new songs

All the new songs compiled daily from Reddit and beyond.

about new songs

As you might have guessed from the imaginitive name, new songs is a simple compilation of all the latest music organised by genre and source. Click a track name and it'll start playing instantly. I built new songs with the intention of having a simple-to-use, minimal, filterable list of new music that people would want to bookmark and use regularly.

I should note (just in case you didn't notice) that not all tracks on this site are actually new songs - some are old songs that have resurfaced and became popular, or songs from a couple of years ago that didn't get noticed, but which are now becoming popular. So maybe this site should be called "popular songs" or "trending songs". That said, there are different lists for different tastes. For example, the VEVO new songs list generally contains tracks that were published within the last few months, whereas the reddit /r/ListenToThis list could regularly contain music from the early 1900s which has resurfaced.

theory of new songs

A little while before making this website, the song "7 Years" by Lukas Graham came out. As soon as I heard that song, I knew it was going to be huge - and I don't think I was alone in that conviction. It's one of those song that is pretty much "objectively" good. For some reason this realisation got me really curious about what makes a new song like this undeniably good. Did Lukas know that he and his band had made a masterpiece before they showed it to the world? How subjective does music have to be? This seeded in me a small fascination with the "pop" music genre, and eventually in the idea of creating things that are "undeniably" good.

This website lists hundreds of songs from all major genres of music that have recently surfaced on the internet. It's called "new songs" but that's not a very accurate name when we get down to it. If it were to list new songs, it'd need to be updated every few minutes, and there'd be dozens of new songs at each update. For a song to be listed here it needs to approach that "objective greatness" that we were just talking about. So how does can song possibly make it the level of global appreciation needed to rise above the thousands of others that are published every week?

Well, let's start with the obvious one. Music agencies and networks can "artificially" pump a song above it's actual value and force it into the spotlight. There, an effect known as "mere-exposure" can actually make people like the song more if they're exposed to it often enough. This "mere-exposure" effect combined with a lot of marketing money is responsible for a huge number of songs becoming popular without actually being "good" songs. The mere-exposure effect isn't necessarily a bad thing on it's own though: many new music genres have spawned thanks to bands and producers experimenting with new sounds which are unpleasant at first, but are actually very pleasant if exposed to them for long enough. Dubstep is a great modern success story of the mere-exposure effect.

So if we can come to enjoy something simply because we've been exposed to it for long enough, does this mean that all music is entirely subjective after all? Luckily, the answer is no. There are certain universal features of songs which are needed for us to derive pleasure from listening to them. The most important of these features is repetition. As bearers of a large neocortex, humans like to spend a lot of their time finding and understanding patterns in the nerve inpulses that are recorded by our senses. We look for and try to understand patterns because it helps us to predict what will happen next - something that is very useful from an evolutionary perspective. And so, in an effort to encourage prediction practice, our brain rewards us when we correctly predict an event. Music is a series of patterns overlayed on one another. It's a prediction practice game for our brain to play. If the patterns are too simple, or there aren't enough layers, then the song sounds childish. If it's too complicated, then it sounds like a mess. In essence, our brain likes audio input that has enough patterns to make it give it just the right amount of predictability - enough to make it a bit of a challenge. After some number of consecutive listens, your brain will begin to "solve" the patterns in the song, and thus will enjoy the song less.

Though they are a hugely important part of what makes music enjoyable, patterns aren't the only factor which determines whether a song become popular and thus qualifies for a list of "new songs" like this one. Another important factor of a new song's popularity is its tendency to allow listener "participation". The "whistle test" is used to detemrine if a song's main melody is simple enough to whistle to. This is one indicator that a song welcomes participation, and thus lends itself to being sung, whistled to, or "getting caught in people's heads". A memorable chorus and ample repetition of lyrics are other indicators of this feature. This feature isn't as universal as the last, but it is applicable in many circumstances.

Understanding the value and attraction of music at such a low level may not seem immediately useful, but this is only because we haven't quite worked out the full low-level formula yet. With neural networks becoming more and more powerful, we could be very close to some huge achievements in the field of automatic music generation without even understanding how it works.

Here's a list of the sites that I'm currently working on: