Welcome to For Your Consideration, a new series about things we love and love to do — and we’d like to give you permission to embrace your authentic self and love them too.
A strange thing happened driving home from Connecticut with my girlfriend this summer. Listening to St. Vincent on shuffle, “Smoking Section,” the final track on her pretty much perfect album Masseduction, started playing. We were both quiet. She said it first: Why do I feel like I’ve never heard this song before?
It was, frankly, impossible, and yet she had snatched the words right out of my own brain. But still… impossible. We both had listened to this album over and over — together and individually. We went to the Masseduction tour, sat four rows back as Annie Clark absolutely melted us with her queer rockstar power. There is no way we had never heard this song. But here we were, listening to it as if it were the very first time, the low growl of St. Vincent’s vocals in the beginning new and surprising, the slow drum vibrating. This is not a forgettable song, and yet somehow, we had both forgotten it, together, a shared memory lapse that unnerved me.
Maybe it’s one of those situations where you hear music differently because of the place you’re in in your life, she suggested. Maybe we weren’t literally hearing it for the first time — which was, again, impossible — but just hearing it anew.
The song ended, and I immediate played it again. And again. Without really thinking about it, I hit the repeat button twice to set it to Repeat One. I listened to it on repeat for at least four days.
The best way to listen to a song is to listen to it over and over and over again on a very long, incessant loop. Listening to “Smoking Section” in this way was nothing new; it merely interrupted the loop that came before it: Chvrches’ “Miracle,” which I listened to when visiting the Heavenly Bodies exhibit at the Met and then kept listening to for days on end, falling asleep to it, looped, at night. Of course, I don’t only listen to music this way. There’s room for more than one song at a time in my life. But looped listening is intensely satisfying, a way to let a song really sink into your bones and become marrow.
On my parents’ clunky stereo system in the first house I lived in, I loved to listen to three songs on repeat from a soundtrack for a movie I hadn’t even seen yet. I must have been seven years old, cranking the volume as high as I could get away with as I scream-sang along to three covers from the (extremely underrated) My Best Friend’s Wedding soundtrack: “I Say a Little Prayer (For You)” by Diana King, “Wishin’ and Hopin’” by Ani DiFranco, and “Tell Him” by The Exciters.
“Tell Him” was featured on the Ally McBeal official soundtrack, too; I can still remember it was track number nine, because that’s where I’d hurriedly skip to and then hit repeat.
There isn’t an exact playcount for when this happens. Sometimes it’s at listen #7, sometimes listen #25. But at a certain point, the song merges with me. It never becomes white noise exactly. It’s still itself, still a song. The ceaselessness doesn’t feel like monotony. It’s more like it becomes as constant and latent as my internal monologue.
I can find new things to focus on within the song, strip it all the way down to its most basic parts, zero in on the way that one chord sounds or the breath between lyrics I hadn’t noticed before. Or I can just let it play and not really think about it too hard, just let it score the world around me. Looped but never unchanging. It’s like a weighted blanket, enveloping and comforting.
Select songs I’ve looped at various points in life:
- 1999: “Totally Hot” by Olivia Newton-John (this was a vinyl, so I had to lift and move the needle every time to loop it manually)
- 2001: “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett (…from the Shrek soundtrack)
- 2003: “Bring Me To Life” by Evanescence
- 2004: “Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson
- 2008: “Defying Gravity” from Wicked
- 2008: “Seasons of Love” from Rent
- 2010, 2014, 2016: “Not Ready To Make Nice” by the Dixie Chicks
Select songs I’ve looped in the past month:
- “Miracle” by Chvrches
- “Smoking Section” by St. Vincent
- “Mamma Mia” by Lily James
- “Shallow” by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper
- “Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson
- “Smoking Section – piano version” by St. Vincent
- “Hang On Me – piano version” by St. Vincent
- “Young Lover – piano version” by St. Vincent
(I basically can’t fall asleep these days unless Annie Clark is haunting me with her sexy-scary soprano.)
