How Many Chances do you Give a Song??

If a song doesn’t particularly strike you on first listen, how many more chances do you give it?

And does that number vary depending on if it’s (a) a top favorite artist, (b) an artist you casually enjoy, or (c) an artist whom you have virtually no exposure to?

I suspect that for most of us, our answer for (a) would be higher than (c). Why is this?

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32 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. Generally, One.

  2. I listen to the complete CD two or three times. Then I begin my rotation of listening only to the specific songs I like. This does not vary for me based on the artist. I base it on the song.

    This is what bums me about radio. You’ll hear the latest by L5 or Greater Vision – then some unknown group that probably should not be played on national radio (Enlighten)…



    • jeb, i agree with 50% on this one. there are some that should not be on there. but there are some national groups and there songs don’t cut the mustard, and the regional groups blow them away. But i also like that enlighten goes against the grain, and plays what the dj’s like and kinda of sticks to the excutive’s who think only the national groups should be played, or what’s on the charts.

  3. If the musical and vocal part of the song refuses to satisfy my liking, then I focus on the lyrics. If they’re solid, it’ll eventually pass the test. If not, it’s possible I may never listen to it again.

    • I am intrigued. That is commendable and a thought-provoking approach (in a good way).

  4. Hmmm, definitely more chance for A, then B, then C. I think the reason is that they’ve gained your confidence already … Think of it from the opposite direction. If someone walks up to you in a store and says something kind of insulting, you’re not gonna give them much of a chance. You’ll think, “How rude!” If a trusted friend says the same thing, you’ll spend a little more time thinking about why they said it and trying to decide if there was a good reason for it. That’s not an exact analogy, but it’s kind of the idea.

    How many times? I’d probably keep listening to albums from A maybe 5-10 times … Actually, probably until they start getting on my nerves bad enough I have to skip them.

  5. I don’t really know. That’s a bit vague. It depends on just how “blah” I feel about the song. If I’m listening to it at all, it’s got to have passed some kind of preliminary filter unless I’m listening by accident. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I think the lyrics should be the center of the song, but you can have a decent lyrical idea that’s just completely ruined by the music and the delivery. I might hear a loud rock song that’s not that bad on the lyrics but that my ears simply can’t endure.

    If I’m listening to a favorite artist, and a song strikes me as blah, I might listen to it one or two more times, shrug my shoulders and leave it.

    • Well yeah, there are some songs by almost every artist that have never gotten more than one or two listens from me. And some songs I have never yet made it through. (Like, “Let It Be Me” from a certain really good bass singer.)

  6. I will give a song many more chances if it is part of an album that is stronger. I do not often skip a song just because it does not adhere to my “normal” listening preferences and I listen to many different sounds, styles, etc… even though they may not be my first choice.
    However, if a song does not have strong vocals with it, I find it tough to overcome no matter how well done the orchestration is or how sound the lyrical content may be.
    I am of the opinion, if you can’t sing WELL… don’t record yourself singing. It takes away from the music. This is probably why I enjoy SG the most because vocals are often a main feature as opposed to something like CCM where heavy instrumentation often overshadows the voice.
    Just a thought

    • You know, that is an interesting point – there are songs that, by themselves, are quite weak (like “I Still Believe in the Church” from the Booth Brothers’ Declaration) that I’ve listened to more than a dozen times because the rest of the album is so strong.

      • Also coming to mind is the debut album from Statement of Faith. At first I was not entirely impressed with the song content or lyrical quality (admittedly because many of the songs were new or more obscure) however, the album overall was very strong and the vocal quality is great! I also knew that Arthur Rice had a major part in the production and it showed in the orchestration… therefore, after several more listens, Great Album! Great Songs!

      • It is indeed hard for a brand-new group to break out with almost entirely new songs – yet there are a number of really, really strong songs on that CD, and that certainly helps!

      • I thought “I Still Believe In the Church” was a cute detour from the rest of the album and a lot of fun. Certainly not “weak.” But it makes sense that it wouldn’t be your preferred style. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Curiously, being a techno-phobe, I might appraoch this from another angle –

    “Do I listen to a CD through at first hearing?” Yes, always.

    “Do I skip songs on second play?” Here confidence in the artist will coem into play – some more readily get a 2nd chance, especially if the song, though weaker ‘fits’ the theme of the album/project.

    This is an imprecise science – if I am driving and the music is semi-background it is more likely to get played through. If I am fully concentrating on the lyric firstly and the music second, then still OK. If I am in an umcompromising mood, then I will skip to preferred tracks only – and even that is affected by the ‘mood’ :-).

    However, once I upload to i-tunes, then [because control is easier?] I will categorise by playlist, and ultimately ‘X’ off the playlist tracks I don’t wish to hear again.

    Curiously – here’s a thing – I don’t like to destroy the integrity of the album arrangemant, so I don’t ‘delete’ EVER, just remove fro, playlist.

