Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A pointless challenge to pass some time? Why not!

If there's one thing I share with the redoubtable and - let's be honest - mental Japanese folk who take part in the gloriously strange Takeshi's Castle, it is a relentless and sad need to set myself challenges which will, ultimately, neither prove nor disprove anything. Challenges which, really, just make me feel better for having taken them on. So to that end...

Recently I have been, at long last, putting all my albums on to my itunes (other fine desktop music players are available, folks!). I'm currently about halfway, on the cusp of L and M, but lets not discuss alphabetisation methods now, huh?

The upshot has been that I've been faced with a lot of music that I had forgotten, disregarded or just plain ignored. After all the recent talk of itunes totals, shuffle and so on, I got to thinking - how many of my songs do I really know really well? Well enough, that is, to be able to name that tune in, say, 10 seconds.

So here's the challenge (and 'Spillers honour really must apply) - I'm going to turn on itunes. I'm going to enable shuffle. I'm going to press play. I will play ten seconds of ten songs and see how many artists (1 point) and song titles (1 point) I can get out of those ten, without taking any sneaky peeks. It might be fun, it might be really rubbish, but I've thought of it now, so I have to try.

My answers will appear in a comment, below, in a bit. Ta.


snadfrod said...

Ok, so it was harder than I thought. I had one go, did (I think) ok, then looked in my 'recently played' and saw it doesn't register songs after only 10 seconds or so. Natch. Anyway, second time round I had to keep pausing songs and then looking at the answer when my time was up. This is not a precise quiz and requires astonishing self-regulation, but hey...

Anyhoo. I scored 10 out of 20, which I think will actually turn out to be ok. The 10 were:

1. Ocean Rain, Echo and The Bunnymen (easy first one, got both)

2. Fixed Income, DJ Shadow (scored for Shadow, not a clue about the name)

3. Call Me, Aretha Franklin (not a scooby, sadly)

4. Last Year's Man, Leonard Cohen (two point score! Not least because you can't really mistake his voice and he says the title almost immediately...)

5. Assessment, Beta Band (My Emlyn Hughes moment - it was on the tip of my tongue, but I just couldn't get it)

6. Little Girl Blue, Afghan Whigs (eek, a b-side, nul points)

7. Rock'n'roll With Me, Bowie (got the artist, don't know Diamond Dogs well enough, though)

8. Do You Realise?, Flaming Lips (Snadfrod's equivalent of a free hit - two points)

9. Whistlin' Down The Wind, David Holmes and The Free Association (nowt scored, but if the vocal had kicked in earlier I would have got artist at least...)

10. 15, Rilo Kiley (a safe two points to finish with, on possibly the jauntiest song about borderline paedophilia ever made)

So that's my attempt. I think that's a pretty good benchmark. And I have been as honest as possible. I promise.

Anyone else?

ejaydee said...

What you could do is instead of looking in your Recently Played, you could look in your 'recently skipped', since it counts a song as skipped if you skip it before 30 seconds.

snadfrod said...

I don't have a recently skipped! Can't find it anywhere. Any idea how to get it? Now I want to know how I did first time around...

ejaydee said...

It came in the later versions of iTunes. You can create a smart playlist with last skipped as a criteria, or, if you right-click on the bar where the columns are, all the available categories should appear. I think it's called Last skipped, not recently. This is all based on the assumption that PC iTunes is more or less the same as Mac.

steenbeck said...

Oooh, fun Snadfrod. I'm away from home, but I'll try it tommorrow.

snadfrod said...

Brilliant! Cheers ejay, the right click worked. I can now reveal, for the record, that first time round I also got 10 out of 20. I was saved by Ben Folds and The Delgados but did, troublingly, write "Bowie?" for what turns out to have been Colony by Joy Division. Call myself a Manc?...

ToffeeBoy said...

