Music Snobs Need Not Apply

Two things that happened last week: the Grammy Awards and Valentine’s Day. And this is how the combination of those two things led me to write this entry.

I actually almost forgot about Valentine’s Day—I was too busy thinking about the snow that day, and whether I’d have the day off from work, and whether my sister would make it to North Carolina for her swim meet. (She didn’t; she got stuck at Logan for twelve hours before her flight was cancelled and she had to take a train to DC and a bus to Chapel Hill.) And given the second word in my blog title, I had no reason to remember V-Day.

It’s easier being single on Valentine’s Day when you’re not in college and don’t have to see couples everywhere. But it got me thinking about some things with relationships.

I’ve never done online dating (although I’m not ruling it out for some point in the future), but I remember reading this article where the author talked about how being able to sort profiles by the characteristics you want in a partner has influenced people’s choosiness even in dating situations that begin in the 3-D world. She mentioned a friend whose date completely wrote him off upon finding out that he had a roommate. And while it’s good to be picky, casting a guy aside for something like that is ridiculous. There’s no formula for the perfect guy. Sometimes people who seem completely different end up forming long and happy relationships. I think really sometimes all it takes are one or two important, essential things that you have in common to make a relationship work.

Now, I definitely have standards and ideal qualities that I look for. When it comes to intangibles, the guy I end up with has to be kind, patient, happy, a good listener, and a good friend. Ideally, he loves his family, is good with kids, has a beautiful smile, reads a lot, and can sing. And hopefully we agree on politics, religion, and baseball.

But what about the deal-breakers? Most of the things I want in a guy are things that I could, conceivably, live without. But there are a few things on which I’m absolutely inflexible.

I won’t date a guy who smokes, period. I won’t date a guy who does drugs, even pot. I won’t date an alcoholic. I won’t date anyone with any kind of mental issues he hasn’t worked through (which may sound harsh, but I’ve seen firsthand that people who haven’t gotten their shit together are in no way ready for relationships). If he’s a Yankee fan, he better be absolutely perfect in every other way (kidding…I think).

And one more thing. I absolutely refuse to date a music snob.

I’m serious. Music snobs piss me off beyond all reason. I cannot stand people who get self-righteous about their taste in music—which, unfortunately, is true of a lot of people.

I don’t know why it’s just music. People don’t usually think less of you if you watch stupid reality shows or cheesy horror movies. But if you listen to popular music, or anything that doesn’t fit into a music snob’s narrow window of what’s acceptable, there are people who will actually judge you as a person.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I do understand the concept of guilty pleasures. Have you seen the favorite music listed under my blogger profile? I’m well aware that much of it is uncool, like most things about me. But there’s a big difference between good-natured teasing about someone’s musical tastes and actually looking down on someone for that reason.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what separates music snobs from the rest of us, and this is what I came up with. First of all, for the most part, music snobs hate anything popular. If it’s on the radio, it’s crap. If it’s in the top 40, they won’t touch it with the giant poking device from Friends. And if it’s making money, well, God forbid.

Now, to some extent, I can understand this. I don’t like a lot of the music currently dominating the charts, and it’s true that much of pop music is overproduced and overplayed (although if I like a song, I like it no matter how many times I hear it). But popular does not equal evil. The amazing thing is that a lot of times, if an obscure band becomes popular, music snobs will abandon it. That makes absolutely no sense to me. Shouldn’t they be happy that people are listening to music they like? But they’re usually not. They’re upset that the stupid masses are ruining their favorite band, and that the band will become uncool by association, which is such crap. I think that music snobs really revel in being contrary. They’re like people who purposely don’t root for the home team for no reason other than being different.

Another thing about music snobs is that they’re excessively concerned with genre. “Oh, Band A are such posers. They’re so not punk.” “Band B is not indie! Stop calling them that!” Ugh.

Genres have always confused me, particularly genres of rock. I took a quiz once called “What Genre of Rock Are You?” and honestly, I don’t get what distinguishes one genre from another. Why does it even matter? I know that it’s human nature to categorize, but when I listen to a song, I don’t analyze it to death or try to figure out what category to put it in. All I think about is whether I liked the song or not.

Actually, maybe this is my whole issue with music snobs to begin with. I don’t really analyze music—I just think about whether or not I liked it. With a movie or a book, I can usually tell you exactly what I like or don’t like about it. With a song, sometimes I can tell you what it is about it that appeals or doesn’t appeal to me, but more often than not, I can’t. I like it or I don’t. And maybe that’s why it doesn’t make sense to me that some people are so dead-set on what’s good music and what’s not. I often can’t explain why a certain song appeals to me, so it offends me when someone tells me that it shouldn’t.

Finally, music snobs take their opinions as gospel. “So-and-so is the best bassist of all time. Everyone knows that.” “Band X is crap and Band Y are gods.” And they make a big deal over who “started” such and such a music trend. They’re like preschoolers whining, “He started it!” They get all wrapped up in how Band A influenced Band B. Aside from the fact that Band B may very well have improved what Band A started, who really cares? Similarly, who cares who writes the music as long as you like it? I really don’t see how who wrote the music is relevant. Even a lot of artists who write their own music don’t draw from real life, so I don’t get that argument.

The truth is that music snobs are like the popular girls in sixth grade who, if they didn’t like my outfit, would say, “Katie, why are you wearing that?” That may sound a little harsh, but I think it’s true.

The ironic thing about music snobs is that they want you to believe that they love music. But loving music doesn’t, in my opinion, mean constantly insulting it. It means being open to all types of music. It means being open to the ideas that happy, poppy songs can put you in a good mood even if they don’t make you think, that sappy ballads can genuinely move you, and that even if you don’t agree with it, there is a reason why popular music is popular.

I don’t understand why people get so caught up in hating music. There’s too much good music to harp on what you don’t like. Have you seen all the music pages on Myspace? There’s a ton of music out there, and most of it is worth at least one listen. Music snobs can think what they want, but I’ll go on listening to what I like. Because despite what anyone else may think, I do love music.

Or at least, I think I do. And if you think otherwise, go find another date.

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