What song do you think you’ve listened to the most times in your life? For me, I think it’s “Hopelessly Devoted To You,” as sung by Olivia Newton-John in Grease. Either that or the hymn we sang at the end of every church service growing up. But that’s one that repeated even if I didn’t want it to.
Standing on a street I’d never been on in Astoria, preoccupied by social anxiety and also by the way the sunset threw a pink haze over everything, I didn’t notice I’d been listening to Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own” repeatedly for at least 20 minutes. Robyn is the kind of artist who loops almost seamlessly. A lot of pop music does. But her brand of emotions-laced dancefloor music is particularly soothing in repetition, an aural tessellation of sad disco.
Repetition is underrated. Listen, repeat, listen, repeat. It’s comforting because it’s the same. It’s comforting because the end isn’t really the end — the beginning’s coming again. And it can still come back anew, somehow sound like something you’ve never heard before. Even though that’s impossible.
I’m also a single song repeater–this was a moodylovely read!
Currently, boygenius’s Me & my Dog
ooo moodylovely is def the vibe i’m always going for with this column so THANK U
Uggghhhhh this album is the SO LOVELY
I fucking love this song, and also Bite the Hand!
Definitely also a single song repeater, sometimes intentionally, sometimes not.
God’s Plan, Drake
Better Now, Post Malone
Grigio Girls, Lady Gaga
Sober, Demi Lovato
“praying” is a v good looping song
As I’m in my honeymoon stage of what’s going to go down at least as my first serious lady relationship, I had Jazzanova’s Now There Is We on repeat.
Now there was business involved in that I might license the instrumental for my podcast, but I couldn’t help but think about my girl and also put it on the special Spotify playlist I created that’s she’s admitted to listening to daily.
I was always more of a play a whole tape over and now, I’ll wake up and play a song or a sequence of one-three well-paired songs together.
Janelle’s opener to the ArchAndroid (after the orchestral and sometimes with the orchestral opening), as well as the openings to the last couple of St. Paul and the Broken Bones records, are like this for me.
My 2018 repeat ones:
Satisfied from Hamilton’s original broadway cast
Corashe by Nathy Peluso
I Like That by Janelle Monáe
Thinkin Bout You by Frank Ocean
Redbone by Childish Gambino
janelle makes very loopable songs. “make me feel” is almost seamless
Me and your Mama is quite an experience.
Yes! I love it but I don’t know that I could listen to it on loop for hours. That song is a whole journey.
I have listened to “I Like That” soooo many times this year.
Life long Serial Song repeater here.
“Crush” Tessa Violet
“Go to town” Doja Cat
anything Kacey Musgraves or hayley kiyoko
From under the cork tree
“Kings of Summer” ayokay and quinn xcii
oh yeah hayley kiyoko’s “wanna be missed” has been in repeat rotation for me
I do this a lot. One time at college, while writing a 15 page paper about prisons due the next day, I listened to a mix of just “Judas” by Lady Gaga and “We’re all to Blame” by Sum 41 for hours and hours…
Currently though, I’ve also just been listening to the Boygenius EP on endless repeat.
Actually, I’ve essentially been listening to “stay down” by boygenius, on repeat. specifically.
Thank you for this article! I’m now stuck trying to think of every song I did this with.
I’ve been listening to Mitski’s “Nobody” and St. Vincent’s “Los Ageless” on repeat for the last two days so I don’t know what’s going on there
masseduction is THE album for Repeat One
Nowadays I need some hope, so I pick up an oldie: A Change Is Gonna Come, particularly Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding and Sam Cooke versions. Again, again and again…
“The ceaselessness doesn’t feel like monotony. It’s more like it becomes as constant and latent as my internal monologue.”
What a perfect description! I’ve found that looping a song can amplify or completely change my mood, as well. Specific songs can comfort while still pushing me into a dark place.
