x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

A columnist longs to be able to hear some of his favourite tunes for the first time

Alex Ritman wishes he could wipe out his musical memory bank and listen to some of his favourites for the first time.

In no way, shape or form could I ever claim that I'm in possession of a decent memory. I generally forget names mid-way through an introduction and my mind has a distinctly unhelpful habit of switching off the second I ask for directions when lost. But when it comes to music, my previously dormant grey matter strangely gathers shape and finds sharpness not present elsewhere. Just a bass drum into most songs - assuming I've heard them before - and I've got a knack of being able to name the title.

It's a cool party trick for car journeys, but sometimes I just wish this ability would go away and that I could forget that I'd ever listened to certain pieces of music before. It's not because I've heard Nickelback, the Black Eyed Peas, or any other musical effluence a few too many times and need to flush such junk from the dark recesses of my brain (although that would be please me greatly), but because there's nothing quite like hearing something good for the first time.

For example, Daft Punk's Discovery - despite now passing its 10th anniversary and being officially "retro" - is still one of my favourite albums around, but I find it impossible to listen it to for the simple reason that the first six tracks have been played to death so much even my speakers would refuse another robotic blast. How happy I'd be if I could to erase all knowledge of the album in my head so that the next listen would enable me to appreciate Digital Love's synths or the vocoders of Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger as if they were new.

Surely we're at the stage of technological advancement where someone can create a clever Men in Black-style device that could erase certain chunks of pre-selected memory. Perhaps this new invention could be a handy iPhone app - a flashing light you look into, press a button and have a CD's worth of music zapped from your mind. Imagine being able to listen to Sgt Peppers or OK Computer for the first time, or to hear the bassline of Billy Jean as if you hadn't embarrassingly danced to it a thousand times before.

Sure, it might seem a bit odd when you burst into the office the next day screaming about a brilliant new band you've just heard, but I think the weird looks and eventual social exclusion would be worth it. Come on app makers, stop messing about with angry feathery types and get going.