Nothing like a little scientific scrutiny of something personal, subjective and often complex to get everyone all agitated.
Studies about music tastes tend to get people worked up. No one wants to be a statistic when it comes to loving Metallica, but they can probably pick a fellow fan out of a lineup. At the same time, a middle-class white girl can love underground hip hop as much as shimmering indie pop.
The most recent point of contention comes from music technology blogger Paul Lamere. Based on a survey of music-streaming "devices," he created a map that shows each state's standout artist. Not the most popular within the state, but the one that is more popular than anywhere else. You should read up on the whole thing over at musicmachinery.com, but here's how he described the process.
"For this study, I sampled the listening preferences of about a quarter million listeners that have a zip code associated with their account. update: Listener data is drawn from a variety of music streaming services that are powered by The Echo Nest. I aggregated these listeners into regions (state, regional and all-US). To compare regions I look at the top-N most popular artists based upon listener plays in each region and look for artists that have a substantial change in rank between the two regions. These artists are the artists that define the taste for the region."
Colorado likes The Naked and Famous more than any other state, which sort of surprised me. My home state of New York went for James Blake, which is slightly less surprising. Others, like Oregon showing the most love for Kurt Vile, are a big "duh."
Commenters have mostly been confused, since no one bothers to read past the map, but even the people who understand the parameters are annoyed. When Gawker aggregated the post, it got reactions like, "What the hell is Bonobo? The monkey or the stupid pants company? -A Californian," "I actually think Virginia's love of Dave Matthews Band is more embarrassing than any other pairing," and "I haven't lived in Michigan for over 20 years and I'm still cringing with embarrassment."
Last week, there was the Pandora study on music and politics to similarly irk people. The company is using 2012 data, also http://notes.variogr.am/post/26869688460/how-well-does-music-predict-your-politics from The Echo Nest, to determine whether someone is a Republican or Democrat. In essence, the top 10 artists for each side break down to country and pop or hip hop.
Of course, you can probably pick artists off the list opposite of your party leanings. This study, while based on statistics, is even more frustrating. A hard-line Democrat does not want to be lumped in with those Republicans who are apparently hogging up all the Pink Floyd.
If you judged me by my music collection, you would be confused as to my age, race and background.
Maybe one Gawker commenter put it best: "pointless study is pointless."
Contact Ashley Dean at 303-473-1109. On Twitter: AshaleyJill.