Some of my recent-ish faves:
“Knots,” “Roses,” and “Theories” by Watsky
“Jolene” by the goddess herself, Dolly
“Scott Street” by Phoebe Bridgers
“Night Shift” by Lucy Dacus
“Million Reasons” by Lady Gaga
“Delicate, Petite, & Other Things I’ll Never Be” by Against Me
“Never Going Back Again” by Fleetwood Mac
“NFWMB” by Hozier
“Nazi White Trash” by Leftöver Crack
Award for song most often looped goes to “Radio” by Alkaline Trio.
JOLENE. I’ve listened to it so much on repeat. I’ve also listened to the cover by My Gay Banjo on repeat. So good.
Ooh, I haven’t heard that cover. Thank you! Stoked to go find it.
Also, ‘Never Going Back Again.’ I think I listened to that and ‘Say You Love Me’ for an entire week once,
Quite frankly I don’t even need the song to be physically playing for it to be on endless repeat in my brain.
same. sometimes my mind is a radio and just plays the same song on an endless loop.
I get things stuck in my head ALL THE TIME. I’m not even going to try to list any of them because then I will guaranteed get one stuck. If it’s something I like, it’s not bad. But sometimes it’s…not. The only thing I can do at that point is pick something else and get it deliberately stuck. I don’t actually spend that much time with literal out-loud physical music playing around me, but I’ve nearly always got something in my brain.
I tend to listen to short playlists on repeat instead of single songs, but I’ve noticed myself hitting repeat one more often during the past year.
Most recently it’s been Passacaille in Barcelona, an instrumental piece for cello and piano from the Yuri on Ice soundtrack. It’s peaceful and bit sad, in 3/4 time, and features my two favorite instruments, so there was pretty much no hope for me from the second I first heard it.
Waving to You – Rebecca Sugar
Talia – King Princess
Your Text – Sundial
Wait a Minute – Willow
Rear View – Foti and Thomas Sanders
My My My! – Troye Sivan
Talia is such a sonically-rich song. It was on repeat for me for awhile, too
I’ve definitely found comfort in the repeat one. One song that encapsulates a feeling of a moment, or just helps keep me balanced in an unbalanced world. At times I’ve used:
“I Really Like You” by Carly Rae Jepsen
“Love You to Death” by Type O Negative
“Girls Like Girls” by Haley Kiyoko
“Electric Machine” by Acid King
“All I Wanna Do” by Sheryl Crow
“Pynk” by Janelle Monáe
Today my brain is looping “Paradis Perdus” by Christine and the Queens and “Sky full of Song” by Florence and The Machine whilst I mentally sink into the ocean, strands of algae waving above me.
Wow that’s such a mood. Empathy
I love this.
Tell That Devil by Jill Andrews (first heard on Wynonna Earp, natch, but the whole song is so damn good and so satisfying to sing along with)
Every single Neko Case album has at least one song on it that I will listen to on repeat for a while. Same for Florence + the Machine.
The Chain by Fleetwood Mac was in recent repeat rotation.
Hell’s Bells by Cary Ann Hearst (now of the duo Shovels & Rope).
Freedom by Beyonce.
Basically, if it’s dramatic/melancholy/haunting and also in my vocal range, it’ll likely end up on a loop at some point. But sometimes an upbeat dance song that makes me wanna shake it will end up on a loop, too, like Le1f’s Wut or The Coup’s Magic Clap. Or most things by Missy Elliott.
I’m sitting in a chemistry lecture with “Wanna Be Missed”-Hayley Kiyoko on repeat.
“Undercover” and “Get Like”-Kehlani have been in repeat rotation lately.
“Pynk” and “Screwed”-Janelle Monáe have been in repeat rotation since Dirty Computer dropped last spring.
I’m listening to the boygenius EP on repeat since Friday
My most recent song on repeat is, “Phantoms” by Say Lou Lou.
