I get tired of being stuck in my old (musical) ways. Day after day, it’s the same hip hop, jazz and R&B blasting out of my boombox, iPod and computer speakers. How can one discover new musical flavors without going through tooth-wrenching discomfort? I conducted a musical experiment called the “Five for Five challenge” to find out. It takes your favorite music, reimagines their titles, and introduces you to enjoyable music from your most detested genre.
The process began by first picking a genre I had little interest in: country. Shout out to all the country-listening readers out there! Then, I jotted down 5 objective words that came to mind when I think of country music: Nashville, cowboy, Chevy, America and heartbreak. After selecting 5 of my favorite songs I’ve listened to in the last week, I inserted one “country word” in each title of those songs. Then, I entered the new title in YouTube or Google and picked the first immediate song from the results. What did I find? Keep reading to find out!
I combined “Dreamy” by J Dilla (Vintage vol. 2) with “Nashville” to create the new title: “Dreamy Nashville.” I entered “Dreamy Nashville” into YouTube. The first music link I found on the results page (nine videos down) was “Photograph” by The Auto Defiance. The group’s website description fit my reaction to a T: “infiltrating the country music epicenter with a seductive mix of alternative rock, indie pop and modern rock.” It didn’t sound like cliché country music, but its contemporary rock-indie fusion gave me enough leeway to explore the genre further.
Next came “Cool School” by Michael Franks (Rendezvous in Rio) and “cowboy” to create “Cool School Cowboy.” A YouTube search (4th video) resulted in “Open up your heart (and let the sunshine in)” by The Cowboy Church Sunday School. The 1954 Stuart Hamblen classic took an Alvin and the Chipmunks like ode (at 45 rpm) to the undeniably “wild, wild west.”
Thirdly, I mixed “Break the Bank” by Schoolboy Q (Oxymoron) with “Chevy” to make “Break the Chevy.” I had to enter “Break the Chevy song” in order to find a non-vehicle-destroying link. The link ended up being “This world won’t break on the Chevy” by Greg Schroeder. I enjoyed Schroeder’s folk-tinged vocals and masterful storytelling.
On deck was “Show Us How You Fly” by DJ Spinna (Intergalactic Soul) fused with “America” to bring “Show America how you fly.” I had to maneuver through Google again with “Show America how you fly song” and got “Fly Away” by Lenny Kravitz. This song shies away the furthest from country, but it was great listening to a Kravitz classic!
Last but not least, I merged “After the Dance” by Marvin Gaye (I Want You) with “Heartbreak” to search “After the Heartbreak.” Instantly I found “After the heartbreak” by former American Idol contestant, Brielle von Hugel. Von Hugel’s affinity for soul, soft rock and country shines in a steady ballad of emotions.
Did this experiment fill me in on everything country? Absolutely not. But did I discover new music from a genre I would hardly ever have taken a chance on? Without question. All it took was my own favorite jam, a little creative energy and a couple of clicks. It did wonders! So the next time you find yourself in a musical rut, try this “Five for Five” new music challenge and discover the musical possibilities.