The Sound and the Fury

makeitstopA while back, the Heavy Thinkers at my workplace decided everyone needed to listen to the same music. So they tuned the intercom to one of those insipid Sirius “contemporary pop” channels and started blasting crap out of the speakers over our heads.

This is a problem.

Now, I’m not a music hater. In fact, I tend to think of my tastes as eclectic and fairly comprehensive. A small sampling of my iPod music library:

  • The Greatest Western Themes (provides the pleasant diversion of gently swaying and bouncing in one’s desk chair while listening to the theme from Wagon Train)
  • The Essential Paul Simon (Okay, I really only bought it for “Call Me Al.”)
  • The Very Best of Fogelberg (Hey! Don’t judge me. If you don’t like songs about baby horses, you’re a MONSTER.)
  • Mungo Jerry’s Greatest Hits (All two of ‘em!)
  • “The Battle of New Orleans” by Johnny Horton (Oh, that rockin’ drumline drill!)
  • “Lawyers in Love” by Jackson Brown (Because it’s snarky.)
  • The Carpenters Essential Collection (What did I say about judging me?)
  • Alan Jackson’s Greatest Hits, Vols. 1 & 2 (Way down yonder on the Chattahoochee, yo!)
  • Alone Again by Gilbert O’Sullivan (Story of my life.)
  • Irish Pirate Ballads and Sea Shantys (Aaargh, with a side of Lucky Charms)
  • Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs (“Ghost Riders in the Sky!”)
  • The Vengaboys’ “We Like to Party” (Except I don’t.)
  • World’s Most Relaxing Classical Music (Zzzzzzzzz)
  • Weird Al: Dare to Be Stupid (Oh, I do, Al. I do indeed.)

cathaterSo really, I’m pretty tolerant of musical styles and genres. I even like medieval chant and Renaissance madrigals. Sadly, the rotation of about half a dozen songs that the intercom pumps out continuously just happens to be the half a dozen songs I CAN’T STAND. You know it’s going to be a rough day at work when they’re already playing “Let It Go!” as you walk into the building. (You’ll hear it at least three more times before the end of the day.)

I suppose my betters have considered the impact of enforced melody on the workforce; they’ve probably even read that scientific study that suggests people who listen to music complete tasks more quickly and come up with better ideas than those who don’t. It must certainly cut down on the overtime, as staff seem eager to race for the exits at the stroke of 4:30 just to get away from the din.

One part of the research the company seems to have glossed over is this important finding: “Dr. Lesiuk found that personal choice in music is very important.”

torturingCIAUm, yeah. There’s a reason the CIA uses music to torture people. Sgt. Mark Hadsell, member of the U.S. Psychological Operations team explained the technique: “If you play it for 24 hours, your brain and body functions start to slide, your train of thought slows down and your will is broken.”

Hm. Maybe the bosses *have* read the research.

According to Music.Mic, the list of songs most commonly used by the CIA to “create fear, disorient and prolong capture shock” include the theme from Barney (legit; that would drive me mad), “We Are the Champions” by Queen (What, no “Bohemian Rhapsody”?) and the singing cats from the Meow Mix commercial (Aw. I could listen to that all day.)

I don’t approve of the use of any kind of torture. But if the government plans to continue this tactic, I have a few suggestions for additions to their hit parade:

“Human” by Christina Perri

This is on heavy rotation here at work. After listening to her bleat the refrain again and again, my mind wanders toward revenge:



And I bleed when I fall down …”


Good to know. Then you’ll leave a nice puddle of gore when I hit you with my car.


“Your words in my head, knives in my heart.”


Don’t I know it, babe. Also, knives in my ears.


“Try” by Colbie Caillat


Okay, I gather this is supposed to be some kind of feminist anthem, and I’m a bad person to hate hate hate every measure of this tune, especially the “inspirational” refrain:


“You don’t have to try-try-try-i-i-i

You don’t have to try-try-try-i-i-i

You don’t have to try-try-try-i-i-i

You don’t have to try

Yooooooo don’t have to try.”


Okay, I believe we’ve firmly established that I don’t have to try … to stand this music. And you, Colbie, don’t have to try so hard to make me want to tear my own head off.


“Let Her Go,” by Surrender

Yes, this was cute when it accompanied that Super Bowl ad about the puppy and the horses. The cute has worn off.


“Well, you only need the light when it’s burning low;

Only miss the sun when it starts to snow.”


That’s Cole Porter-calibre stuff right there. My biggest beef with this one, after a thousand hearings, is the kind of “aw, shucks” quality of the lead singer’s voice. It reminds me vaguely of Leon Redbone … but not enough to like it. (It also has a James Blunt vibe. No wonder I hate it.)


“I Lived,” by One Republic


Okay, I feel a little guilty hating on this one, because apparently it’s about a diseased youngster. Honestly, most of the song is okay. It’s just that wordless bridge, like George of the Jungle :







Ohhhhhhhhhhh, I want you to STOP, One Republic singer. This song was played in some commercial, too. For car insurance? Coca-Cola? Viagra? I don’t remember. The CEO of our company used this one in her motivational appearances, though. It certainly motivates me … to update my resume.


And finally, the song that is – ironically – like icepicks to the ears:

“Let it Go” from Disney’s “Frozen,” sung by Idina Menzel.

The lyrics to this one aren’t bad; it’s got that kind of “power of nature” vibe that Disney milked so effectively in the “Pocohontas” soundtrack. The tune is pretty, and the singer is gifted. So why the hate? I suppose it’s just the ubiquity of the tune that’s so galling.

There is nowhere in the world you can go that you won’t eventually hear this song playing. It seems appear from thin air, like those creepy HAARP sounds the YouTube nuts are hysterical about.

Also, every toddler in the world knows this thing by heart and is compelled, via Disney’s cunning mind control program, to SING IT OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER …

After listening to these songs for several weeks, I broke down and bought some high-tech, noise-cancelling headphones. Now I can listen to Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show, Bobby Darin and ABBA all damned day if I want.

Frankly, I think it would only be fair to allow all employees one day to pick the intercom music they like. Barry Manilow, anyone? It’s CIA-approved!






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