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Home » Music

Your Musical Identity

Submitted by on August 9, 2010 – 7:58 pm 46 Comments

I was in the car today listening to the “Top 5 at 5” feature on a local radio station. Listeners send in lists of five songs they want to hear and the DJ picks one list to play at 5 p.m. Today’s winner was someone named Adriana and her first 3 songs were:

  1. Adam Lambert’s “Whataya Want from Me”
  2. Taylor Swift’s “Love Story”
  3. The Black-eyed Peas’ “Let’s Get It Started”

I didn’t get a chance to hear her final two songs because I arrived at Trader Joe’s and had to begin the back-breaking process of grocery shopping (the bags I hauled outta there were heavier than my car). But I realized the songs I did hear gave me clues to who Adriana might be.

I’d say she’s in her early 20s because she’s a Taylor Swift fan and still young enough to want to get a party started. When you get to a certain age, you want to shut them down. She’s someone who would like to be a rebel like Adam Lambert but is really a sweet girl who’s still looking for the right guy and her own big love story. She probably works 9-5 as an assistant in an office somewhere and having her favorite songs played on the radio helps make her commute home a little more pleasant.

Of course, I could be waaayy off—Adriana could be a 58-year-old divorceé who owns a tattoo parlor—but it was fun to play this little game. I’d like to think Adriana offered up a glimpse of herself, intentionally or not, and I was saying, “I hear you, girl.” I then wondered what would be on my list.

Without thinking too much about it, here’s what I would request in no particular order:

  1. The Eagles’ “New Kid in Town”
  2. Israel “Iz” Kamakawiwo’ole’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”/”What a Wonderful World” medley
  3. Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop”
  4. U2’s “One”
  5. Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours”

This list will most likely change tomorrow; heck, it might change in 20 minutes. But as it stands, what conclusions would you make from my choices (other than I’m old)? What would be your top 5 at 5?



  • Funny you picked Jason Mraz — it wasn’t the dance for the wedding, but it was the one we selected for everyone to dance to! I love that song!

    Hmm. This is a fun, and tough questions! My five might be — Sunday Morning (Maroon 5 — that was *the* wedding dance), Calling All Angels (Train), Build Me Up Buttercup (The Foundations) , Even Flow (Pearl Jam), and I couldn’t pick a final song, so it came down to either classical or salsa. 🙂

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      Oh, I can tell this is going to be interesting.

      From your choices, I’d say you’re mostly a hopeful, happy person who doesn’t dwell on the tough times even though you’ve had some. You look at your marriage as an equal partnership where both of you take turns holding the other person up.

      Did I get ANY of it right?

  • EIREGO says:

    For me, it’s all about the lyrics and and the melody. They both have to be strong or else I’ll change stations to hear what else is on. My taste is all over the place.

    I like:


    AIRBORNE TOXIC EVENT – Sometime Around Midnight

    DON HENLEY – Last Worthless Evening


    LA ROUX – Bulletproof

    THE ROLLING STONES – Honky Tonk Woman

    JOE WALSH – Living A Life Of Illusion

    RAY PIZZI – Mo’ Blues (from the Mo’ Better Blues Soundtrack)

    I know that’s more than 5, but you got me started…

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      What have I gotten myself into? This is a tough, eclectic list!

      I’d say you’re an energetic person, looking at the world with mostly optimism though you’ve been burned a few times. You’re an extrovert, you like strong women, I’d guess you’re in a relationship with one now and that you’re quite romantic towards her (Mo’ Better Blues, baby!).

      How’d I do?

  • jenn says:

    Oh PCN – you always ask such difficult questions. (By the way, when I saw Taylor Swift, I almost abandoned your post. You’d be shocked how many of my grown male students like her songs. Not the demographic I pictured).

