It’s been a week of heated arguments and fiercely defended opinions. Scathing comments have been thrown around like confetti and outright umbrage has been taken, with no thought for the consequences. Passions have run high and friendships have been tested.
What could possibly have prompted such highly charged tension, you may be asking (if you’re nosy, like I am)?
It’s a simple answer. Music.
There’ve been arguments about genres and styles, talent and hype. And it’s got me thinking about the role of music in our lives. It’s so much a part of our identies. Music is one way we define ourselves. Songs and artists can be a source of solace, of peace; it can provide the beat which gets you up and out of bed, or through a long work day. The past few weeks I’ve had moments where I’m pretty sure Taylor Swift’s new album has been produced specifically to provide the background soundtrack to a few things going on in my life at the moment. An unsettling discovery, but it’s clearly the only explanation for the general ‘yes, exactly!’ responses I’ve been experiencing.
And speaking of polarizing artists, music choices are also some of the most individual elements of our personalities. One person’s Desert Island Pick is someone else’s Most Hated. An artist can be revered by one friend, while this same performer revolts another.
The Southern Man likes what I refer to as ‘Angry Music’. Lots of screaming men and screaming guitars and very loud drums. The first time he put Rob Zombie on the playlist, I seriously reassessed our blossoming relationship. Luckily he’s also incredibly sweet (the Southern Man, that is – I reckon Mr Zombie has some concerning issues he might like to get professional help with…), and so road trip music includes 95% of my songs. My exposure to the loud expressions of angsty torturous tunes is limited. He’s good like that.
I know I’ve got pretty eclectic musical taste, like most people. I’ve got a few friends who are hugely into their music, and they are awesome when it comes to new options I might like. Pandora and Spotify have also introduced a whole bunch of new awesomeness. But there still seem to be a few hallowed bands or songs or artists who are so widely adored that it’s tantamount to heresy to publicly state your low opinion.
One of this week’s debatable artists was the late Michael Jackson. I know I am in the minority here, I certainly was in this fiery conversation, but I truly don’t see the fuss. Don’t like his music, any of it. ‘Thriller’ is one of the most over-rated examples of nonsense I’ve ever suffered through. And I am pretty sure Billy Jean wouldn’t want to be his lover, even if MJ would admit to it. Sure, I know the words to some songs, but this is a simple result of the tunes being overplayed on commercial radio. I really don’t find them, or him, appealing. But try saying this in an open forum – such as this week’s staff meeting, as an example – you’d think I’d proclaimed I don’t like fluffy kittens. Or that I think world peace is a waste of time.
U2, Coldplay, and Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ are also on my list of Can’t Really Be Bothered. On the flip side, it’s often either 80’s pop or country rock stations playing while I work, unpopular choices for some, I know.
Which brings me back to my initial random point. Music is so personal – it is one of those issues which people will debate fiercely, even if other, more traditionally contentious, subjects have been banned. (The Circle of Trust has tacitly agreed there are subjects we do not bring into polite group conversation, politics and religion being two. Music, though, is a free-for-all.).
Musical choices can tell you important things about a person. They can help you find kindred spirits in a wild world. But there’s also so much more to a favourite tune. It could well be that my surly dismissal of Michael Jackson’s catalogue was in fact horribly insulting to any one of the conversation’s participants, as what I consider to be noise pollution in fact is a significant element of some important moment or period in their life.
As I waffled on about in this post, music transcends time and place. It’s often not as simple as a beat/melody/lyric combination. Which makes it that much more interesting when you get to discuss someone’s Top 20 list.
Having said that, summer’s coming and with it boppy poppy tunes – sometimes things are simple and sweet, and that’s also a very good thing. So I hope you have a fun music-filled weekend – what’s on your playlist? Any recommendations? I’m off to Taupo for a work event next week, so that’s four hours in a car with my awesome Mooz, and I reckon I should get at least 2 hours of the drive as my choice. Am pretty sure she’ll ban Kenny Rogers and I probably can’t get away with more than an hour of Calexico, so suggestions are welcome!