<chenyu. I/O

A list of songs I liked

Obviously I don't have a song list here. I am the guy who like to claim that I have never have favourite things. It's true, though. Whenever the security questions comes, asking my favourite movie, book, sport, or even teacher, I will know that I will forgot someday. It always ends up me keeping a fake list of things in mind, for the security questions, as well as some over-friendly people.

Back to the topic of music. When I was I kid, I don't like any of the music that doesn't require skill. I hated pop music, watching the older kids obsessed with pop stars, I always wonder that there are so many awesome performers, why would you go for someone who can't even get the high nodes. Besides, to me as a child, pop music was some noisy mess. Of course I know now I was comparing them to the complexity of kid songs. I realized that by listening to Mozart's Requiem, expecting a new-age like calming experience, but ending up confused by angry(as I comprehend) vocalists shouting Latin.

I then started my music exploration journey, from pops stuffs Jay Chou and Backstreet boys, which my roommates blast me on, to film music for my drama projects in high school. I started to "get" why people like different kind of music, I understood them little by little, from Chinese-pop, to 90s ballads, to pop rock, to mainstream pop. I started to know that complexity is not the ultimate goal, as the utter complex thing is gaussian noise, which is also quite interestingly some academic projects. I get used to different kind of complexity, like the showoffs in the Romantic era, the emotions in 80's rock, the stories hidden in folk song's lyrics, the game of sounds in electronic music, the sick flows in hip hop, and the 1000+ extension chords in Jazz, and so on.

Knowing stuffs make me sad, sometimes. I then know that I cannot find the best music to like, I can only find the music that I like the best. But.. I really don't know. Originated for a time in university where I need to make videos for my college clubs. Since a pop song would sure cheer a lot of people up, I started to follow the Billboard charts [1], pin down some nice hits for my videos. At the same time, I was also searching for some music that I really like. The journey is not quite straight forward, sometimes I just find myself sinking into elitism of favouring complexity, or ends up being a pop music critic, measuring a song purely by how it would perform well in the market. I have Google sheets of songs that caught my ears, I called them "guilty pleasures". I also have "Next pop trends" and "Advanced work" files, though. Sigh.

I still like to explore, though. A fresh song/pieces that contains ideas that I have never heard of (of which that I comprehend, though) would excite me. Before I am doing something that would bore me, like housework, I will find some new music to listen to. Today I was in the same state. Quite tired due to side effects of vaccination, I went off my work for a day and enjoy some chill music. After watching a musical on British minecraft stream VODs, I encountered a weird song list after some mindless random clicks. Youtube's recommendation algorithm never got me before, but from the thumbnails and titles I still found a lot of stuffs interesting to me: modular synthesizer cover of Clare de Lune, Japanese traditional music, math rock and so on. They are great, after listening to them I confirmed that. "This is such a pleasant playlist", I think.

I listened to a few of them and couldn't more enjoy that. I wanted to record the playlist because I want to keep them for the next session. But as I dragged down the list, I discover that the list "My Mix" is not any random list. It is just a list of songs I upvoted, that's all, it is the over-fitted results of the laziest recommendation system: try to predict the past interaction data. Across the years, I will songs upvote the song/video I like.
And most of them I forgot that I liked.

I don't have any playlists that's truly "favourites" ever. I only have "focus" type of playlist, or "enjoy the novelty" type of playlist. It is just like, I don't really dare to really commit to like something. I had the thoughts of the possibility that I really don't have something that I like, I was only influenced by the society view of music. It was quite unsettling to think about that. But I have a list now that I just realized: being influenced choices whatever they are, I still like them, I enjoy them, and that's what important. Right?

Some people really have their own taste on everything, which I was really curious about before. I faked a lot of my life choices as "I just like them", but there's always some other rational reasons behind that. And the reasons are usually the real rational calculations. I hoped to have "raw motivations" and always expected it to be something magical. But a lot of things recently, including this music list, is indicating a possibility that I actually have them all along. It's actually nothing magical for me. It's like a shy kid behind the curtain that will sometimes show up and share a few things, behind all the fancy reasoning about values. I keep pushing new things into my head, the kid gets overwhelmed sometimes. But he is always there and I unconsciously make decisions based on him.

To really "live life to the fullest", we cannot limit ourselves in boxes and expose to new possibilities. -- This is what people usually say. But to me it is not quite the case. When more possibilities rush in, I feel more resourceful, but still ungrounded. All the decisions are all well thought, for my life plans on long-term and short-term happiness. But they are always just -- a bit uncomfortable. Because I seldom listened to the kid. I did not realized that he exists. He is always afraid of the unknown unknowns, but I did not listen to that. I was not thinking out of box: I don't even have boxes to stay comfortable inside in the first place. I was always thinking detached for my self as a friend.

I was always searching for new solutions when I got lost. It's like sailing in a never-ending ocean. I never looked back. But I was never realized I could be actually so comfortable -- with merely a list of songs I liked.