Monday, September 14, 2009

Music Munday: Music Snobbery and Me

Hi all, it's Vanessa from A Journey Through My Music Collection. This is the second time I've contributed to this section of Kelly's blog.

Today I'm going to write about my experience with music snobbery as it has been a pain in my ass from the time I started identifying as a music fan. I've fallen victim to its pressure in the past, but I am currently in the process of rehabilitating myself.

When I first started listening to a lot of music when I was about 8 or 9 years old, I simply loved what I loved because I loved it. I didn't care what other people said because I suppose back then no one around me (aside from my dad) really had any sense of authority in what they were talking about.

Quickly it became apparent that some things were "cool" or "uncool" to listen to. For example, everyone in my early to mid 1990s small community elementary school seemed to think Madonna was totally lame. But for some reason "Cats in the Cradle" as covered by Ugly Kid Joe and Ace of Base were totally cool. So there that was, while I liked some things that were popular (like Ace of Base), I still found a lot of things on my own like Beck, Smashing Pumkins and inexplicably (as it was like 1995 and before the 80s was cool again) a lot of 80s pop like Debbie Gibson and Belinda Carlisle.

In junior high it became unacceptable to think for yourself so my music taste reflected what I thought was ok to listen to. At that point I didn't listen to too much outside of what was played on MuchMusic and at school dances. As I moved towards high school I started to think for myself again. I liked a lot of the latest pop stuff but I also got curious and started to look into things that were vaguely left of the center like The Smiths and Joy Division. This was before I had the internet at home so my discovery of these bands were not tainted by other's opinions and solely driven by an appreciation for the music. Also, by then I learned not to care what anyone at my small town high school thought of my taste and listened to what I liked. God, I miss those days.

University opened my eyes up to a whole new brand the music snobbery-the worst brand. This was not the kind dictated by top 40 charts, the kids at your school who didn't really know much outside of what was popular, or music station's playlists. No. This was scarier. This was the true music snobbery, as dictated by other music fans, many of whom were from cities and had more access to cool things, better music stores and real live concerts. I had my own computer and unlimited access to the internet by then and was ready to "educate" myself and that's what I did.

By the time I had the courage to match wits with the other music sno--I mean experts, I was ready. I knew more, was as snobby as the best of them and made enough out of left field ridiculous claims to fit right in. Yes, I did have the passion to back it up. I truly love music and tend to enjoy stuff that is different than your usual fare but still, I got ridiculous.

As I quickly learned, deep-seated music snobbery wears on you. I felt guilty merely entertaining the thought of purchasing a CD by someone who had a hit song that wasn't deemed "cool" by my fellow snobby cohorts. I assigned cool points to myself for certain things and quickly took them away when I liked the wrong thing. I just started to get sick of this prison I made for myself based on other's opinions. This wasn't punk rock, this was the WORST kind of conformity.

Slowly, during the last while I've let myself enjoy what I've wanted to enjoy. If I hear a cool song on the radio I will go on iTunes and download it(formerly a huge no-no). This doesn't mean that my taste has changed per se, because underneath all those restrictions I've always truly loved the music I've listened to. Now I am just a lot more open to what I will consider. I am not fully cured, sometimes I find myself still getting a little judgey when I don't agree with people but I try to block it out as much as I can.

I don't think anyone should have to listen to anyone else when it comes to the music they like. And no one should ever feel guilty because they think it's not cool. After all, at the end of the day, it's your music and you should enjoy it on your own terms.


  1. I sometimes hide my music for fear of being judged so I hear ya.


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