In my quest for musical fulfillment, I have recently been trying to venture outside my comfort zone. I want to find out why people get so hyped up about new music. For me, music has always been a fluid thing, whereby I can learn to like a song after repeated exposure. I can get excited about something briefly before finding the thought of it absolutely repulsive (Tom Odell I’m looking at you). Alternatively, I can absolutely hate something and after a while, my circumstances change and I realise, wow I can relate to that. Or, wow, that sound fits in with the kind of music I’m jamming to at the moment.
My taste is like one of those squiggly graphs, up and down in waves of intense hatred and wild obsession. That’s why, when presented with a new artist, I wait for a little bit before jumping into blazing ardour/bitter dislike. The music industry doesn’t do this, however. For them, things move as quickly as it took for Miley Cyrus to chop off her PG-13 locks. They must decide whether something’s in or out as soon as an album is released. After all, they have nominations to give out, agendas to promote, festivals to curate. They don’t have the kind of time I have to sit back and relax a bit. To let something get under your skin so you can decide if it’s a disease or a cure.
This means that mistakes sometimes get made. Does anyone remember how obsessed NME was with a crazyily hyped up band called the Palma Violets? As a 15-year-old past disciple of the haughty magazine, I was under the impression that listening to things NME considered ‘cool’ in itself made you instantly cooler. So I tried. I tried to listen to this band, an activity apparently equivalent to drinking Jesus’ tears. What I got was bitter disappointment. All they were was a pile of drivel. A vacuous, soulless imitation of angsty rock legends gone by.
And then there was Jake Bugg. Oh, Jake Bugg, how many hours and words have been wasted on you? I myself wasted many minutes listening to his music, trying to incorporate it into my library, trying so desperately to discover some originality in it. And eventually, I realised there was none. There were people comparing this tired caricature to BOB DYLAN?! For me, it’s hard to believe anyone with ears and a basic knowledge of what it means to imitate, could think this man anything other than a teeny-bopper and a false idol. (Most of the of the songs of his”authentic and homegrown” debut album are cowritten with a past writer for Snow Patrol).
“So what am I getting at?” I hear you cry from the futuretime. Does this mean you can’t read music blogs anymore (THIS ONE INCLUDED)?! Does this mean you shouldn’t believe people when they say new bands are the next best thing? Does this mean my life is a lie? No, dear friends, calm your sweet little heads. For all is not lost. All I am seeking to suggest is that we stop taking lofty opinions as gospel. Music blogs should be there to guide, to suggest, to nudge gently. If you listen to Caribou and all you hear is noise, you are probably not alone. If you listen to anything Kanye West has produced in the past 5 years and just think “WTF?!”, that is OK. Everyone is on their own personal musical journey, and just because people are flipping their shit over artists that literally have non-letter symbols in their names, it doesn’t mean that you should too.
Be authentic. If that means you love Justin Beiber, don’t do it secretly, flipping shout that shit to the wind! If it means that you prefer the sound of The Little River Band to Arcade Fire then fuckin buy their greatest hits and pump it down the high street. You are entitled to your own opinion, just like everyone else on the planet.
So read NME, Pitchfork, The Guardian, We Need More Cowbell, read whatever you so damn please. But don’t, for God’s sake, start thinking we know any better than you how to get down. Only you know the path to musical nirvana, young Jedi, so go out and find it.