All good songs must come to an end ... when they're overplayed

pdonohue@beaufortgazette.comMay 30, 2013 

I fear something that is tragically inevitable and feels as soul-crushing as the conclusion of an Ingmar Bergman film.

After many long months and fruitful memories, I fear my love affair with Seattle rapper Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' "Can't Hold Us" might soon come to an end.

Though it's been the first song I put on nearly every time I stepped foot on a treadmill or out my front door for a run, "Can't Hold Us" is beginning to lose some of its sizzle, and I honestly dread the day when it will fail to illicit the emotional response within me that it has since I first heard it.

It makes me sad that I'll, one day, hear the song and won't bounce around like I'm about to take the court for game 7, and that it may become just another of the 500 some-odd songs on my running playlist.

It will be tagged, however fair or unfair, as "overplayed" in my mind and will then lose the fun, psychosomatic hold it once had on me, joining songs like Lupe Fiasco's "The Show Goes On" and Matt and Kim's "Now" as my go-to songs of workouts past.

However hard, I recognize that this phenomena is hardly unique to me or my exercise routine.

Think about it. How many times have you discussed a popular song with your friends, one with which you were once infatuated but now find tiresome, and heard one of them or even yourself describe the song as "overplayed?" I'm guessing such occasions number in the hundreds, unless you purposely listen to obscure music so as to avoid this problem, in which case, get a life.

But becoming overplayed isn't the song's fault, right?

A great song is a great song but not unlike Tootsie Rolls, pizza or roasted bone marrow, the law of diminishing returns certainly comes into play here.

There is such a thing as too much of a good thing but not unlike stuffing your face full of candy corn then getting sick because of it, we, as music fans, are largely to blame for a song being overplayed.

The music business is about supply and demand, as are revenue-starved radio stations, their numbers dwindling each year, whose managers know that staying in business means playing the hits ad nauseam, even if that comes at the cost of annoying listeners and breaking new artists.

Like Gotye? They're going to give you Gotye until the opening notes of that otherwise great song sound like a dentist's drill.

Like Mumford & Sons? The music biz is going to give you all of the gravely voiced, stompy, vest-wearing folk rock you can handle, friend.

So, we become sick of these songs.

And is it fair? Of course not, but on some level, we can chalk this up to human nature.

We bore easily, particularly in an age where our attention spans are shorter than ever and our wandering eyes and ears are always on the lookout for the next big thing.

To play off an old adage, variety isn't the spice of life. It's not oregano or thyme.

It's salt. It's a key seasoning to a life well-lived and until that ceases to be the case, we will continue to grow tired of certain songs, just as we grow tired of certain foods, places and people in our lives.

Until then, we will continue to complain that songs are overplayed.

Yes, even "Can't Hold Us."

This week, in honor of the overplayed, a playlist featuring eight recently overexposed songs.

For the record, we got our fill of Gotye. We're done with that guy, right?

  • fun., "Some Nights" -- Between the nonstop airplay and the dozens of commercials this song has been featured in, is there anyone on Earth who doesn't know every word to this song?

  • Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, "Can't Hold Us, feat. Ray Dalton" -- The song that inspired this playlist. Still not tired of it.

  • Gotye, "Somebody That I Used To Know" -- This song had a good life and may be something I'm happy to hear two or three years from now. But not until then.

  • Of Monsters and Men, "Little Talks" -- An undeniably fun song that I wish mainstream radio hadn't gotten a hold of. RIP.

  • Imagine Dragons, "It's Time" -- A massively popular song that I never warmed to. Not to mention, Imagine Dragons is the cheesiest band name since Savage Garden.

  • Mumford & Sons, "I Will Wait" -- Unlike the rest of the artists on this playlist, the band, and not a particular song of theirs, feels overplayed.

  • Taylor Swift, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" -- Made my list of last year's best songs, but now I never find myself longing to hear this playful little jam. Like, ever.

  • Bruno Mars, "Just the Way You Are" -- The tipping point for this song was when it was used in an ad for "People" magazine. Something about the irony of a song about loving someone the way they are while photographs of airbrushed celebrities whizzed by was too much for me to handle.

  • Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at twitter.com/IPBG_Patrick.

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