I’m still messing with playlists. If you read yesterday’s post, you’ll note that I mentioned that one of the fine-tuning problems with my continuous mix of music was the ‘resting’ issue – particularly of Gold tracks.

In other words – if I hear a classic song that I haven’t heard for AGES and I love it, then that’s usually an indicator of a good mix. If I hear the same song again the next day, then the whole mix will strike me as repetitive, even if that was the only song I heard again.

The phenomenon seems directly proportional to the degree to which I notice that the song is playing. Yesterday, it happened to me with Joan Armitrading’s ‘Me, Myself, I’. What a great song. Haven’t heard it in such a long time. Except… it came on again today.

Now, there were other songs that came on again today – but the fact that I had noticed it yesterday – it was a ‘wow’ moment of instant recollection – meant that I noticed it even more today. So… problem.

‘Me, Myself, I’ is, in the context of this playlist, iconic. There are lots of other songs on the playlist that are not iconic, and might go past several times without me noticing that I’ve already heard it.

So – to get around this problem, I’m making variations of the playlist, and listening to subtly different versions of the same playlist on different days. I’ve identified a whole bunch of songs within the mix that are iconic, and I have spread them across several different versions of that same playlist.

So if 15% of the songs are iconic, and I make three different versions of the playlist, then 85% of the songs are identical across all three. But each iconic song appears on only one playlist.

There are more sophisticated ways of doing this – and it raises other problems that I will address in other ways – but this will do as a quick fix for now.

What’s really interesting, going through the ‘iconic’ list is the relatively small amount of criteria that puts them on that list. There are songs that have particular memories attached to them – especially ones with strong emotional responses; songs that have very distinctive lyrical content or unusual arrangements; and songs that were popular when I was in my mid to late teens. And the overlap between those criteria is pretty significant.

These are the songs that stand out. The ones that need to be treated as special and used sparingly.

In this context, the opposite of ‘iconic’, incidentally, is ‘generic’.