    On a very occasional purchase, if the album generically disappoints, I don’t import at all. Unllike Abraham, I don’t plead for all on the basis of the one!

  8. If it’s generally a good CD, I’ll typically load entire CDs to the Zune.

    Then, if they happen to come up in random rotation, the song gets a second chance. If I find myself skipping certain songs a lot, I’ll eventually get around to pulling them.

    The burden, then, is on the song not to be boring over time rather than having impress me on the first listen.

    • David,
      You’re the first person I know that has a Zune. Nothing wrong with it – I’m sure it’s great. Just never met one of you Zune-ers before.
      That’s all I have to say.

      • I wish I had got an iPod Classic instead.

        The 120GB Zune has a larger display, which is why I opted for it. In practice, though, I rarely use it to view videos.

        The iPod has the market cornered when it comes to accessories, which is where the real value lies…so many more ways to interface with boom boxes, car radios, DJ equipment, and so forth.

  9. A friend of mine who is a terrific musician and worship leader once encouraged me to be disciplined about how I approach new recordings. She said to make every effort to listen to new projects at least half a dozen times before passing judgment. And I’ve found this to be good advice. Some music doesn’t appeal to me at first blush but when I give it chance it really grows on me. This is especially true for music that is outside my favorite genre(s).

    • I agree with this. Sometimes you have to been in a certain mood or situation to get the full effect of a song. If you listen to it once, but are in a mood not condusive to the mood of the song, you might miss out on a very good songs. There are a lot of SG songs that I’ve skipped over at first because I wasn’t in the mood to listen to a slow/fast song, but then later on come back to that song only to realize how powerful it really is.

  10. I listen to the words and really enjoy up and coming new groups like Statement of Faith they get virtually no exposure but have very good songs , I have skipped going to some national group concerts to see and hear new groups .

  11. hhhmmm… i give a song one or two listens but really it depends on how the song touches me and my life. Susan wrote she likes Statement of faith trio, I also enjoy this group, i like the groups who really work hard to get where they are…sometimes it makes the songs they are singing more meaningful because you know they are leaning on every word of the song.

  12. I usually do it like DBM does..only i load it on iTunes. So one pops up everyonce in a while..but i leave them in there. Sometimes bad (to me) thrown in the mix, make you appreciate the other good songs more.

    Music from artist you’ve known for a long time can bum you out at first..that has to do with expectancy and /or anticipation.It just ain’t what you thought it would be…(for instance GBV’s last album) But when i lay it aside (the album) and spin it again a few weeks/months later…i enjoy it more…because i’m over the initial disappointment…works for me.

    GBU Auke

  13. Daniel in answering the question How many chances do give a song. I listen to the contents of the song and the personal recognition of each voice , as others have stated how they enjoy the new groups like Statement of Faith Trio I will have to give credit to that group , the voices of that group are rewarding to hear with the passion they sing with each word. It is satisfying to know group like Statement of Faith have a desire and compassion for southern gospel music .I realize that we particularly go for songs from the big ones like L5,BB,Perrys but it would be absolutely a honor to have some of the new unknown groups to open at NQC for the national known groups.

  14. Hmm, did Statement of Faith mention this post anywhere?

    (Not that that’s a bad thing! Quite the opposite, in fact!)

    • NO, I was just informed of this post this morning… I’m sitting in Las Vegas this morning thanking God that our music is making a difference and that it is being enjoyed. Thanks everyone for your prayers and support. Hope to see you at a concert or service near you soon. I don’t know if this is allowed but here is our website if you’d like to know more about this new group:

      • Jacob – totally allowed. Glad to hear from you!

        Well, in that event, it’s cool that the grassroots buzz is growing for the group! That’s a remarkable number of mentions, given that it isn’t specifically pertinent to the post topic. ๐Ÿ™‚ Of course, the debut CD is remarkably good, so it would stand to reason that people ought to start talking about it, but that’s no guarantee that they will. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Yeah, I guess I’m gonna have to check it out, huh?

  15. I really listen to the arrangement and the style that the song is written in, I also listen to the message that the song is trying to convey and is the arrangement/orchestration helping convey that message. Like some previous bloggers have posted, Statement of Faith is a good group, they really have great arrangements and original ideas and they also convey the message quite well.

  16. Three times a charm for me. If it doesn’t come through the third time around I’m done.

  17. Only one. Actually maybe only a few seconds. Like, 15-20 seconds.

    • Holy Events – wow! I guess you’d be making the decision based on the music, then, more than the lyric?

      • I only make decisions that fast when I really know I’m going to hate the song! Like, if it’s ear-splittingly loud, and the singer is practically screaming. Also, sometimes the lyric reveals itself as painfully trite within the first few lines (I’ve had that happen with various CCM songs).