Is there anything more subjective than musical taste? Every single person has their own conception of what “good” music is. Over reading week, a group of us had the iPod and speakers going, and regardless of the song, someone was requesting to “get this shit off.” I’m not trying to get all Bordieu-esque and attempt to qualify why our tastes are formed in particular ways, but it dawned on me that music taste is extremely divergent in ways little else is.
Now, this becomes a source of great frustration for music fans (such as myself) who pride themselves in their music knowledge. For the real music fan, it is not only enough to have a wide scope, to understand different genres and sound forms. It is is vital that all non-music fans appreciate the real music fan. After all, the doctor is applauded for her mastery of a particular science. The historian is appreciated for her abilities in synthesis and analysis. The architect is admired for her eye in construction and design. So why the fuck am I not revered for my developed aesthetic tastes?
When I’m at the bar, and I tell you, “This new LCD Soundsystem song is fucking epic,” you should fucking listen. And when I further qualify it by saying, “Their track ‘Someone Great’ poignantly evokes the tone of a generation’s malaise due to aging and death,” you should thank me for my in-depth consideration rather than tell me that you “like this one better,” referring to “Crash Into Me.”
I find myself empathizing with the futile efforts of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They think (or maybe they actually fucking know) that they have found the pious path to the golden gates of heaven. And all they are trying to do is spread that gospel to us heathens. Of course, it doesn’t work. We scoff and we mock them for their over-zealous antics. But there’s no doubt that they believe God’s reign is going to be rough for the pagans. When they leave our doorstep, I’m guessing they sigh, genuinely believing we’re doomed, but all they can really do is move onto the next house.
All I’m trying to do is save you from music hell. When I say Jack Johnson is vapid, this has been a carefully crafted and calculated thought. When I say that R. Kelly’s genius lies in his bona fide insanity, I’m not being ironic. And when I say Panic! At the Disco suck, I mean it with the utmost sincerity: they fucking suck.
So as iterated to the unreceptive girl I was talking to in Benelux last Wednesday, LCD Soundsystem’s Sound of Silver was the best record of last year; sonically-catalytic dance-rock that becomes more and more relevant as we all advance in our twenties. Kanye West is one of hip-hop’s best producers, but meticulous production techniques don’t make Graduation close to his prior albums. Timbaland is a sonic alchemist, which is why every musician wants him. Feist is great – biscotti rock – but still great. John Mayer is an unbelievable guitarist, but one of the most embarrassing artists to have to admit to listening to. And anyone who talks shit about Justin Timberlake because he was in N*SYNC needs to gets over the late 1990s.
So I implore you, give me the respect you’d accord a priest conducting a sermon to a cathedral of eager devotees, or a surgeon instructing his team where to make the next incision. Next time I rise up to speak on the recent ascension of electrofunk and its effect on our lives, I implore you to listen with a keen ear.
Mike Cranston is the way and the light.