Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Most Unwanted Music

I remember these paintings from the Dia center by Russian artists Vitaly Komar and Alex Melamid. Here is a short description for how they came across this idea
Upon emigrating to the United States in 1978, they searched for an American secular religion on par with Marxism, and found it in the psuedo-science of public opinion polling.
They are manifestations of the "Best" and "Worst" paintings as chosen by the public using a general survey. Yes that is George Washington. They show that if we get everything we want, or nothing we want, the end product is equally unsatisfying. What we really want to see is not some list of things together, but something that makes us feel something and want to talk to other people about it. Which of course does make this  a good piece of art, once you know why it was made.  

So when I heard of of these songs they made in 1997, I had to hear it. "The Most Wanted Song," (unavoidably and uncontrollably "liked" by 72 ± 12% of listeners) and the "The Most Unwanted Song" (Fewer than 200 individuals of the world's total population will enjoy this ). Of course after listening, I love the most Unwanted song (it is on right now) and I hated the most wanted song. I had to turn it off. Interesting that this is the opposite reaction that the paintings invoke. The popular one is interesting, and the unpopular one is flat. Where in music, the popular one is flat and the unpopular one is dynamic, and hilarious. 

Here is an article describing their work more. They come out of a post-soviet ironic movement that uses tools of mass popular appeal - and somehow making them wrong.

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