3It Makes You Stronger
It's no secret that many people prefer to listen to music when they work out. But music doesn't just make physical activity more pleasant -- it actually makes our physical performance measurably better. When listening to music, people are able to hold heavy weights for longer than when they're standing in silence. They can also complete sprints in smaller amounts of time and are even able to reduce their oxygen intake.
This is why Rocky does all of his training in musical montages.
How the hell does music do that?
Similar to the time-perception effect we referenced above, one element is just plain old distraction. Obviously, if your mind is listening to music, it's not thinking about how much your legs hurt or how much longer you've got to run before the treadmill makes that final beeping noise. But there's much more to it than that.
First, there's synchronicity. When you match your movements to a steady musical tempo, you spend less time and effort on the inefficient slowing down and speeding up that happens when you're going by your own rhythm. Music also increases the incidence of "flow" states -- states of meditation-like calm in which everything works right for an athlete and that is strongly linked to enhanced performance.
It's all in the music.
Music can even make you feel less pain. Patients listening to music after surgery need less sedatives, report less pain and have lower blood pressure. As if that's not impressive enough, doctors have found that specially selected melodic music dramatically reduces stress in patients during unsedated brain surgery. In some cases, music caused patients to relax so much that many of them fell into a deep sleep, while people sliced into their exposed brains with fucking scalpels.
And even if you're lucky enough to be asleep during surgery, there's a good chance the doctors working on you are listening to music, since most surgeons believe it improves their performance, too. So the next time you're about to go under a general anesthetic, consider the fact that the guy with the scalpel might soon be timing his incisions to Whitesnake.
"Here I go again on my own, sawing through the whitest bones I've ever knooown ..."
2It Changes Your Drinking Habits
Did you ever wake up in the back of a taxi after a long night of tossing down cognac and prune juice and wonder how your pants got replaced by a thick but clumsily applied coat of colorful body paint? Well, now there's something to blame it on besides your bad childhood: music.
What they play in the bar doesn't just affect how much you drink, but what you drink.
Nothing goes with Lady Gaga like cheap, awful tequila.
How the hell does music do that?
Did you know you can make a person buy more expensive wine just by playing classical music? Experiments prove it. It makes people feel like they're in a wine commercial or in a movie depicting refined, snooty rich people. OK, that one sort of makes sense -- we doubt anyone ever drank Wild Irish Rose while listening to Vivaldi.
But in another blind study, different types of music playing in the background caused drinkers to change how they'd described the drinks they already had. Laid-back music led people to rate drinks as "mellow," and upbeat music resulted in more people calling their drinks "refreshing." Even stranger, in another study researchers placed German and French wines in supermarkets, with small flags next to each display so customers could tell which countries they came from. They then played some unobtrusive international music in the background. When German music was played, the percentage of German sales rose, and vice versa.
Listening to this would inspire us to drink, too.
This wasn't because customers thought to themselves, Ah! Germany! I will celebrate the Fatherland with some nice wine! Questionnaires showed that customers couldn't recall what type of music was playing and thought they'd chosen a particular wine simply because they'd felt like it.
The people selling you the drinks know all of this stuff -- or at least, the successful ones do. We've pointed out before that bars and nightclubs often play fast music to increase alcohol-based profit. But other establishments, particularly upscale restaurants, prefer slow, relaxing music, which, believe it or not, can also make you drink more. The tempo of music is linked to your body's arousal level, or the "speed" at which your nervous system operates. Fast music heightens arousal (heh), so patrons will do everything more quickly, including eating and drinking and leaving their infant by the salad bar. Which is good for a restaurant owner if he's just concerned with getting you out the door so he can serve more (and presumably better) people.
"Here's the check. You have exactly seven minutes to fuck off."
On the other hand, slower music means that you eat at a more leisurely pace. Maybe you'll even stay to chat with your companions after you're done with your meal. All this time passing means you're likely to buy more drinks every time the waiter comes around to ask, and at a restaurant that's charging $70 a bottle, that makes up for any lost table space.
Some restaurants go as far as to purchase a personalized selection of songs specially designed by "sound branding" companies, which select songs based on whatever tempo or atmosphere the restaurant is aiming to achieve.
Italian goes down better with GWAR.