Music Journo Wakes Up To Discover People Have Lousy Taste

Jan 4th, 2008 // 15 Comments

small_daughtry.jpgDeadlines are a pain. Sometimes you have to write about things of dubious merit, expound on music that you can’t really consider yourself any sort of expert in, or resort to cranky hit pieces. It happens to us all. However, there are some music section cliches that need to be laid to rest permanently, like the one scribe Mike Meyer recently chose as a resort.

I know the feeling. You spend day after day listening to an endless stream of excellent promos for upcoming discs, and then, right there, is a list of the top Billboard albums. Wait, Josh Groban? My mom likes him! Daughtry, how the heck did that guy get popular? It’s a tragedy, for sure.

Looking at Billboard‘s chart of the top-selling albums of 2007, one thought immediately jumps to mind: I think I’m in the wrong line of work. Daughtry? Akon? Fergie? Seriously???
I realize that music writers have a reputation for being elitists, and for the most part, it’s well deserved. It takes a certain level of snobbery and egotism to assume that people might actually want to read your opinions about something as subjective as music. I’m also the first to admit that my musical taste follows a distinctly different path than the mainstream. I certainly didn’t expect to see the bands I love (Ween, Clutch, Atmosphere) to break any sales records, but I guess I always thought that even in music, there existed some basic level of listenability where even the most casual music consumer and the most hoity-toity music snob could find some common ground.
In other words, we all might not always agree on what’s great or even good, but shouldn’t we be able to come to some kind of consensus on what sucks beyond all compare? When an “American Idol” castoff who sounds like a watered-down version of Nickelback (No. 6 on the Billboard chart, for the record) sells more albums in a year than any other artist in any genre, I can’t help feeling like I’m fighting an unwinnable battle. When a song like “My Humps” that literally sounds like it was written by a 12-year-old becomes a breakaway hit, my disdain for the song is overshadowed only by my confusion as to what everyone else finds so appealing about it.

I know, dude, why do we even bother? Did people even read your Coheed & Cambria piece in October? How is that not the biggest selling disc of the year?

Slightly more seriously, is there a music journo gambit more exhausted than calling the public out for having bad taste? (Other than criticizing other journos, of course.) Meyer looks back to a better time, the late ’60s, when popular taste was supposedly at its zenith, but even 1968′s biggest single was “Judy In Disguise” by John Fred & His Playboy Band, with Herb Alpert making chart hits at will. The glory days weren’t so glorious, pal. Sure, there was some great stuff going on, but right next to the Beatles and the Stones were Tommy Roe and Zager & Evans. It happens all the time. Spoon and the Arcade Fire had top ten hits this year, even if they didn’t sustain that success in the manner Daughtry did. You have to take the little victories, I suppose, although if you’re lionizing CCR as what used to be great about music, it might be a good time to find a new line of work*.

Two Cents on the Music Biz [College Times]

* Ed. note: You better not be dissin’ on Creedence, Gibson.

idolator

  1. Camp Tiger Claw

    And what’s the deal with Murder-Suicides??? C’mon people, am I right?

  2. Dead Air ummm Dead Air

    Uh…Earth to America! I mean, God! This is simple stuff, PEOPLE! HEEEELLLLOOOO!!

  3. worldsfair

    funny… as a music fan first, and publicist second… i always felt that MUSIC CRITICS have THE WORST music tastes actually;)

  4. Lucas Jensen

    Yeah, dissing CCR? WTF?

  5. Dan Gibson

    @Lucas Jensen & Jess: I stand by my comment.

  6. Dickdogfood

    I have to question the sincerity of any Ween fan who says something “literally sounds like it was written by a 12-year-old” and means it as a diss.

  7. sparkletone

    I thought if you were lionizing CCR as what used to be great about music, it might be a good time to co-write a column with Stephen King…

  8. Anonymous

    I defy you to fill a room with Carlos Rossi jugs and a record collection of Alpert, and NOT have a party break out.

  9. Anonymous

    @StuntKockSteeev: “Spanish Flea” is the jam! and nothing says Slow Dance/Romance like “This Guy’s in Love With You.”

  10. DudeAsInCool

    There’s nothing wrong with Herb Albert and there never was.

  11. blobby

    John Fogerty is a god among mortals. That is all.

  12. Homage

    That James Bond song Herb Alpert did is the best thing until Chris Cornell came along, man. And I fuckin’ LOVES me some You Know My Name.

  13. revmatty

    @worldsfair: I concur. Music critics have wonderful taste, if you happen to have precisely the same taste they do.

  14. Anonymous

    Hey. Mike here. I can’t really argue too much with your criticism of my blog, except the shot at Creedence. Fogerty has one of the best voices in rock music. Period. If you can’t grasp that, you’re the one who ought to be looking for a different line of work.

    As far as the main point of my blog goes, I guess you’re right. Complaining about the public’s taste in music is not only futile, but a pretty tired subject, now that I think about it. In my defense, I’m still relatively new to this music journalism gig, and I think everyone has to get that kind of stuff off their chest at some point. So sorry if I bored you.

    Anyway, thanks for all the hits on our website. Looks like this particular blog is one of your most-read as well, so I’m glad I could help with that. Keep up the great work and keep reading College Times. I look forward to reading more of your insightful criticism of my sub-par work in the future.

  15. Dan Gibson

    @M-Dub: Don’t worry, as even the most cursory scan of my archives would prove, I have enough sub-par work forever stored in the infinite memory of the internet to cover three or four writers.

    To clarify, I certainly wouldn’t classify your work as “sub-par”; I just find nostalgic sentimentality (even if you replaced CCR with one of my own sacred cows…Big Star, for example) a generally tired gambit, especially for a decade I doubt you were around for. I contend that the mass market generally has crappy taste, but occasionally there are acts that are so undeniably awesome that even the idiots who rock out to Fergie in their Ford Escape have to notice. I have nothing to support this theory, but it seems to make sense.

    Best of luck to you, sir, and the College Times. I really like the crosswords in the back.

Leave A Comment