Music Memes

I was riding home and two songs came on the radio, one right after the other: Katy Perry‘s “I Kissed a Girl” and Usher‘s “Love In This Club.”

Two popular songs focusing explicitly on anonymous sexual behaviors were particularly interesting because NPR ran a report that morning on this years CDC Youth Risk Behavior study which is showing slight increases in sexual activity.

I think it would be interesting for some far off researcher to look at correlations between the popularity of themes in songs and the studies tracking those behaviors for populations. I’m particularly interested in subpopulations that are particularly attuned to cultural trends, maybe hipsters and teenagers, and how cultural concepts spread. If recommender systems get particularly good at what they are trying to do, they will hold potentially fascinating results for sociological researchers.

I was reading a dystopian future store where someone figures out a concrete epidemiology for memes and proceeds to rule the world by controlling what everyone believes. I suppose in some ways that’s what the Illuminatus Trilogy is about (which I am wading through currently).

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