How much of a music fan are you? You may be pretty keen, but just how keen? I remember many years ago someone called Danny Baker’s radio show to say he had regularly sorted through Paul McCartney’s bins and pulled out a Christmas card from one of the other Beatles. What was interesting about that, aside from the sheer gumption and mild insanity of the man, was that McCartney had thrown the card out even before Christmas Day, suggesting perhaps that relations were frosty with the sender at that point in time…
Clearly I don’t condone such behaviour, but what you may not know is that there is now a way of measuring and monitoring your interest in music. Until now, we have had to make do with being reassured by reading of other people’s obsessions. “I might be a bit over the top” I think to myself whilst scrolling through my 200GB iTunes collection “but I am no way as bad as that guy…”.
The good news is that things have moved forward. I recently discovered * a little known but properly scientifically researched ** way to measure a person’s obsession in music which covers every level of fandom from “Not at all interested” to “Sad obsessed music blogger”, to “they’re in my hotel room, please call security”.
I’m glad I don’t know any of the music bloggers: they must be soooo dull. *Eric Morecambe look to camera*
I thought you might be interested in the research. The deranged fan scale is known as the Mills Scale. Interestingly, each unit of measurement of deranged fandom is known as a “Heather”.
Here’s the Mills Scale and the various measurements: Remember, this is highly scientific…
- No interest. Actively switches off radio if it comes on (NB this can apply to all other levels if tuned in to local radio stations). Probably a Jedward or Gary Barlow fan.
- Very low interest. Last two CD purchases were Adele (“21”) and Dido (“Life For Rent”). Finds much to stimulate the mind in local radio station daytime playlists. Able to store entire music collection on an iPhone.
- Slight interest. Used to be keener, but Lionel Ritchie went off the boil and music hasn’t been the same since. Will have a favourite national radio station. Usually Heart FM. Or Magic. Bought Emile Sande’s album this year but will look blankly at anyone who mentions Arcade Fire.
- Slightly lower than average. May like X-Factor for the actual singing rather than to laugh at the performers. Likes “Hallelujah” but has never heard of Jeff Buckley or Leonard Cohen. May speak of liking some “edgier” bands like Ed Sheeran and Mumford and Sons.
- Average. According to Spotify, this person spends $55 per year on music. Radio 2 listener. Somewhat knowledgeable. Likes Jeff Buckley’s original version of Hallelujah rather than that X-Factor version…
- Slightly above average. A healthy interest. Goes to concerts, usually at the O2 Arena. Still has gig t-shirt from random nineties Britpop band in drawer “just in case I lose a few pounds”.
- Above average. May read a music magazine. Regular gig and festival goer. Still fairly normal. Able to hold knowledgeable conversations about favourite genre of music (dance/indie etc) but importantly can also not be out of depth speaking about other topics, such as real life, sport, politics etc.
- Keen: Large collection of MP3s, mainly downloaded from Napster and Torrent sites, means a larger hard drive to store music collection may be necessary. May still be able to store CD or vinyl collection in a single room. Conversation frequently and sometimes deliberately revolves around obscure bands in NME and Hype Machine that no one else has heard of.
- Insanely keen: End-of-year-best-of-list-maker. Has overly-large collection of CDs or vinyl in several rooms. Seeks like minded nerdlings for reassuring conversation, like early Christians once did. May harbour suspicions that Pitchfork sold out / jumped the shark after 2010. Spends spare time disagreeing with people on the comments sections of internet articles. Or (ahem) writing their own blog.
- Ludicrous obsessive: Has collection of sweaty towels allegedly once owned by favourite pop star that will never, ever be washed. May also own one of the following items:
b) Half eaten sandwich
c) Cigarette end
any of which odious articles may once have belonged to star in question and which are now kept under pillow. If female, writes own first name alongside surname of favourite pop star “just to see what it would look like”. Friends have started moving sharp objects out of the way “just in case”. Tweets ludicrously over-the-top death threats to newspaper columnists who make mildly negative comments.
So there you have it. Let’s hope the Mills Scale helps people recognise whether they need to seek help…
On a completely unrelated matter, one of my friends, who may or may not score quite highly on the Mills Scale, (but who does not – as far as I know – own any toenails that once belonged to a musician) made a mixtape containing his favourite tracks of 2013 for a dozen or so people, including me. It was beautifully put together.
I know 2013 was, oh, ages ago and everyone is moving on to all the new 2014 stuff, but sometimes it is worth taking a breath, pausing, and reflecting on life. This is one of those times.
I shan’t risk embarrassing him by publicly naming him, especially as he’s gone on holiday and doesn’t know I’m writing this, but it was so good, I thought I would share it with readers of Every Record Tells A Story by recreating it on a Spotify playlist.
I say “a mixtape”; it was actually a four-CD musical odyssey crafted with precision over a five week period, complete with liner notes and with serious consideration given to the flow of tracks. Each CD was given a theme, including a “late night” chilled selection, a more danceable collection, a “riffs, beeps and beats” series and the one on the playlist below which has the theme of “Boys and Girls With Guitars”. I think Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine will have agonised less over his last album.
All this leads me to the conclusion that my friend is either a genius, or has a) a brilliant obsession with new music and b) far too much time on his hands. Let’s go with “Genius” in the absence of evidence to the contrary.
I can take no credit for the way this has been put together, but can’t think of a better way to sample a huge selection of some of last year’s best tunes, particularly those that are a little off the beaten track, so I hope you will subscribe to the playlist and enjoy. Note however that because of Spotify not quite having everything, there are two missing tracks: London Grammar’s Wasting My Young Years should come in after British Sea Power and Michael Head and the Red Elastic Band’s *** “New by Street” should come in after Vampire Weekend. My friend won’t approve, as it might spoil the carefully chosen flow of his playlist, but I think it works anyway. I defy anyone to listen to this a couple of times and not want to investigate some of these bands further.
Please enjoy – and remember, there’s always someone more obsessed than you…****
Playlist: 2013 – Girls and Boys With Guitars
- * By “discovered” I mean “made up for the purposes of this article”
- ** Down the pub. Loose use of the word “scientific”.
- *** No, me neither.
- **** and he made this playlist…