    It depends on the mood I’m in. I’ll go with the mood I’m currently in:

    James Taylor – Something in the Way She Moves
    Cesaria Evora – Partida
    Robert Plant/Alison Krauss – Stick with Me Baby
    Cowboy Junkies – Sweet Jane
    South Austin Jug Band – Little Wing

    Oh and so many more… Dang, I thought I was going to bed.

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      Hahaha! Now I know who the really tough readers are, the ones who can’t be deterred by Taylor Swift.

      OK, you were in a mellow mood when you wrote this since it was bedtime, you live in the South (I cheated) and pride yourself in having non-conformist taste in music and probably other things as well. You don’t limit yourself to whatever your peers are listening to, remaining open to music from past generations.

      • jenn says:

        Dead on. I am a bit of a snob when it comes to music, but I also really love some mainstream stuff. Mraz is pretty fun and lighthearted, which brings me to you:

        I’d say you’re lighthearted and carefree (at the moment you desired this playlist) but also with an undercurrent of melancholy (the medley). You, too, like to keep it a bit non-conformist as your range of music shows taste and knowledge of music. But you’re not a music snob. You went with a couple mainstream-ers publicly on your blog, so I’d also say you’re accessible and open.

        Am I at all right? Should I go back tot he drawing board?

        • Pop Culture Nerd says:

          Hey Jenn,

          Thanks for doing my reading!

          I’d say you’re right on all counts. I played the violin for 6 years so I know classical music but I love contemporary pop tunes, too. I once worked as a radio DJ at a station that changed format from alt-rock to Top 40. Some of the DJs weren’t happy, thinking the station lost its edge, but I was just as happy bopping to Madonna as I was to R.E.M. & Psychedelic Furs. I also freely admit to loving the Bee Gees. Can’t hear one of their songs (unless it’s a ballad) and not want to dance.

  • Jen Forbus says:

    I’m not sure what your songs say about you PCN since I’m only familiar with the Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles songs. But, based on those two…I think you view yourself as an outsider but don’t let that deter you from moving onward and upward and you don’t let it define you. How’s that for psycho-babble. I wouldn’t venture to guess age except to say older than 35 based on when those groups were popular; however, that’s iffy because lots of people enjoy music that came before their generation…influence from parents or just fads that might be occuring.

    I’ll do 5 from just off the top of my head, but like you they could change 10 minutes from now and it could get ugly if I tried to actually put thought into it.

    1. THAT OLD BLACK MAGIC but sung by Harry Connick, Jr. – I actually don’t think he’s recorded this?? Does anyone know if he has because I haven’t been able to unearth it. But I heard him perform it live. If it has to be a recorded song, then I’ll go with SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW, Harry’s recording.

    2. CHANTILY LACE by the Big Bopper

    3. HAPPY GIRL by Martina McBride

    4. CLEAR BLUE SKY by George Strait

    5. GIMME THAT GIRL by Joe Nichols

  • I think your song choices indicate you’re not in your twenties, you are at an age where you’ve mellowed slightly but have youthful curiosity combined with plenty of fight and feist.

    Can we take this show on the road, like palm readers? Instead of tarot decks we could work with mp3 players!

    These aren’t my favorite songs, just ones I wouldn’t mind hearing right now:
    1. Mr. Blue Sky by ELO
    2. Smuggler’s Blues by Glenn Frey
    3. Comin’ Up by Paul McCartney
    4. Nice and Easy by Frank Sinatra
    5. Now Comes the Night by Rob Thomas

  • Gina says:

    Love the post!’re not too old. *silly popculturenerd* Well, if I have to go against the adage of “judging a book by it’s cover” or in this case a fellow reader by their music list, let’s have some fun! I’d say about YOUR list…
    1. You probably hold on to the feeling of being new for quite some time in most social situations. Not a bad thing though…
    2. You like to see the good in people, situations, etc. Painting the world as an ideal place…. *and get songs stuck in my head…like just now*
    3. Um…gotta plead the fifth. I don’t think I’ve heard that one… O_o
    4. U2 is U2. They work for all ages, and for so many reasons, I’m not even going to try to decode that one.
    5. You like the simple things in life, whether you actually take advantage of them or not…including the basic need/feeling of belonging to something, somewhere, someone…
    Hit or miss? (No really…I’m curious!)

