Ok, I have to admit something to all of you. For the last week I've been obsessively listening to Vanessa Carlton's "White Houses." Five days ago, my roommate Tim and I were driving around New York aimlessly when the song came on the radio. We looked at each other "Oh man" this song again." I said.
"Yeah," said Tim, "I mean" it's, like, kinda good, I guess."
"Oh definitely. I mean, I can listen to it without killing myself."
"Me too" I dunno, it's kinda catchy."
"For sure" ok" I have a confession" I really, really like this song." Tim was taken aback.
"Are you serious?" he said, "So do I. This song is fucking awesome." That being established, we proceeded to let ourselves sing along at top volume. I played steering wheel drums while Tim focuses on dashboard piano. It was magical. When we got home, we both downloaded the song and I have been smitten ever since.
This brings up a curious subject: musical masking. Don't try to deny that you have a secret CD somewhere in the car, perhaps hidden in your glovebox or mislabeled in your CD book, that you never let your friends hear. You may love punk or hip hop, but when no one's around, you also love "Sweet Caroline." You can't fool me.
When you drive your friends home, it's always the same thing.
"Ok guys, I'll call ya tomorrow. What? I can't hear you, let me turn this Led Zepplin Cd down on my car stereo. Ok, bye. I'm gonna turn it back up until I'm out of earshot. Later!" As soon as you get out on those back roads or on the highway, you pop that Zep out and pop in the Ashlee Simpson. Why do we hide these habits from the outside world?
There are many reasons. One being that you would never hear the end of it if your friends caught you rocking out to the "Rent" soundtrack. They would call you derogatory names even though they probably have a burned Hillary Duff CD labeled "70's Rock" somewhere in their car. So why do they make you feel insecure about your musical taste if they have a secret CD too?
The real culprits behind our shame of catchy music are music snobs. We all have a friend that knows everything about music" except how to play it. They know about all the cool bands before they are famous. And then when they get famous, they disown them and say that "their old stuff was soooo much better." They like crappy indy bands that never made it and somehow convince us that those bands are the real important, talented ones. They listen to Swedish people screaming into a mic over the sounds of car accidents and say that "it is so" forward." Maybe nobody has ever done that before, but that doesn't make it enjoyable to listen to. I could record a CD of myself on the toilet and these kids would probably hail me as the next Hendrix. We listen to them because their archives of musical knowledge far surpass ours and that is intimidating. They make us feel like idiots for liking popular music or watching MTV.
Well, I, for one, am taking a stand. I'm sick of being shamed and bullied by music snobs. I may not know about an indy band out of Topeka called The Farts and how "they probably had more influence on modern rock than The Beatles," but I know how to play music" which is more than they can say. I like "corny" music. I like catchy songs. Why? Because they're good, that's why. Have these people ever wondered why famous bands are famous? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that they write songs a lot of people like? Of course, there a lot of shit bands out there that don't write their own songs and don't sing in concert (see: Ashlee Simpson, SNL appearance), but they still recorded a catchy song, didn't they? These kids act as if any band that got a record contract somehow "sold out." Obviously, they have never been in a band. If they had, they would know that the only reason kids start bands is to get girls, money, and fame. And you're a fool if you think otherwise.
The bottom line is music is about taste; there is no way to classify something as good or bad. The music snobs fail to see this and foist their opinions on everyone else. Well, you know what? I'm going to sit here and listen to Vanessa Carlton and then maybe I'll listen to Queen or Men At Work and I will enjoy it. Now, if you'll excuse me, Ms. Carlton is calling my name.