There are only three reasons to listen to the Billboard Top 10 on a continuous loop for 10 hours:
- 1. You’re 13 years old.
2. You love pop music.
3. You’re a masochist.
Options 2 and 3 would apply to me. I’m not the type of masochist who locks himself in a room and blasts these 10 songs on a loop because he has nothing else to do but listen and cry. I’m the type who has the entire music library at his disposal, but decides to spend his long workday blasting the 10 most popular songs in America into his ears. That’s me. The songs:
1. “Somebody That I Used To Know” — Gotye featuring Kimbra
2. “Payphone” — Maroon 5 featuring Wiz Khalifa
3. “We Are Young” — fun. featuring Janelle Monae
4. “Call Me, Maybe” — Carly Rae Jepsen
5. “Wild Ones” — Flo Rida featuring Sia
6. “Starships” — Nicki Minaj
7. “What Makes You Beautiful” — One Direction
8. “Glad You Came” — The Wanted
9. “Boyfriend” — Justin Bieber
10. “Drive By” — Train
I knew very little about these songs before the 10-hour experiment began. And before beginning the 10-hour aural lovefest, there was one rule that I decided to enact, in order to make this nightmare even more fun.
After every hour, the music would be paused and notes would be jotted down about the songs and my overall mental state. Once that took place, the song that I simply couldn’t tolerate would be eliminated. The upside of that is getting rid of the worst of the bunch, but the downside is that with each deleted song the playlist gets smaller, and the number of times a song is played increases. This was going to be awesome.
Hour 1: (10 tracks, 35 minutes)
This is going to be survivable! Most of these I kind of enjoy. I still don’t know what a “Gotye” or a “Kimbra” is, but that song kind of rules. Had no idea Maroon 5 and Wiz Khalifa had a song together. Oh Wiz, I knew that Bing commercial was a sign of things to come. I thought I loved “Call Me, Maybe,” but it just doesn’t have the have the same impact on me sitting at a desk as it does in a crowded bar after the Rangers win a playoff game. “Wild Ones” should be Sia featuring Flo Rida, because she is the real star of this song. I hope she knows THAT STARSHIPS WERE MEANT TO FLY. I think this One Direction song is beautiful. I really wish I was in this band. They’re having so much fun. (And no, I don’t know that I’m beautiful. I wish I did.) I had no previous knowledge of “Glad You Came” or “The Wanted,” but I also hear this song every day. I’m not mad at it, but not happy with it either. I love Bieber, even though the verses remind me of David Banner’s “Play,” but not as good. Finally, I have a zero-tolerance policy for Train songs not titled “Drops of Jupiter.” Oh, you don’t believe me?
ELIMINATED: “Drive By” — Train
Hour 2: (9 tracks, 32 minutes)
These songs don’t really need to be heard more than once a day, but I’ve just hit the fourth loop for the majority. Oddly enough, some are starting to get better (“Starships” — Nicki) and others make me want to swan-dive into a moving taxi (“Payphone” — Maroon/Wizard). This song is really bad. Adam Levine is cursing a lot, which I guess is cool when your main audience is 14-year-old girls, but it’s not cool to me. Wiz is the best part of this song, because he’s a good rapper, but the fact that my ears have to suffer for almost three minutes until that verse couldn’t be more rude. Other notes: I caught myself whistling the chorus of “We Are Young” very loudly, “Somebody That I Used to Know” is starting to creep me out, and I still really want to be in One Direction.
ELIMINATED: “Payphone” — Maroon 5 featuring Wiz Khalifa
Hour 3: (8 tracks, 28 minutes)
This playlist just dipped below 30 minutes, which means hearing the same song three times in one hour is becoming a reality. I slightly feel like stopping this process — there’s no denying the facial tic that just developed — but it’s only seven more hours. That’s not so bad. Right? As for the songs, I just noticed Bieber said “Swaggy.” That’s awesome. Maybe because “Boyfriend” isn’t as loud as “Starships” or “Wild Ones,” I’m starting to appreciate it for its calm demeanor. Flo Rida is a really unfortunate musical presence. Also, I really began listening and internalizing the lyrics to “Call Me, Maybe,” and I just can’t believe Carly is 26. No one in their mid-20s should think that it’s crazy to have just met someone. That seems like a very normal thing. You’re an odd one, Carly — don’t know what to make of you. “We Are Young” is the song I’ve been listening to the longest, but I have not grown tired of its whiny chorus. The beginning of “Glad You Came” is awesome before the Irish house part kicks in, but I’m undecided on the rest of the song. Sometimes it’s my jam, and sometimes I want it to go away. It’s not worse than Flo Rida, though. I’m sure of it. Sorry, Sia. Do a song with One Direction next time. Or just anyone but Flo Rida.
