BLEGHmatics

But Sam, we are glad that you did.

(“Blegh” will be referred to as blegh for brevity’s sake as I truly cannot stand typing out all those quotation marks)

One of my favorite aspects of music is how intertwined math and numbers are within the art form. Nearly the entirety of modern music has time signatures and rhythms that are based on basic adding and counting principles. We even track the success of musical artists and songs by how many streams they get on Spotify or how many FM radio plays, CD/Vinyl, and merchandise sales they obtain. But there are some aspects of music that we cannot quantify in importance. For instance, why are some songs inherently more popular than others or how can a song blow up on TikTok gaining instant popularity from just a 15-second soundbite. This leads to the question of wondering if there are other aspects of music that we can quantify to give us more insight into song popularity. Maybe memes can play a part in that……

Architects are a metalcore band from Brighton England that has been releasing music since 2005. With over 1.6 million monthly listeners on Spotify, they have cemented themselves as one of the most prolific and popular bands within the genre. The vocalist of Architects, Sam Carter, is infamous for his “Blegh” noise that he often would shout/scream before a breakdown. Within the metalcore scene, it became a massive meme that in some aspects has dwarfed the popularity of the band. “Blegh” became synonymous with Architects and has since been beaten to a pulp as a meme. In the tweet, even Sam makes it very apparent that he hates the fact that he made “that stupid noise”. But maybe the blegh made them even more famous and grew their popularity through an overused meme. Out of boredom one day I decided to try and sort it out; what is the relationship between the blegh and Architects’ song popularity and can we pinpoint the “ultimate” Architects song?

The descent into madness followed as I went down a dark path that lead to r/metalcore…the metalcore subreddit. I asked a simple question for the visitors of the subreddit, “What is your favorite Architects song?”. Much to my surprise, I got a fair amount of answers. Around 300 people responded giving me a fair amount of data to work with. My core objective from that survey was to try and figure out what seemed to be the popular songs in their discography and if the number of bleghs in a song was indeed a factor in choosing a favorite song. I then compiled a list of every Architects’ song in an excel sheet as well as information regarding the song such as the amount of Spotify plays, length of the song, and of course the number of bleghs each song had. From this point I was set, I had the data I needed, and it was now time to see the impact of bleghs.

Data

Favorite Song

“Gone With The Wind” off their 2016 critically acclaimed album All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us was by far the favorite song out of those who responded to the survey. A song that entails the emotions that guitarist Tom Searle felt during his struggle with cancer and the inevitability of his passing. 48 respondents (16.2% of all respondents) stated that “Gone With The Wind” was their favorite song which is more than double the amount of any other song in their discography. This number is also rather incredible when taken into account how much music the band has released over the past 17 years. Just including songs released on their studio albums, (no bonus tracks or one-off singles), it totals 102. Safe to say “Gone With The Wind” is a good benchmark song to take a further look at later on.

Favorite Songs Distributed

All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us (2016) is the most popular album from the survey with 116 people saying that their favorite Architects’ song is from this particular album. Between “Nihilist”, “Memento Mori” and the previously mentioned “Gone With The Wind”, there exists a large percentage of fan favorites. The next two most popular albums according to the survey are Holy Hell (2018) and Lost Forever // Lost Together (2014). 2014–2018 seems to be the favorite era of the band according to the metalcore subreddit, with 83.4% of respondents saying their favorite songs came from these three albums. These three albums also happen to contain the most bleghs from vocalist Sam Carter. All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us leads the pack at 8 bleghs, whereas Lost Forever // Lost Together and Holy Hell trail at 7 and 4 respectively. This might suggest that bleghs do in fact have some correlation with Architects’ most popular music, but let us take an even deeper dive.

Correlation

Believe it or not, bleghs and songs that were chosen as a survey participant’s favorite are slightly correlated at an R-value of .49 which indicates a moderate positive correlation. If a song has a blegh in it, it is more likely to be a favorite of the survey participant. However, bleghs and Spotify plays are not as correlated with an R-value of .35 which does indicate some relationship but not to the tune as the favorite song to blegh relationship. This leads to the question of wondering why there is this slight discrepancy between Spotify plays and hardcore Architects’ enthusiasts. I honestly believe there is a pretty simple answer.

