppin in here” with the hoppin beats of “Hakuna Matata.” (What a wonderful phrase!) It will make me dance, and it will make me happy, even if Disney does want me to take off my clothes.
Which songs would you add to this list?
My favorite part about blogging is hearing from my readers! I love your reflections and your suggestions. 🙂