Their new album just came out last week and I was listening to it on my way home one night and as I got to my house, it wasn’t over yet so I just kept driving. When it was over, I replayed “Phantoms” and I got so caught up in it, I missed my turn for my street on the way back. I think I ended up listening to it three more times before I got home and then several more once I did finally go home.
ah yes love a looping trance
Yeah same hit repeat 1 on iTunes and I’m in it for the emotional response.
I’ve cried to
‘The Letting Go’ by Melissa Etheridge.
Bawled about depression
‘Fire Away’ Chris Stapleton
Really felt hopeless at
‘When I’m gone’ Aaron Lewis
Felt hopeful to
‘Collide’ by Howie Day.
It’s Eclectic music taste all throughout many genres. Any song that connects to my emotional state gets played in a hard loop.
MAYBE WE’RE ALL LOOPY!!
I will loop a song for days on end until I honestly don’t want to hear it anymore, but some part of my brain is still getting satisfaction and so it continues… latest one was Recite Remorse by Waxahatchee. Still not quite over it.
I do this with Taylor, Beyonce, Gospel and boys with a lot of feelings.
Dress by Taylor Swift
Don’t Hurt Yourself by Beyonce
Take Me to the King by Tamela Mann
How To Save A Life by The Fray
I’m Free by Rev. Milton Brunson
7 Years by Lukas Graham
Too Good At Goodbye by Sam Smith
All of Me by John Legend
I need to stop making this list…I could go on and on and on and on.
Some random earlier in life heavy rotations:
Grease Soundtrack (esp. Summer Loving and Greased Lightning)
Really Rosie Soundtrack
Carpenters Greatest Hits (Rainy Days and Mondays 4 EVAH)
Help! – Beatles
Groove is in the Heart- Dee-lite
It’s a Good Day- Peggy Lee
Damn, I Wish I was your lover- Sophie B. Hawkins
Songs o’ the almost-all-queer ladies I’ve been heavy listening in the last few months (I am very susceptible to earworms):
Nameless, Faceless- Courtney Barnett
New York- St. Vincent
Robyn- Dancing on my own
Fuck Was I- Jenny Owen Youngs
Just one of the Guys- Jenny Lewis
Someone Tell the Boys- Samia
Lost on You- LP
Dreams- Brandi Carlile
Suddenly I See- KT Tunstall
Whispering Your Name- Alison Moyet
Make Me Feel- Janelle Monae
I’m Alive- Beth Ditto
Bad at Love- Halsey
Girls- Beatrice Eli
Sorry, Not Sorry- Demi Lovato
Goodbye- Asobi Seksu
All I Want is to Be your Girl- Holly Miranda
I Didn’t Just Kiss Her- Jen Foster
Gold- Ria Mae
Bend- Ria Mae
The Best of It- Whyte Horses (feat. La Roux)
Right Down the Line- Lucius
1950- King Princess
Summertime Sadness- Lana Del Rey
Corrine- Black Honey
Drive- Melissa Ferrick
Rude- Madilyn Bailey, Flula
Who We Are- A.W.
Hellz, yeah! Cognitive dissonance about the moral of the movie be damned! I even loved all of the Side B songs! I don’t remember what I did yesterday, but 35 years later I still have the lyrics of “Freddy My Love” down stone cold.
I was on the verge of a panic attack at work today.
Which I successfully prevented by listening to Vi Hart and Dave Lens’ Scale of The Universe on repeat for the final 2 hours of my day.
Partly because the expanding scope of the universe and the feeling of being a tiny and yet also vast thing in a landscape of unimaginable scope is just so good for taking me out of my emotional spirals, but also partly because Yes Repetition Good.
To be fair I have also spent half a work day listening to an endless loop of Badger Mushroom Snake so maybe I’m just Like That.
Oh I’m a repeat song offender believe me!
Lately on repeat it’s been:
– Lead Me Into The Night by The Cardigans
– Hey Boy in the Pines by Public Domain
– Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me by She & Him
– I’m Moving On by Chyvonne Scott
– Saving Mr. Banks soundtrack (not a song but this soundtrack has been on repeat a lot lately)
“You and me” by Disclosure (Flume remix). I like it a lot.