    Now my choices of the moment…(and that is literally of the moment because I have to agree with you, it changes MANY MANY times throughout a day)…no particular order…
    1. Josh Groban – She Dances
    2. Kenny Loggins – Footloose
    3. Tyler Ronan – Ready to Fly
    4. Sister Hazel – Sail Away
    5. Michael Tolcher – Bad Habits

    So whatcha think?

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      Gina, you’re good! I don’t do a lot of self analysis so it was fun to consider your interpretations and conclude they’re all true on some level.

      OK, my turn with your list. I’d say you like to dance! You’re also a daydreamer, often wishing you’re someplace else when you’re at work. If someone you know is unhappy, you try to make it better somehow. You’re reliable, the person your friends would call to help them out of a jam.

      How’d I do?

      • Gina says:

        Really? LOL. Pretty much right on the money….except for the “love to dance” part. The song title to that one is misleading. You should have a listen over at at his website if you get a chance. Otherwise yes….hmm, now I feel a tad transparent. ^_^

  • le0pard13 says:

    I appreciate your attempt at analyzing the playlist submitter, and love that you’re opening this up to your readers. This will send your left-brained system for a whirl after you review the lists this will generate ;-). Hmm… well, for a drive home 5 at 5 playlist I’d go with these, for the moment:

    1. Through the Fire – Chaka Khan
    2. Viva La Vida – Coldplay
    3. Praan – Gary Schyman
    4. Fly Me to the Moon – Frank Sinatra
    5. Let Her Dance – Bobby Fuller Four

    I know, it’s all over the place. I wonder what my kids would offer up? I should ask them… then shudder ;-). Thanks, PCN.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Based on what I’m feeling right now:

    Sulfur by Slipknot
    Warning by Green Day
    Behind Blue Eyes by The Who
    Vicarious by Tool
    Strong As I Am by The Prime Movers

    That’s in no particular order, and will have changed by the time I get off the treadmill I’m sure. Maybe just weird enough a list to earn me a ‘follow’. 😉

  • 1. The Only Flame in Town, Elvis Costello
    2. Steam, Peter Gabriel
    3. Romeo and Juliette, Dire Straits
    4. Love and Affection, Joan Armatrading
    5. Coyote, Joni Mitchell

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      Hi Catherine!

      I just got your list but it’s almost 3 a.m. and I’m knackered. I’ll give you a proper reading tomorrow!

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      OK, had my coffee and breakfast and ready to roll.

      You’re melancholy about a relationship that didn’t work out, possibly due to you two being in different locations or the timing was just wrong. But you’re not sitting around being mopey about it. You’ve poured yourself into a project, you feel it gathering “steam” and about to explode any day now!

  • What a fun game. But PCN, if you’re old, what am I?! Based on your choices, I think you have a little Peter Pan in you, while being very grounded and with a wisdom beyond your years and a healthy dose of “don’t mess with me”. I love, love Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, by the way.

    In for a penny ~ here’s my Top 5 off the top of my head. Wait, I’ll just drain my teacup so the leaves are ready:

    Kate Miller-Heidke The Last Day on Earth
    Powderfinger Poison in Your Mind
    Josh Groban February Song
    The Doobie Brothers Long Train Running
    Earth, Wind & Fire Got to Get You Into My Life

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      As I just wrote to Catherine above, it’s incredibly late so please allow me until tomorrow to come up with your analysis. Thank you for your comments on my list. I rather like being called Peter Pan!

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      This list gives me the sense you’re missing someone. You’re apart for now because you both have things you want to accomplish but you hold hope that someday you’ll be together or at least see each other again and things will be better. You’re also experiencing a little frustration that the path you’re currently on has more bumps than you anticipated.

