In 1997, two Russian emigrees, Vitaly Komar and Alex Melamid, created “the most unwanted song” of all time. When the two conceptual artists (who also experimented in the visual arts, too) arrived in the United States, they became fascinated with american-style public opinion polling. So they polled 500 people on their music preferences–everything from instruments to lyrical content. The result, created with musician, Dave Soldier, is “the most unwanted song” ever. Melamid and Komar, via their polling found that
“The most unwanted music is over 25 minutes long, veers wildly between loud and quiet sections, between fast and slow tempos, and features timbres of extremely high and low pitch, with each dichotomy presented in abrupt transition. The most unwanted orchestra was determined to be large, and features the accordion and bagpipe (which tie at 13% as the most unwanted instrument), banjo, flute, tuba, harp, organ, synthesizer (the only instrument that appears in both the most wanted and most unwanted ensembles). An operatic soprano raps and sings atonal music, advertising jingles, political slogans, and “elevator” music, and a children’s choir sings jingles and holiday songs. The most unwanted subjects for lyrics are cowboys and holidays, and the most unwanted listening circumstances are involuntary exposure to commercials and elevator music. Therefore, it can be shown that if there is no covariance–someone who dislikes bagpipes is as likely to hate elevator music as someone who despises the organ, for example–fewer than 200 individuals of the world’s total population would enjoy this piece.”
It seems that I am part of that 200. I find the piece wonderfully comical and a joy to think about. The section beginning about 1:35 is a pure delight: an operatic soprano rapping about cowboys! Listen to the music here.
(thanks to andrew sullivan’s blog for leading me to this wonderful work)