“Marmite Artists” Make Everyone Pucker Their Lips And Get In The Mood For A Row

noah | October 14, 2008 6:15 am

Supermarket shelves in other parts of the world (and at certain specialty shops in the US) contain a food product called Marmite, which is basically a bread spread made out of yeast extract. I personally tried it when I was 16, after an Australian pen pal sent me a few packets, and my Cool Ranch and Domino’s-trained palate found it absolutely repellent; I haven’t tried it since, because the thought of doing so makes me shiver. But apparently it’s pretty divisive in the UK, to the point that the product name is actually being used by some music-biz insiders to describe certain artists who have a love-’em-or-hate-’em appeal. The musical omnivores at Popjustice explain: “the phrase describes the sort of band or artist which divides opinion as strongly as the disgusting/delicious yeasty food product Marmite. It is not a phrase used to describe how good or bad something is–there’s no value judgment involved.” Popjustice says that Alphabeat, the Scissor Sisters, and Bob Dylan are all “Marmite artists”–although a shitty band being pushed by a publicist to no avail is not, so don’t try it next time, publicists. Confused yet? Well, in keeping with our English-class form, the term is used in context after the jump!

Radio Person 1: “Right then, shall we playlist this new Alphabeat single?” Radio Person 2: “I fucking hate Alphabeat.” Radio Person 1: “I fucking love Alphabeat.” Radio Person 2: “Yeah they’re a classic Marmite band. I suppose a lot of people do fucking love them so even though I do not like them myself I fully understand why they deserve a place on our radio station.” Radio Person 1: “Oh hang on, the new Snow Patrol single’s arrived.” Radio Person 2: “Let’s just play that then.”

So, after describing the whole “marmite” ideal to Dan, we got down to business. What other artists are officially yeasty to a point of being utterly unpalatable to some, yet beloved by others?

danielgibson77: wait, there are people who don’t like alphabeat? mauraatidolator: i KNOW! mauraatidolator: but who else could qualify for this distinction? who is so divisive that they rend internet message boards in two? danielgibson77: my morning jacket? mauraatidolator: hmmm. mauraatidolator: no, they’re just shitty. danielgibson77: people like them, maura mauraatidolator: well they’re wrong. mauraatidolator: vampire weekend! danielgibson77: i think the same shitty argument could be made

See, the Popjustice folks say that “there’s no value judgment involved,” but I dunno, it feels like that could never, ever be the case, if only because the people on the “nay” side may never be convinced that the bands are not just 100% intractably awful. However, after doing some research–which mainly involves looking at the comment threads on past Idolator posts–I think I’ve come up with a handful of Officially Marmite Artists:

Pink Floyd. Fall Out Boy. (Whose new Elvis Costello-aided single is quite good, btw. Oh noes, here come even more fights!) Oasis. (Paging Jay-Z!)

And maybe The Doors? Those posts a few months back sure got a lot of attention. Anyway, add your own!

Marmite Music: A study [Popjustice]