Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Do You Even Like Music #1

A few months past I was riding shotgun in my friend's truck to the local shop to pick up some alcohol for the upcoming night's festivities (I think we were celebrating the fact that it was Friday evening); the trip was a short one so we skipped the ipod playlist and opted for standard clear channel radio to soundtrack our beer run. We caught the tail end of some interchangeable pop confection before LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" began flooding out of the speakers. My friend started bobbing his head in active enjoyment while I involuntarily sneered. Noticing my obvious discomfort I got a roll of the eyes from the driver seat, "You just don't like it because it's mainstream".

And there it was: the go to accusation against music nerds everywhere.

I don't consider myself a music snob and I'm not going to write something off because it's in the clear channel rotation, at least not initially; I held some affection for Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks" but the industry-wide mandate to play it every third song for the last six months has severely soured our relationship. Radio has issued a similar extended quota to "Party Rock Anthem" but over exposure isn't to blame for my lack of enthusiasm for LMFAO; excepting this my friend proposed it was because I "read too much into this type of music. This music is for dumb fun, its not meant to be dissected". This maybe true, I may analyze music a bit more than the average listener but that is because I'm fascinated by what separates a song I genuinely like and one I can't stand. Sometimes its something easy like a singer's voice or the difference between a drum machine and a real person behind the skins, but more often than not the criteria I follow isn't so easily defined even within my own head. I directed my accuser's attention to exhibit B: I like plenty of songs that are conceptually and lyrically "ankle deep". I still listen to CCS's entire self titled album with tracks like "Art Bitch" and "Meeting Paris Hilton" and perhaps even stronger evidence for my case: my inexplicable affection for Katy Perry's "E.T.".

I've tried to follow the trail of my enjoyment for this song down the rabbit hole, but every time I do I end up getting lost. I even listened to "E.T." along with the four other number one singles from Katy Perry's Teenage Dream in an attempt to suss-out the reason her hit average by my ear is only one-in-five. What did my search uncover? Nothing I could take to court. It wasn't the Kanye West feature, I like "E.T." despite his awful verse; the music is more spacey and electronic so it stands out when compared to the other four singles but I don't equate different with better otherwise I might like Animal Collective.

When I think of "Party Rock Anthem" and the five (so far) number one singles from Teenage Dream sand "E.T." the same word consistantly accompanies the music: obnoxious. Obnoxious like the kid who cheated on the big test but still brags about his "A-".

"Whatever. Change the channel then," my friend offered emphasizing his waning patience with my criticizing his music for the duration of the short trip. I crossed my arms in a mocking pout and let the music play on and he didn't say it but I'm sure at that point we were thinking the same thing: obnoxious.

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