Laura Jane Grace Isn't Going to Ruin Against Me, She's Going to Reinvigorate Them
Morning Glory's Recent Tour Felt Like a Symbolic Farewell to Ezra Kire's Past, Invitation to his Future
Handling Hecklers with MC Chris: An Exploration in Putting Up With or Putting a Stop to Bullshit

Recent Reviews:  To the Moon | Huebrix | Minus the Bear | Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD | Awesomenauts | The Real McKenzies | Breton | Suzanne Ciani

Subscribe to our Podcasts: Sophist Radio | Unoriginal Soundtracks | Shuffled

February 14, 2012

The Secret to Being a Real Music Fan: Like What You Like, No Matter What

So, Bon Iver won "Best New Artist" at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards this Sunday. Did we all get the memo with the assortment of canned responses to give our friends, family, and colleagues in case the subject comes up? I'm going to go with, "Ugh. They aren't even good anymore. I used to like their first album, but the second one was just awful. Can't believe I was a fan."

In reality, I did like their first album more than their second, but that's really just because it holds a special place in my heart. It came along and surprised me with its somber beauty, and I'd venture to say it's one of the best break-up albums ever released. But honestly, I don't have to justify my opinions to you. They're my opinions, and no one else's thoughts or actions -- whether they be yours, a professional music critics, or the judges for the Grammy Awards -- can change them. Well, unless you managed to convince me that Justin Vernon's lyrics were actually about an awesome sandwich he'd made that he never got to enjoy because he dropped it on the floor. Then I probably wouldn't be able to take the album seriously any more.

But aside from that unlikely scenario, I'm probably going to keep feeling the same way I do about Bon Iver. That's the wonderful thing about music. Just because I say something is good, doesn't mean you have to think it's good as well. My opinion does not have to have any effect on your opinion, unless you choose to let it. And a band "going mainstream", "selling out", or "hitting it big" doesn't really factor into this at all.
The only real sellouts.
Seems pretty obvious, but somehow it seems to be the hardest thing for people to understand. Every day music fans alienate themselves from bands they once enjoyed for stupid and pointless reasons, and I wish it would stop. I had a friend once that was notorious for this. If a band signed to a major label, he would say something like, "They're just not the same anymore." It would be impossible to convince him otherwise.

The epiphany that something could still be good even if stupid people also liked it came to me some time in high school. Since then I've made an attempt to give everything a fair shake, no matter how many borderline intolerable people rave about it. Sometimes I slip up and act snobby about something I don't even really know that much about just because it's popular, my wife can attest to that, but I'm always trying my best to avoid pre-judging something I don't know a lot about.

Growing up, The Offspring first got me into music. I didn't really listen to anything before I got into them, and through my obsession with everything Offspring related I found a ton of other great bands from their cover songs and record label. As my tastes slowly crawled into more underground artists, I started to get a little embarrassed by the band that started it all for me. They became a guilty pleasure for a while, until I began sheepishly including them in my "like list" to people whose opinions on music I greatly respected. Some made jokes, but when I defended my position they always said something to the effect of, "That's cool that you like them. Not my thing, but to each his own." Soon I had the confidence to enjoy their music proudly, even if they had some cheesy, over-played radio hits.

Even when Dexter Holland looked like this.
And that pride has stuck with me to this day, about everything I like. Because music inspires passion, and something as simple as being perceived as uncool should never be enough to destroy someone's passion for something. You could probably dig through my Twitterfeed or previous posts and find some example of how I'm a hypocrite for bashing something popular without a good reason. We all do it. We're living in the age of the Internet; when something's popularity can skyrocket over night and people are always trying to be funny and cool as they update us on every trivial part of their life 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Stop worrying about it so much and just enjoy what you like. Share your passion for it with other people, and ask someone else about who their favorite band is and why. You'll be much happier when you stop prominently declaring that you don't know who the winner of a Grammy is to try to sound cool and funny.

Unless you're a fan of Nickelback. Then you should just kill yourself.


Post a Comment