07 August 2009

Guilty Pleasures

I'm at the college library, steaming hot, downloading a Britney Spears song ("Radar"), and thinking about guilty pleasures. Unfortunately I have a load of friends who believe music should be judged upon certain criteria and if a song or artist doesn't live up to these "rules", it is inappropriate to like said artist.

I don't understand that rationale whatsoever. Why would it ever be wrong to like an artist whose music you find enjoyable? It makes absolutely no sense in any context I can think of.

To play devil's advocate here, I do find myself prefacing certain musical tastes I have as if I must prepare someone to hear a dreaded name or defend a song I'm secretly obsessed with but if it came down to it, I would gladly give away all of my guilty pleasure secrets and admit that I wouldn't know to be ashamed of them if someone hadn't told me.

When I'm in the car and choosing my own music with other people, very often I will listen to Beyonce, Jay-Z, Common, John Mayer, etc. These are the worst names I can think of - but why is that bad? Because they're not on an independent label? Because they don't sound depressed or overly experimental? Because there's a hook and a beat? What is so wrong with that?

I cannot stand the secret cry for approval that some people seek with musical taste that is not their own. I have a friend who has mentioned he likes The Ting Tings. Would he tell anyone but me? Probably not. Maybe because they're not Nirvana, The Meat Puppets, or Captain Beefheart. Sorry but Nirvana is just as commercialized as Beyonce and The Meat Puppets sound just like a lot of other bands as much as John Mayer sounds like some other singer/songwriters. If you're being critical you can find flaws and failures in every musical pursuit any artist on earth has taken on - why worry though? Music for me is definitely not about finding the coolest thing to like to impress other people or getting all snooty about some band your friend on acid mentioned was hip - at the end of the day it's just you and the headphones and no one else around - what makes you happy then? Would you let someone pick out your clothes for you or tell you what to eat? So why do you let them tell you what to listen to?

It's a cause for concern.

Love what you listen to, no matter what you have to "listen" to people say about it.

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