Architects’ latest album For Those Who Wish To Exist, brought the band the most commercial success they have ever had. With several singles built for Sirius XM Radio and your local rock station, it was a fairly large departure from their previous sound. Despite gaining lots of commercial success, more intense fans of their music preferred the sound of their previous albums. Notably, there were no bleghs on the album and more melodic aspects permeated the record compared to the ferocious riffing they were otherwise known for. Being that I took the survey from a subreddit that was very familiar with Architects before the stark change in sound, it would make sense that they prefer the older material and all of the bleghs that come with it. Less than 5% of survey respondents said that their favorite song came off of For Those Who Wish To Exist.

So far the Spotify and survey data have been able to pinpoint a couple of things. First off, “Gone With The Wind” seems to be their most popular song amongst the more ferocious fans, and All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us seems to be the album that produced the highest amount of favorite songs. There is also a run of albums from 2014 to 2018 that seems to be the most popular era for the band coinciding with the most amount of bleghs used over that timeframe as well. Time to use this information to dissect and identify the “ultimate” Architects’ song.

Ultimate Song Criteria

  1. Has to have a blegh in it.
  2. Has to be from these three albums: Lost Forever // Lost Together (2014), All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us (2016), or Holy Hell (2018).
  3. Has to have over 10,000,000 million plays on Spotify and at least 10 people that responded to the survey say it was their favorite song (roughly 3.5%).
  4. Has to be between 3:20 and 4:20 in length (The average Architects song is a hair over 3:50).

Now that we have this settled, let’s look at the candidates and crown the “ultimate” song.

From the first criterion, we can eliminate a fair amount of songs. Fan favorites such as “Memento Mori” and arguably the band’s most famous song “Doomsday” are unfortunately tossed aside as they have no bleghs. The second criterion further cuts this list of possible songs as they have to be a part of their 2014 through 2018 run. The next criterion cuts the list down to make sure that the songs are popular and recognizable enough to most fans of the band and the last criterion stabilizes the song choices so we are looking at an “average” song rather than an 8-minute long epic such as “Memento Mori”. This leaves us with the following song possibilities...

From Lost Together // Lost Forever we have “Gravedigger”, “Nihilist”, and “Broken Cross”. All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us only has “Gone With The Wind” and Holy Hell has “Hereafter” and “Royal Beggars”. These six songs represent the biggest archetypes of what an Architects song sounds like. Crowning the “ultimate” Architects song can be done with any of these songs truthfully as they mathematically represent the best of what they are known for. But, just for my personal taste, I think “Naysayer” is my favorite of the bunch.

Outlook

From looking into all the data it became quite apparent that no matter how much of a meme Sam Carter’s “blegh” is, it is an important aspect of their sound and is one of the defining factors that contribute to their popularity. Oftentimes, we see this factor in rap with artists such as Playboi Carti, Young Thug, and Gunna. These guys rose up in internet circles and sometimes exploded in popularity largely in parts to memes. We even see this in the hardcore scene with Knocked Loose and the popularity that their infamous “Arf Arf” breakdown in “Counting Worms” brought them. Currently, it is their most popular song on Spotify despite it being released in 2016 off of their debut album. Inherently memes do not truly bring about fame but regardless, there needs to be a distinct sound associated with a meme to bring about popularity from both a more general audience and a more intense fanbase.

An interesting aspect to note from the data is the explosion of popularity Architects gained after the first blegh was used. First used in their 2012 album Daybreaker from the song “These Colours Don’t Run”, they have grown extensively in popularity from this album on. Their previous four records are considerably less popular by looking at pretty much every metric. A meme coinciding with impressive musicianship and songwriting has taken a smaller metalcore band to the absolute peak of metal music.

Although they will not be using the blegh any longer, it left a massive impact on metalcore and metal music as a whole. We even see the full extent of insanity being unleashed by vocalists in the scene making the most abhorrent and terrifying noises known to man and creating new memes (see Will Ramos of Lorna Shore or Alex Terrible of Slaughter To Prevail). A meme provides a baseline of temporary popularity but needs to be juxtaposed with actual good music as well to stay relevant. So Sam, thank you for making that noise as it really contributed to my experience and exposure to your band.

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3rd Quarter Analytics

3rd Quarter Analytics

Musings on Sports Analytics and whatever else