BATH, England — Why do people go to Glastonbury Music Festival? No, it's not a rhetorical question. Once you take away socializing, camping, sex, drugs, fast food, crystal healing, herbal remedies, face painting and sunburn/mudsliding (all of which can be achieved at a cost of less than $365 elsewhere), we must at least entertain the possibility that they're attracted by the music. And music, in the Glastonbury sense, means pop songs.
Pop songs (generally) stay in one key, are in 4/4 time, last between three and five minutes, are organized into chunks of four or eight bars, have a repeating chorus played two to four times, include the title sung at least three times, and feature short melodic fragments that repeat a lot to help everyone to remember them. Of course, there's a lot of great popular music in the world that breaks these rules, but most of the time, when you see a large mass of people in a mosh pit or field having a communal experience, they're usually experiencing just this - the pop song formula.
The formula, in its current form, arguably arrived with us sometime in the mid to late '60s, although it had been quietly evolving through a quasi-Darwinian process of listener selection for a few hundred years before that. And if Glastonbury 2014 is any indicator, it's still the dominant song species.
Let's test this assertion by looking at the most popular songs by Glastonbury's most popular artists - those headlining on the Pyramid Stage. So we can define Glastonbury's 2014's "favorite" songs as the largest number of Spotify streams by the top three headlining artists, appearing on the Pyramid Stage for each of the three nights.
They are - Arcade Fire/Elbow/Lily Allen, Metallica/Jack White/Robert Plant, Kasabian/The Black Keys/Ed Sheeran. I've amended White and Plant's top songs to account for their previous bands having more plays than their more recent solo work, working on the assumption that these high-profile classics are likely to be a big part of the appeal for fans.