  • Brad Parks says:

    Oh, PCN, this is just too damn much fun. Can I play? Can I play??

    Warning: Cheesy music choices ahead…

    1. Taylor Swift, “You Belong With Me”
    2. Owl City, “Fireflies”
    3. Green Day, “Time of your life”
    4. Natasha Bedingfield, “Unwritten”
    5. Fountains of Wayne, “Stacy’s Mom (Has Got it Going On)”

    I know, I know. You’re already sensing I’ve got the soul of a tortured artist…

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      Of course you can play! If you have no shame about your personality quirks being publicly displayed, that is.

      You see the beauty in details others might miss or take for granted. You’re a romantic who married your best friend, someone you’d known for a while before having the guts to express your true feelings. You’re not afraid of taking risks because some of your greatest accomplishments are due to your making a leap of faith. You think the unknown can be exciting.

      You’re not a snob when it comes to pop culture, enjoying whatever makes you happy. You’ve been accused of being immature but prefer calling it a “youthful spirit.” When you were in high school, you had a friend with a hot mom (this last part might be too literal an interpretation).

      So, did I ruin your reputation?

      • Brad Parks says:

        As you know, I need absolutely no assistance in ruining my reputation. I can do that on my own. 😉

        Onto your analysis, Dr. Nerd. It’s pretty spot on. The only whiff was the, “You’re a romantic who married your best friend, someone you’d known for a while before having the guts to express your true feelings.” I AM a romantic, but I have no problem making The Move. I hooked up with my wife on the first date. The choice of a Taylor Swift song is actually a little more superficial: I like thin blondes.

        You nailed my take on pop culture, though. I have no use for snobbery. I strongly suspect it cost me a spot on that New Yorker “Top 20 writers under 40” list, but I’m okay with that as long as I make Jen Forbuses’ “Hottest Men of Crime Fiction” list.

  • Paulette says:

    Candle In The Wind-Elton John
    Day In The Life-Beatles
    Wild Horses-Rolling Stones
    A Song For You-Temptations

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      You travel a lot, keep up with current events and bad news affect you deeply. You believe in people’s ability to change the world if they want to and practice what you preach by doing your part. You’re a little nostalgic for the past, a time when life was perhaps easier.

      • Paulette says:

        You are amazing, Elyse! Taking the time to comment on each post and with such detail! HEY! My prize arrived…I started reading and wondered if this were an homage to James Joyce being set in Dublin and all (I contend that no one has actually ever read Ulysses and if they say they have they are lying!). At first I thought that reading this book (In The Woods) was going to require far too much effort for a lazy summer day, but now I am thoroughly engrossed and loving the flow of words.

  • Poncho says:

    This is great, PCN! Trying to make sense of someone’s musical choices seems like fun. I always thought my life could be made into a musical, so I think it’s not that tough to choose some songs. So, in no particular order, ‘ere they are:

    * Santana & Rob Thomas – Smooth
    * The Beatles – Come Together
    * Kabah w/ Alejandra Guzmán – Al Pasar
    * Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now
    * Chris Brown – Forever
    * Fernando Delgadillo – Hoy hace un buen día

    Thank you, PCN. This was fun!

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      Poncho! Long time no see.

      Your list was challenging since I’m not familiar with the 2 songs in Spanish and couldn’t understand all the lyrics, but here goes:

      You have an idealistic view of the world, believing anything is possible. You’re interested in science (astronomy?), sometimes speak in a language not everyone understands, and have great love for your country. You have a crush on a girl but are shy in approaching her. You want to tell her that if she gives you a chance, you’d treat her well and be fantastic for her (I think so, too!).

    • le0pard13 says:

      See, this proves we’re related. I always think of songs that would play well in action sequences, if my life were to be adapted to film. Great picks, BTW.

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