ELIMINATED: “Wild Ones” — Flo Rida featuring Sia
Hour 4: (7 tracks, 24 minutes)
This is the worst. My food doesn’t even taste good anymore. I’m waterboarding myself by way of JAMZ. I just texted a friend and asked them to bring me Tums, but I have no clue what that’s going to do. Anyway, every one of these songs and the artists that made them can just disappear forever. All I want to do is listen to “Reach” by Gloria Estefan. It gets me through all the bad times. But I can’t. It’s not even about which ones I like at this point, because now I’m just irrationally beefing with certain songs/artists more than others. The Wanted and One Direction are both boy bands, I don’t want both of them around anymore, and One Direction’s lyrics make me feel pretty, so later, The Wanted. Go away. Forever.
ELIMINATED: “Glad You Came” — The Wanted
Hour Five: (6 tracks, 21 minutes)
“Starships” just got awesome again. I can’t explain it, but hearing “Let’s go to the beach, EACH” for a 10th time really made me smile. The more chilled-out songs (“Girlfriend,” “Somebody That I Used to Know,” and “We Are Young”) aren’t getting any better, but at least they are almost like ear massages, making up for my new least-favorite song, “Call Me, Maybe.” I think I ruined it for myself. I once thought this would be the “Party in the USA” for summer 2012, but I fully retract that statement. It is actually painful to listen to at this point. I can’t wait for her 27th birthday, when no one calls her, ever. If I hear this song out and about, I’ll probably snap and form tackle the DJ. I should probably lay low for a few months.
ELIMINATED: “Call Me, Maybe” — Carly Rae Jepsen
Hour 6: (5 tracks, 17 minutes)
Passing the halfway point somehow gave me a second wind. Now that I understand that I’ll actually finish, a lot of my negative feelings about starting this in the first place have subsided. I’ve started to fall in love with Kimbra’s voice (I’m guessing that’s the girl), and Nicki has just become the Queen of my Universe. The song is so loud and abrasive, but I’m in such a zombie state that I can’t help but raise my arms in celebration every time the chorus kicks in. I mean, starships were meant to fly! She’s not a liar. It pains me to say this, but the teen boy sensations are the ones that are starting to drive me crazy. Because I’m slightly delirious, I have no problem keeping it real, so let me, bravely, state that “Girlfriend” isn’t that great. Bieber could do better. This spoken-word rap section is just bad. I’m sorry. While I know this isn’t true, at this point I hear One Direction and think, five Biebers. I love Bieber, so five > one.
ELIMINATED: “Boyfriend” — Justin Bieber
Hour 7: (4 tracks, 15 minutes)
Each song, four times in one hour. I don’t know what the grand total is for each remaining song, but I’m rounding down to 250. I know every lyric now — and while this will be a great advantage should I survive these last three hours and stumble upon a karaoke party, I loved my life when I didn’t know everything that was going on in pop music. Anyway, after seven hours, Gotye and Kimbra are back to creeping me out, but this time I think those feelings are here to stay. When I was just bobbing my head back and forth, ignorantly, I didn’t mind it, but now that I’m singing along with each word, I feel like some sort of nefarious character that wears fake mustaches and disappears out of plain view when a bus passes by. No clue if that’s what Gotye and Kimbra were trying to do to people when they made this evil masterpiece, but that’s where I am right now. After 20-plus listens in a day, I think I’m evil. That sucks.
ELIMINATED: “Somebody That I Used to Know” — Gotye featuring Kimbra
Hour 8: (3 tracks, 11 minutes)
Something horrible just happened. I just finished all of my work for the day, which means I’m now just sitting here, staring out to a busy intersection, listening to these songs torture my soul. While Nicki and One Direction have, at times, made me want to go Mookie on this coffee shop, they are also keeping me awake and, perhaps, alive. “We Are Young” has started to make me sad and entirely too introspective. I don’t want to set the world on fire right now. I don’t want to burn bright. I want to go home and pretend like today never happened.
ELIMINATED: “We Are Young” — fun. featuring Janelle Monae
Hour 9: (2 tracks, 6 minutes)
Listening to Nicki and One Direction 10 times in one hour isn’t healthy, but interestingly enough, I’m not mad. I know that this is pretty much the end of the road, so why not enjoy the bangers for one more hour, right? The “na, na, na, na, na” part in “What Makes You Beautiful” is something that I love, as is the heavy dubstep buildup after “higher than a motherfucker” in “Starships.” I’m going to miss these two songs, because I know I’ll never voluntarily listen to either of them again. It’s like the last day of summer camp, when everyone is all “we’ll keep in touch, obviously, because we’re going to call/write every weekend” but you know deep down it’s never going to happen. I want to think I’ll type “Starships” into Spotify next week to reunite with my old friend, but there’s just no way.
ELIMINATED: “What Makes You Beautiful” — One Direction
Hour 10: (1 track, 3 minutes)
Congrats to Nicki Minaj for making the greatest song of all time. I’ve never loved a human as much as I love:
- Starships were meant to fly
Hands up and touch the sky
Can’t stop ‘cause we’re so high
Let’s do this one more time
- Starships were meant to fly
Hands up and touch the sky
Let’s do this one last time
At 9 hours and 57 minutes, Nicki and I did “Starships” one last time, just as she instructed. And it was beautiful.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to call my mother and tell her I had another productive day writing education policy at my think tank job in Washington, D.C.