Ch-art shaming: why there's no such thing as bad music taste
I have notoriously horrible taste in music.
In my nightmares I sit at a party (lol) where a faceless 20ish year old man asks me to ‘put a song on’. My hands grow so clammy that they can barely sustain a grip on the iPhone thrust in front of me. Manically laughing, I protest ‘hahahahahahahaha no really please don’t make me’. But, by now the current song slows to stop and everyone in the room turns to look at me, carefully assessing my next move. The song I choose determines my entire fate. It serves to represent who I am. It becomes the emblem of my essence. It defines me. It is me. I am the song. And to avoid all of the above I promptly hurl myself out of the window and wake up.
It is because of this that I’ve spent several years carefully cultivating and maintaining a brand of the girl who knows so little about music that it is both laughable and endearing. It’s almost wacky how little I know about this stuff . Do not pass me the aux unless you want 4 uninterrupted hours of Joe McElderry and/or Mamma Mia 2.
I go to extraordinary depths both to tout and conceal my terrible taste in music.
My theory is this: there comes a point when a song is so bad that to listen to it becomes a strange sort of comedy. These are the songs I relish in. I am absolutely fine, nay, delighted for everyone to know that my most played song on iTunes is ‘These Words’ by Natasha Bedingfield (at a cool 294 listens). It is just a categorically funny song. She mispronounces ‘hyperbole’. She rhymes ‘Byron, Shelley and Keats’ with ‘Hip Hop Beats’. That’s literally genius!?!!??! It is the sort of song that occupies a blissful position of being so unashamedly awful that there is no risk in anyone taking your listening of it seriously. It does not reflect you, or your lack of taste; you are just a girl with a good sense of humour and a penchant for early 2000s chart toppers.
More haunting are the songs which tread a fine line between being bad, but not so obviously bad that you could pass off listening to them as a joke. You run the risk of looking like George Ezra is your genuine taste in music. These are the songs which render my Spotify into a constant state of ‘private session’. That little blue padlock hanging over my Spotify icon is a shameful reminder of my inability to trust my own convictions. God forbid all of my seven followers are made aware that I regularly have obscure Kate Nash album tracks on repeat for hours at a time (‘Birds’ is actually really moving and I urge you to listen).
Anyway, if you are wondering why you have just read an incoherent 470 word diatribe about ‘not quite awful but definitely not cool’ music, it is for this: I, at the ripe age of 22, have recently arrived at the utterly liberating and glorious conclusion that none of this matters !!!!! !!! ! ! ! !!!!
One of the best bits about living in 2019 (other than the second season of Fleabag) is that we are finally starting to call out art shamers for who they truly are: insufferable morons who ought to go bury themselves under a mountain of Radiohead b-sides. The more I think about it, the more ludicrous it becomes that for years I maintained that the only reason I went to go see Coldplay live was because my Dad bought tickets and “I felt too bad to say no”. Let me come out on record and say that not only did I suggest that my Dad buy those Coldplay tickets, but afterwards, as we walked home, proudly wearing our recently bought Coldplay t-shirts, dizzy and breathless from having sung along to ‘Fix You’ too passionately, I turned to him and said: ‘thanks Dad, that was actually the best night of my entire life’.
NB: Looking back on it now, seeing Coldplay live probably wasn’t the best night of my entire life, but I’d peg it in the top ten. It was a spectacle. I still think about the wrist bands, which were synchronised to light up to the swell of their power ballads, to this very day. A life affirming evening.
I try to evade the profound at all costs, but let me attempt to make one (sort of serious) point: music is indisputably wonderful and it should be a force for unification, not shame.
This is not my attempt to discredit the entire music industry. I know that it took more time, skill and talent to create ‘Abbey Road’ than it did for One Direction to mash together their inaugural ‘Up All Night’. But I cannot help it if my ears physically crave the latter more than the former. And I certainly shouldn't need to put my Spotify on ‘private session’ because of it.
- Maddy Fletcher