Sunday, 9 April 2017

In Defence of Pop Music

Justin Bieber - In Defence of Pop Music

Harry Styles released his first ever solo single and it's not what anyone expected and also really great, but in other news... some dude/Music Bro is crying about how pop music is ruining the world, again. Sure, music snobbery and general disdain towards pop music is not a new thing at all, but this particular viral Facebook status was so filled with pretentiousness that I wanted to talk rant about it on my blog (i.e. away from the danger of becoming troll fodder).

I don't have to defend my music taste to you, reader, but I will anyway: I listen to all sorts, pop music included, and not just the stuff I've shared on my blog in the past. I like Tame Impala a lot, and I also like Rihanna's version of New Person, Same Old Mistakes a lot. I bobbed my head along to Unknown Mortal Orchestra in one of Liverpool's edgiest gig venues, and I still sport a scar on my knee from the time I danced too enthusiastically to Justin Bieber's bangiest ever banger, Sorry, on a drunken night in Thailand. I've cried to, like, Bon Iver, and I'm willing to bet I've also cried to Taylor Swift at some point. My second year uni bedroom showcased a basically-full-sized poster of Harry Styles and my current one, artwork by Orlando Weeks.

Sometimes while I cook I sing word for word to Bowie; sometimes, also word for word, I rap (lol) along with Kendrick. I have a playlist which holds Mac Demarco, Beach House, Foals and Twin Peaks that also holds Jeremih, The 1975, Ariana Grande and Drake. In case my point has somehow not yet been made: I love One Direction with my whole heart, and sometimes I listen to bands like Talking Heads, Joy Division and Arcade Fire. I know.

Full disclaimer: Shape Of You aside (because it is an undeniable banger and if it doesn't make you want to get up and shake what your mama gave you, are you ok?), Ed Sheeran bores me, so it seems this particular music bro and I agree on something. This is the only concession I'll make, though, because much more potent than my apathy towards the majority of Ed Sheeran's discography is my distaste for people who think they are better than other people. Music bros, i.e. music snobs, in particular are the worst; if you consider your music taste to be the only acceptable music taste, you are a) wrong and b) an obnoxious dickhead.

To be clear, yes, you can enjoy music because it is well-produced or original or technically skilful. But you can also enjoy music simply because it is fun.

Here's a charming snippet from Music Bro's Facebook post:
"Watched a documentary on pop music earlier and what makes a record reach the top. The answer? BLANDNESS. Ordinary. Nothing too crazy, nothing musically exciting and fresh, just bland, beige shite. Like a nice dinner that could've been good but instead it's all mushed up in a fucking blender so some cunt with no fucking teeth at all can eat it."
If you'll allow me to speak proverbially for a second, Music Bro really needs to take some time to untwist his knickers and most importantly to abstract his head from his ass. Not only that, but I think he's got it all wrong.

Let's say, shall we, that Good Music is a meal at a nice restaurant. Sure, the steak was done to perfection and the chips were cooked not once, not twice, but three times. And sure, the house wine is decent. Sure, everything's a little classier, a little better quality, a little bit more put together in a nice restaurant, but just like you wouldn't only ever eat michelin star food (even if you could), you're allowed to listen to music that is not Good Music.

If Good Music is a £40 steak and chips, pop music is a meal enjoyed in front of Netflix; bra off, sweatpants on, hair in a knot on top of your head. Justin Bieber is a Dominos after a long week, with an extra"Big Dip" and an ice cold coke. Little Mix is a portion of cheesy chips at the end of a night out, shoes in hand and taxi on its way. Zara Larsson is a packet of mini eggs enjoyed with a cup of tea and a catch up with your flatmate when she gets home from work. No frills, no pretence, and definitely no silverware: just deliciously satisfying comfort food.

Some people don't like pizza, or chips, or chocolate, and though that hurts my soul (imagine), it's also fine. Because, you know, that's their personal preference. Provided they do not act as though they're above those who do (sup, wellness bloggers?), it's chill. It's all good.

Before I get lost in my own metaphor and start talking about coeliacs and vegans, another except from Music Bro's Facebook rant...
"It's ["music up the top end"] for the soulless. It's for the bloke who's got some rancid fucking quote tattooed across his chest like a dick, who goes to the gym 7 days a week, eats his meals out of wee Tupperware boxes that he prepared the night before and who watches Made In Fucking Chelsea with his orange fucking bird."
Nope. "Music up the top end" is for literally anyone who happens to enjoy literally any of it. A person can have and do all of the above and not like pop music one bit. I can enjoy pop music (and, by the way, wear fake tan and watch MIC) but also like other stuff and do other stuff that doesn't conform to whatever image Music Bro is trying to conjure up.

Ruby Tandoh - In Defence of Pop Music
Both a perfect and irrelevant segway here is this recipe in Ruby Tandoh's cookbook, Flavour, for a dish Harry Styles once recommended to her friend's dad in a Soho restaurant. I include this to demonstrate the magical way that Ruby is able to be the person campaigning about mental health, writing for The Guardian, coming out with her third book and publishing her own mental health zine, as well as this person...
Not just Ruby, either: Alana Massey is 30 and an author and also a Directioner for all the reasons she writes about here with a 1D tattoo. My friend James is a techno/house DJ and also enjoys a good boogie to Zara Larsson. My friend Andy enjoys discovering edgy bands most people have never even heard of but also singing The Chainsmokers as his karaoke song of choice. According to the replies to my tweet on this, people can enjoy metal, classical, alternative, deathcore, punk or hardcore and also enjoy pop.

To me, good music is music that makes me feel something, even if that feeling is just: must. Dance. Pop music is fun. It's literally designed to be fun. It is absolutely okay to like listening to music just because it makes you feel good. Just because it is catchy and simple and fun to sing to.

Or because you listened to it and you enjoyed it.

So, before I press publish and go and listen to Passionfruit for the thousandth time, to every Music Bro I've encountered: your cynicism and pretentiousness is far, far more boring than the "beige" ~mass-produced beats~ you're so angry about. Have a glass of lemonade and pipe right down. Also, re: Music Bro's viral Facebook status, and using his words: "shit floats".

You can follow me on Spotify here (though I haven't published a playlist in a while and am unconvinced by my own past blog playlists at this point)

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