For almost a year now, I've been writing about music on this blog. Wacky little observations from the viewpoint of a 25-year industry veteran and independent record store owner.
Mostly, I ramble poetic (hopefully) about how much I love music. How much it means to me and how it has weaved its way into every facet of my life. I've been sharing my favorite albums, artists, and memories in this regard.
However, like most things in life, there is a duality to my love of music. A darker side. The inevitable result of a long-term relationship. It's time I talked about it.
So join me this week as I share Five Things I Hate About Music.
Once I Started, It Just Poured Out
The whole idea for the article started last week when I was trying out new music. I pulled out the latest Booker T. album, and I noticed that it fell into one of my pet peeve categories: The duets album.
"God, I hate duets albums," I said to myself.
But I didn't always hate them. I've grown to hate them. The more that worthless record labels released, the more they wore on me. Like a head-case girlfriend from hell.
"Hmmm," said the column-writing part of my brain, "there's an idea. I wonder in what other ways I am a music hater?"
My brain shifted into gear, and as if I were some hypnotized therapy patient, the orneriness just started to flow. I was writing them down so fast I couldn't keep up. I had to divide all my annoyances into separate lists.
I might have to write a book.
For now, we'll start with five. Call it a little Record Store Geek therapy, if you will.
Five Things That Bug Me About Music
Although I am finding this exercise cathartic, let's just say these things bug me. "Hate" is such an ugly word. Here we go.
5. Super Bowl Halftime Shows.
This isn't about Bruno Mars. I just can't handle Super Bowl shows period.
I'm almost as big a sports fan as I am a music fan, and I don't need to see the two mixed together. Rock 'n' roll was not meant to be squeezed into a 15-minute break between the country's greatest sporting event.
This is exponentially true with the generally legendary artists that have been playing the Super Bowl in recent years. You can't condense a legend like McCartney or Petty to three or four songs and call it anything but a travesty. Bruno, Beyoncé, Black-Eyed Peas, sure. The Stones, no.
In my opinion, a concert should be a "get into it" event -- filled with real fans -- that provide no less than two hours of the artist's songs (although I've seen plenty of sorry dogs do only an hour and a half). You can't throw a stage on the field, tell 300 kids to surround it and scream, and expect authenticity.
4. Obvious Songs
Every once in a blue moon, I'll switch over to KSLX in the car. I go nuts in about 25 minutes because every song they play is so damn obvious. One classic rock hit after the next. Holy shit, is there any way you could play "The Game" or "Dragon Attack" instead of "Another One Bites the Dust?" How 'bout "No More, No More" instead of "Dream On"?'
It's not just KSLX. Pandora sucks, too. Same with most of the digital TV stations (although I did find one called 8-Tracks the other day that showed some depth).
Same goes for almost anywhere I hear music in public. Ballgames, shopping centers, bars, you name it. You can almost count on hearing the most overplayed songs by whatever group, or era, or genre the event's organizers have decided to use.
You'd think that with all the expanded access we have to music in the digital era, I would start finding more situations where I'm pleasantly surprised at the diversity of the music I'm hearing. Not so much. More like 100 new outlets playing the same 1,000 tired songs.
3. Talent Shows
Last week, my mom called me for about the 16th time and suggested that I should "check out "American Idol" because she "really thought I'd appreciate it." (I'm not joking, it really has been that many times. No, she's not senile, she's just relentless)
As if it would somehow sink through this time, I explained to her that I thought that network TV talent shows, while not devoid of talent, were the lowest common denominator of music. Lower than just the mainstream, Mom . . . It's a contest full of mainstream wannabes.
The one time that Mom cornered me at her house and made me watch American Idol, the whole show was one toad after another butchering Elton tunes. I'm not an elitist, but I've got to draw the line somewhere. Listening to wannabe mainstreamers do bad covers of obvious songs is where that line goes. If I don't want to hear Elton John sing "Your Song" again (see #4), I sure don't want to hear little Mandy Lynn Humphrey do it.
2. Poseur Fans
I didn't realize this would be a Super Bowl-driven list when I started, but when I think poseur fans, one of the first things I think of is those halftime "fans" at the Super Bowl.
I find myself wondering how those people get to be the ready-made crowd, and how many of them really give a shit about The Who or Springsteen (or even Bruno), and how many just want to be part of the awesome experience. Sure, there's some kids that are singing along, but there's plenty more that look like they are reading an "applause" sign.
I can see why they'd do it, but it still annoys me.
I think if you are going to call yourself a fan of a band, you should have a pretty decent knowledge of that artist's work. Maybe a favorite album or even a top five.
One thing I like to do if someone claims fandom is start asking questions. It's amazing the answers I'll get, especially with younger pups.
"Oh, you're a Zeppelin fan? What's your favorite album?"
"Uh, I really don't know the albums. I just downloaded some songs."
Even if you let said poseur off the hook on the albums, further song questioning will inevitably reveal that the self-proclaimed fan (is there any other kind?) loves "Stairway to Heaven" but has no clue about "Trampled Under Foot" or "Achilles' Last Stand".
If that's the way you want to listen, okay, however the art pleases you. Just don't call yourself a real fan.
1. Advertising Sell-Outs
Maybe I'm just Super Bowl feisty because I'm a Broncos fan, but the first example I thought of as it pertains to this particular peeve was that fuckin' goofy ad that Bob Dylan did during the Super Bowl.
(Like most of the multimillion-dollar ads, it failed to achieve retention with this particular target market member, but I think it was a car company.)
Anyway, when I saw it, I just shook my head. Again. For about the zillionth time, a cool artist or a great song was being used to sell shit, and guess what, it still bugs the shit out of me.
How much money do you need, Bob?
Yes, I realize it's a battle that's long been lost. Yes, I know money talks. Yes, I know Dylan has long been a pimp (see Victoria's Secret).
But I don't like it. I'll never like it.
Of course, that's pretty much the case with all the things on this list.
But that's okay, because for every five things I hate about music, there are a hundred things I love.
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Thanks for reading. Have a great week.