I own a smartphone, but generally I'm not a big "app guy." I should be. I mean, there are lots and lots and lots and LOTS of free apps that are cool and useful. And the ones I do have are great. But I don't go to the app store and just shop around or anything like that.
I did, however, download SongPop. And I love it. The idea is that you listen to snippets of songs and try to identify them (or the artist who recorded them) as quickly as possible. You get points for doing this, and you go one-on-one against another person to see who can get the highest score from a set of five songs.
This appeals to me for three reasons:
(1) I love music
(2) I love games
(3) I'm inordinately competitive
The thing is, I'm not a SongPop genius or anything. I win about as often as I lose, which makes me the SongPop equivalent of almost every Cleveland sports team I've ever rooted for. But I still enjoy the game and make a point of playing it at least once a day.
I have a small circle of people I play against. Most of them are pretty good at SongPop, but none is as good as my nephew Mark. Mark is the New York Yankees of SongPop players (NOTE: This analogy would have worked better a few years ago when the Yankees were actually good. I wanted to say "the Montreal Canadiens of SongPop," but only my hardcore hockey fan friends whose memories extend back to the 70s would have any idea what I was talking about).
Anyway, Mark is really good at SongPop. To the point that part of me thinks he's cheating. He not only guesses every tune correctly, he does it in an average of something like 1.2 seconds. And some of his answers happen in less than a second. I can't process the song in less than a second, let alone identify the correct answer from the choices given and then select it by touching the screen. This whole sequence takes me an average of, I would say, 3 seconds. Occasionally I get under 2 seconds, but for the most part, I'm slow.
Is this because I'm old? I ask this seriously. Do you start to lose your reflexes and brain processing power in your early 40s? If so, then it's happening to me. I don't mind it so much except that it means I constantly lose to Mark. And to Kathy Ciciretti. And to Mike Pugh. They're all very good at SongPop.
Chris Dorazio is also good at SongPop (EDITOR'S NOTE: Do we need a refresher course here? Since it has been more than half a year since I was regularly blogging and mentioning Chris Dorazio? OK, for those who don't know, Chris Dorazio is my daughter Chloe's boyfriend. He's Vietnamese. But he has an Italian last name. And he juggles. And he is always referred to as "Chris Dorazio." Got that? OK, good. Let's continue.)
Chris Dorazio is good at SongPop. And he plays it a lot. He and I have these really tight games. If one of us finds himself too far behind the other on the weekly scoreboard, we'll select a musical category where we know we have an advantage. I should have mentioned for those who haven't played SongPop that you can select a musical category or genre, and the songs you have to guess will all fall into that category or genre.
Like, for example, if Chris Dorazio wants to stump me, he'll pick "Modern Rap" or "Glee." He knows my knowledge in both of those is lacking, though occasionally I'll get lucky and beat him. If I need to shut him down, I'll go to one of my favorites: 80s Collection or New Wave or Jazz. It becomes a Battle of the Musical Generations.
And let me say this: I actually do know a LITTLE something about modern music and all of that. I have five kids, three of whom are teenagers and one of whom is within a year of becoming a teenager. So I have no choice but to be at least passingly aware of current music. But I never remember who actually sings what.
For instance, there's a rapper named "Flo Rida." His name is pronounced "Flow RIGHTA." But I, being the Clueless Adult, initially looked at the spelling of his name and said "Flow RIDDA," with a short "I" sound. You know, like the state. The child to whom I said this − it may have been Chloe − laughed at me. Derisively. I was so proud.
And there are acronyms involved in modern pop/R&B music that I can't follow. There's a group called LMFAO, right? Or is it ROTFL? There's a hip hop artist called B.o.B. And there's a band called Fun, but they're just plain "Fun," not "F.U.N." Who has time to keep track of all of this? Not even the unemployed, I can tell you that.
There's also the fact − and please understand how much it pains me to say this − that so much of what I hear on the radio these days sounds exactly the same. Like it's the same song just sort of remixed and maybe refashioned with the same synthesizer-based instruments and a slightly different melody. I don't want to think like this, I really don't. It's straight from the Old Guy Playbook, but I can't help it.
Back in my day (April 1986 through June 1987), even the hair band songs were all distinctive! You could tell Ratt apart from Poison in an instant. And the lead singers at least wore different colored lipstick so we could distinguish them from one another, which I always thought was very considerate.
I used to be a pretty ardent follower of popular music. That all changed circa 1991 when the grunge thing came along and I found that, at the age of 21, I was unable to tell Soundgarden from Pearl Jam from Smashing Pumpkins. It happens to everyone eventually, it just happened to me early in life.
So the result is that I sometimes struggle in SongPop. Actually, I usually struggle in SongPop. I always forget the Gangnam Style guy's name. And I get Justin Bieber mixed up with OneDirection − a mortal sin in my daughter Melanie's eyes. But then again she's 12 and, really, what does she know?
She couldn't name every song on Side A of Duran Duran's debut album, which her old man had on cassette circa 1981, that's for sure. Score one for daddy!