Great challenge snadfrod - I'm sitting out on the patio, watching the sun setting on a beautiful Hertfordshire evening, reading the 'Spill on the laptop and, in true ToffeeBoy fashion, supping a cold ginger beer or two, having recently returned from playing worryingly bad pop music to a bunch of five, six and seven year olds - yes, it was infant disco night!

So I just popped in to get the iPod, set it to shuffle, played ten seconds of each of the first ten tracks and, I have to say, I didn't do too well. 7 1/2 out of 10. I won't bore you with the details but the only three I got fully right, were Strawberry Fields, Surfin Safari (now there's a gimme!) and Little Italy by Stephen Bishop (well, I like it, so there!). I also got REM for one track but couldn't get the title (Daysleeper) and I gave myself half a point for Robert Wyatt when it was actually Matching Mole (tomato/tomato). Two of the tracks I'd never heard of and was surprised to see that I had them (one was from a Q sampler CD - David Byrne's Dance of Vaseline!)

Nice idea snadfrod - I'll go to the bottom of the class.

ToffeeBoy said...

That should of course be 7 1/2 out of 20.

glasshalfempty said...

I didn't need much persuading that I don't know my iPod contents well enough. Early in my exposure to RR, I soon learnt not to go off downloading recommended songs without checking my collection first, after a spate of getting tracks I already had!

My lack of familiarity with what I've got was totally confirmed by the Snadfrod Test. If you count artist and title as 2 points, then the max for 10 songs is 20, yeah? I got 4! I got both halves of the Beatles' Hippy Hippy Shake, and recognised Glenn Miller and Steelasophical, but couldn't guess the titles (Fools rush in; Lorraine). I thought 'Ice in the sun' by Quo was a Move song. And I hadn't a clue about 'Come see me' (Pretty Things), 'You got to serve someone' (Marianne Faithful), 'Shiver' (Giant Sand), 'Somebody to love (Nelly Furtado), 'Trouble so hard' (Dock Reed, Henry Reed, Vera Hall). And just to prove the point about the randomness of Shuffle, the last complete miss was another Quo song 'Rockin all over the world'.
I would argue the 10 second rule makes it harder (intro quizzes passim), but still a pretty crap result on my part. But on the upside, I went on to enjoy all the tracks (using the handy hint from ejaydee), and have resolved to use shuffle more often.

nilpferd said...

I did try it, and I have a lot of time to waste tomorrow as I'm on the train for about 9 hours, but all I established was:
1. I have a shitload of tracks of which the first 10 seconds is silence;
2. I have so few tracks on my relatively small (4 Gb) player and so few albums in total that it isn't really that hard to identify them all, once they actually begin;
3. I gave up reading the names of tracks a long time ago, so can only really identify artists and albums anyway.
4. I have so many instrumental tracks that No. 3 is more relevant that you thought.

CaroleBristol said...

I just want to say that I don't own an iPod, or any other sort of mp3 player either.

snadfrod said...

@GHE - how could you not get Rockin' All over the World!! Have you never been to Wembley? Its the second song they play afetr every major event, closely following We Are The Champions.

glasshalfempty said...

I was last at Wembley (on a sporting occasion) to see the Dons' 'crazy gang' beat Liverpool for the Cup. But I'm sure you're right, and I hang my head in shame. I knew I knew it, but it wouldn't come. If I'd heard 12 secs (i.e. the start of the vocal) I'd have cracked it. See where honesty gets you...

DarceysDad said...

I read this on the laptop, so tried it with that (1200 songs approx) and scored 7 out of 20. Ashamed not to recognise The Mighty Wah! and particularly Kitchens Of Distinction's One Of Those Sometimes Is Now; will excuse myself missing Cherry Ghost as Roses starts with 11 seconds of drone that has no resemblence to the main song, and will ask TonNL for an umpire's decision for calling Cindy Und Bert's Der Hund Von Baskerville as a cover of Paranoid (currently awarded a zero!).

I like this game: I'll try it with the 20,000 songs on the PC and the three hundred on the mp3 player before bed.

snadfrod said...

And for that, sir, you should be applauded.