“Her” by Eery which is already essentially a looped song. Two weeks straight.
Oh my god I’ve done this since I was a child. I actually made a tape of only Annie Lennox’s Walking On Broken Glass for my Walkman.
My repeats (old and current)
Anywhere Is – Enya
Walking on Broken Glass – Annie Lennox
This Years Love – David Grey
My Number – Tegan and Sara
Pulse – Ani Difranco
Are You Out There – Dar Williams
Downtown Train – Tom Waits
Afterlife – Arcade Fire
Rebellion (Lies) – Arcade Fire
Follow Your Arrow – Kacey Musgraves
The Things I Regret – Brandi Carlile
I’m sure there are others but those are what stand out to me.
I had a day this spring where I watched the Walking in Broken Glass video on repeat for several hours. It’s a good repeat 1 song/video.
I do this all the time and my poor college roommate would get so sick of me.
In heavy rotation right now (today) are:
1950 – King Princess
Texas – Mallrat
Some previous ones:
I Can’t Tell You Why – Eagles
Upper West Side – King Princess
Summer Sun – Few Bits
Paris – Fickle Friends
19 in Mexico – Sofi de la Torre
Overlap – Ani DiFranco
Shadow – Wild Nothing
Sick of Losing Soulmates – dodie
Take Me Apart – Kelela
Supermoon – case/lang/veirs
I do a version of this, but instead of repeating the same song I look for as many covers of the song as possible and listen to those. I remember doing this for fun’s We Are Young, ABBA’s Gimme Gimme Gimme, Bronski Beat’s Smalltown Boy, and White Town’s Your Woman.
With some songs I also look for mashups that incorporate it – the Artic Monkey’s Do I Wanna Know was a recent one of these.
I do this at Christmas with “O, Holy Night.” I think my playlist has 12 covers on it. Haha.
In the past three days, I have played Atmosphere – Jerome probably 50-60 times(half that in my head). I tried, but it’s really stuck. I’ve so far head the song today 3 times and stuck in my head half the time. I also have All Hands On The Bad One album by Sleater Kinney on permanent repeat in my car.
okay MAYBE this is out of tone with most of the other comments here but I DO love to loop songs, specifically, “Sorry” by Justin Bieber (Latino Remix)(AND NO I AM NOT SORRY ABOUT IT)
Yes to all of this. If I listen to a song on repeat long enough it starts to acquire color and texture, like drops of water streaming down a pane of glass or the gauzy ribbons of color you sometimes see inside a stone or a shell. There’s nothing quite like listening to piano or orchestral arrangements on public transit late at night to turn the ordinary world into a glittering chasm of weird. I’ve got it narrowed down to a top three:
Oltremare – Ludovico Einaudi
The Sixth Station – Spirited Away soundtrack
Thelma (rulletekst) – Thelma soundtrack
But I also have to mention the piano version of Sia’s Chandelier (if you think you’ve ever felt feelings, that vocal fry will teach you otherwise), and Josef Salvat’s cover of Diamonds. And how about a shout-out to Grease: You’re the One That I Want, covered by Lo-Fang.
how….had i never listened to the piano version
I Hate Myself For Loving You-Joan Jett
Cut and paste this to the comments section of the “What Are We” article.
This is my favorite too!
The song I’ve listened to the most is probably Savage garden’s tears of pearls.
Also probably individually all of the songs on that album at some point.
My current obsession is Låpsley, Operator (DJ Koze’s Extended Disco Version)?
On & On by Erykah Badu
I can listen to this one all day and never get tired of it. It’s mesmerizing…the beat, the sounds, the lyrics! This song never disappoints. And the video is hilarious and awesome all around too!
Too relatable to function a proper response.
I’m not sure what I’ve listened to most in my life – maybe “The Ballad of Mona Lisa” by Panic! at the Disco? – but lately I can’t stop listening to “Baby Britain” by Elliott Smith.