How to write the best music ever (apparently)

So I spent some time today looking at lists of the worst pop songs of all time. (Never you mind why.) And I discovered this:

According to Wikipedia, "Komar and Melamid is an tandem team of Russian-born American conceptualist artists Vitaly Komar (born 1943) and Alexander Melamid (born 1945)." These were new names to me, so I figured I'd do a bit more digging (i.e. Googling). And I found this, from allmusic.com:

"Vitaly Komar and Alex Melamid's most famous project, The People's Choice (1994), involved hiring a consumer testing agency to perform market research surveys in several countries to find out what the average person's aesthetic tastes were, and then producing paintings to illustrate what each of these countries' most- and least-wanted paintings would look like. Both a hilarious parody of the concept of 'art for the people' and a pointed critique of how thoroughly market research and polling influences daily life, The People's Choice was a controversial but successful project. In 1996, Komar & Melamid decided to explore how The People's Choice would adapt to other art forms, and with the help of musician/composer Dave Soldier…created a new poll to determine American tastes in music. After an extensive series of polls and surveys, Soldier composed, under Komar & Melamid's supervision, 'The Most Wanted Song' and 'The Most Unwanted Song.'"

"The Most Wanted Song", which the artists claimed would be "unavoidably and uncontrollably liked by 72 percent of listeners", is essentially an R&B ballad, complete with soprano saxophone and synths. "The Most Unwanted Song", which conversely the artists suggested "under 200 individuals of the world's total population will enjoy", includes children's choirs, operatic sopranos, accordions, bagpipes, tubas, and lyrics about either holidays or cowboys - all features which surveys determined are disliked by a majority of Americans.

I was a bit surprised by the elements of unwanted music - I like most of those things (some in more moderation than others). But combining them into one composition definitely brings home the least desirable features of each. And what a composition it is - it's 22 minutes long, and I'm perfectly comfortable admitting that a) I did not make it through the whole thing and b) it probably is one of the worst songs I've ever heard. So, I guess, mission accomplished.

As for those "worst ever" lists, I recognized most of the tunes and I agreed, for the most part, with their placement on those lists. But lists of this sort are always subjective - one person's pick-me-up is another person's source of dread. (Or is that just me?) The polarizing nature of music makes programming a festival challenging - I know my opinion on great music differs from others'; even when as a committee we agree on what would make a great show, we are sometimes surprised by the lack of enthusiasm from the audience.

So what does an audience want - great melodies? Interesting harmonies? Catchy rhythms? More cowbell? All of the above? Luckily, there are people like Komar and Melamid to help us there, compiling all of the things people want to hear in their music into one succinct tune:

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some music to write, and some great synth and wind chime patches to activate…

Josh

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