I've been sort of playing the game mentally all evening and still average about 50%, which I'm quite pleased with. I accept that it probably does actually make it harder (a fairer quiz might be to allow yourself the first line of vocal/few bars of melody?...) but I think it also brings you face to face with music you have really LOVED and music that you may have glossed over for whatever reason.

And I've already promised myself to have another go at about six albums already. Plus I have absolutely NO IDEA what is playing right now. More exploring...

snadfrod said...

(My applause was actually directed at GHE's honesty, but Dsd can be applauded for his dedication to the game too...)

DarceysDad said...

PC: 11/20, which I call a result.
The Drones - Are You Leaving The Country (x/x)
Absentee - There's A Body In A Car Somewhere (√/x)
2 Tribes - Decade (√/√)
500 Miles To Memphis - The Regret (√/x)
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - Deus Ibi Est (√/√)
Cowboy Junkies - It Really Doesn't Matter Anyway (x/x)
Mtume - Juicy Fruit (√/√)
Drive-By Truckers - Outfit (√/√)
Iron & Wine - Lovesong Of The Buzzard (x/x)
Iron & Wine - The Devil Never Sleeps (√/x), but I'll admit I only got that because Sam Beam's voice had just been singing Lovesong.. whilst I typed this.

mp3 Player: 19/20.
Talk Talk - Inheritance (√/√)
UFO - Only You Can Rock Me (√/√)
Death In Vegas - Dirt (√/√)
Drive-By Truckers - Let There Be Rock (√/√)
AC/DC - Rock & Roll Damnation (√/√)
Alter Bridge - Down To My Last (√/√)
Elbow - Scattered Black & Whites (√/√)
UFO - I'm A Loser - (√/x) Live version, which I misidentified as Out In The Streets from 10secs only.
Steve Earle - Fort Worth Blues (√/√)
Elbow - Grounds For Divorce (√/√)

But that's not THAT spectacular a result when you consider there are just less than 300 songs on there, and only 4 or 5 are complete albums.

I got lucky with my PC; that could easily have been a big fat zero . . . so let's go do it again! Back in a bit -

DarceysDad said...

Yup, that's more like it: 5, maybe 6 out of 20.

Started with Booker T's Green Onions which was a bit of a gimme, and when Electric Boys' Who Are You came on third I was on a roll. But after that I only ID'd artists Dakota Suite and Get Cape Wear Cape Fly (steward's enquiry on who was first to the tape; me or the 11th second), missing out completely on Feist (One Two Three Four, which she starts to sing at about 8secs, so that was a D'OH! moment), Great Lake Swimmers, Grant Lee Phillips (no voice in first 10s or I'd have had that), Jason Ringenberg, Fountains Of Wayne or Deerhoof (sorry steenbeck!). I also cheated by eliminating slow fade-in intros from Dirty Three and Explosions In The Sky, so it could be claimed it's only 4/20.

Can I go to bed now, please?

Mnemonic said...

Yeah, it's those slow fade-ins that get you every time. Try Stars of the Lid for those. I can always identify who, but never which. Because my ipod's permanently on shuffle, I play this game all the time and it's scary how often I have to look to see what a track is.

snadfrod said...

Darcey'sDad, yes you can go to bed - I actually hope you have by now... - and for services above and beyond the pointlessness of the task, I thoroughly commend you. It's fitting, then, that you should be our leader so far (bet you're pleased you got two points for DBT...). A quick question, though - Great Lake Swimmers are a band I keep hearing bits about. Worth it?

So, would anyone be able to get John Cage's 4'33" inside 10?...

CB said...

I don't have to play this game to know how bad I would be at it. Like Mnemonic it is a regular occurence, although, in my defence, I have accidentally illegally downloaded some songs by new (to me) artists in an attempt to widen my tastes. (Thanks Ejaydee.) CaroleBristol - I never owned a walkman, a discman or another portable music device after I accidentally crushed the transistor I bought aged 13 (1969) until I recently bought an iPod. I still haven't used it with earphones but it is like having my own radio station. I use it thru speakers in the kitchen and in the car and it is ideal when cooking or driving. As a late convert I invite you to join us on the dark side.

treefrogdemon said...

I did very well this morning on the way to work...but I think my iPod was helping, as there were 3 Richard and Linda all of which I got at the first chord.

CaroleB: I never thought I would become an iPod lover - I bought it because I was tired of changing CDs in the car (plus I felt it was a bit dangerous). I also thought I would NEVER set it to shuffle as I am (was) a boring pedant who thought you ought to listen to albums all the way through in the proper order. But now I have it on shuffle all the time and absolutely adore it. Never use the headphones though, except when watching movies on planes.

CB said...

@Snadfrod - The trouble with 4' 33" is that it sounds so much like the beginning of Hung by System Error.

DarceysDad said...

I wouldn't get 4'33" because of Mark Hollis' The Colour Of Spring.
The latter is one of my three funeral songs, and one of the most played tunes I own. MH always made the point about the spaces between the notes being important, and tCoS (the album opener, no less) starts with a full nineteen seconds of silence.

Great Lake Swimmers? One of the albums I need to rediscover; playing as I type. Mini-review to follow this eve, hopefully.

Shoegazer said...

Here's what the iPhone threw up:

ACR - "Only Together". Dodgy start - wrong song, 1pt.
Monochrome Set - "Jet Set Junta"
Funci Porcini - "Dubble"
Wolfgang Press - "Riders on the Heart". On a roll.
Lee "Scratch" Perry - "Yes My Friends". Bugger, thrown by psychotic intro - thought it was The Fall. 0 Pts.
Jack Norton - "Coal Brown World"
Hunters & Collectors - "Run, Run, Run"
Electafixion - "Feel My Pulse". Back on track.
Yeah Yeah Noh - "Cottage Industry"
The Fall - "Trust In Me". Oh, now you show up.

17/20. My iPhone loves me.

ToffeeBoy said...

@ shoegazer - First of all, nobody likes a show-off! Second of all, ToffeeBoy Say - Monochrome Set - Yay! And last of all, I just found a Yeah Yeah No album in the attic last weekend which I'd completely forgotten about - can't remember anything about them - C86 ish? Not to be confused, of course, with the Yeah, Yeah, Nos.

DarceysDad said...

@ Snadfrod re Great Lake Swimmers:
I've had Ongiara on repeat most of the day, so yes I'm delighted to have . . . I was going to say RE-discovered it, but if you want the truth, I think it's been sat here unlistened-to since whenever!

One line review time - Arcade Fire sat on the back porch trying to play Neil Young's Comes A Time LP from memory. Or Ryan Adams doing his falsetto thing whilst fronting Dolorean. Oh I'm no good at this description thing: email me from my profile, and I'll send an mp3 by return ... tomorrow!

Mnemonic said...

Hi DsD, can you copy me on that mp3. I've nothing by them and I think they might be my kind of thing. I also SO glad to know I'm not the only one with unheard CDs.

glasshalfempty said...

There are six tracks on Great Lake Swimmers' myspace, for anyone interested - http://www.myspace.com/greatlakeswimmers

Listening now, sounds pretty good to me. There's sooo much great music coming out of Canada these days, sneaking under the radar mostly.

Shoegazer said...

@ ToffeeBoy AKA CaptainScarlet AKA 37.5%

Monochrome Set: How can you go wrong when your lead singer is called Bid?

Yeah Yeah Noh: Very C86ish. Fit somewhere between The Fall & The Nightingales if that floats your boat. Only 1 full album 'When I Am A Big Girl" with a really cute, pouty kid on the front cover.

ToffeeBoy said...

@ shoegazer - that's TalkingScarlet...

I've just popped backup to the attic and it turns out that the Yeah Yeah Noh album I have is the Peel Sessions album with the wonderful title 'fun on the lawn lawn lawn'. I'll put it on the pile for future mp3 conversion.