I hate music snobs that believe their taste in music is the only acceptable kind. We all have those friends who say things like, "They used to be so cool before everyone else starting liking their music." What does that even mean? Those people usually continue sticking their noses in the air by saying, "I only listen to independent artists. I hate mainstream." I mean really, give me something more than that... a real argument. I remember when Daft Punk and Disclosure were not household names too, but they are still producing quality music. "Latch" and "Get Lucky" may have been overplayed on top 40 radio stations, but they are great songs.
Don't get me wrong, I agree that when an artist lets someone else take creative control over their work and image it gets a little strange, but in today's world it's much easier to find artists that don't settle for that. Take FKA Twigs for example, she seems to be the driving force in her career. She is her own choreographer, video director, producer, writer and singer. If she scored a hit single I would be a fool to stop listening or feel that I must switch to a private session on Spotify when I am in the mood for "Video Girl."
As an enthusiast for all things creative I find it difficult to dislike any art form, and as an artist it is hard for me to reject someone's vision. When I started writing music reviews back when I hosted an electronic radio show, I stayed away from writing anything negative. If I did not connect to the album I generally tried to find the tracks I liked or skipped the review altogether. While you are not required to like everything, being negative towards an artist's work that you don't understand makes you sound like an ass, especially if the main reason is, "Well, I just hate popular music" or "I liked this song before it was a hit." Give me a break.
When I started curating art shows I went in with the same approach. I had no real curatorial training, but felt inspired to start organizing exhibitions. When I'm working with artists I tell them my vision for the exhibition, and then let the artist run with their thoughts. I always say, "Don't let me dictate what you create -- you are the artist." Working in the arts has introduced me to some interesting perspectives and some have been hard to grasp, but the joy of creativity is that there are no rules. The same goes for music. Here are some quotes music snobs love to shout out. Stop me if you think that you've heard this one before.
Only Stupid People Listen to Popular Music
I saw someone post this on Facebook recently and I almost died. I noticed the people that liked and repurposed the status recently shared music like The Beatles, The Smiths, Michael Jackson and all things '90s on their social channels. I hate to break it to you, but that was all popular music once (and still is). We forget that The Beatles hold the record for the most number-one singles in a calendar year. But let me guess, you're pre-Abbey Road Beatles huh? Too cool for me.
I get it. You like Aphex Twin, Tourist, Gold Panda and Flying Lotus. These are names that people don't hear as often as say Taylor Swift and Beyonce, but don't act like you are above popular music. Enjoying less popular music does not make you smarter than everyone else. I'm not a genius, but I don't think intelligence works that way.
The Artist Changed Their Style
Artists are people too and they change just like we do. If an artist constantly released the same kind of record you would then say it's mundane. Chances are you probably missed out on some good jams because you went in listening to the album expecting what you got the last time. Real artists are not like that. For example, as a visual artist Kara Walker's work has changed a lot since the 90s, but the message of her work has always been the same. This is called personal and creative growth. This happens to all artists.
Music Doesn't Sound Like It Used To
The correct statement is, "top 40 doesn't sound like it used to." I agree with you here. The radio has changed dramatically since I was younger, but that is because what people want has changed. However, it is 2014 and if you are still glued to that station from high school - you're out of your mind! Discovering music is much easier these days and artists like Mark Ronson and Raphael Saadiq are serious about keeping the traditional sound of R&B music alive. Bilal, Ella Eyre and KING are additional examples in soul music. That traditional song structure you may have grown up with still exists in every genre. I love a classic album as much as the next guy, but that does not mean it ends there.
Pop Artists Don't Write Their Own Music
Like Twigs, more popular artists are beginning to sit in the driver seat of their careers creating music that better reflects their artistic vision. Yes, they collaborate, but that's expected in music. Remember, some of the biggest names in the industry did not write all of their hits either. Michael Jackson only co-wrote and co-produced 3 songs on "Off the Wall," and some of Whitney Houston's biggest records were penned by other writers. So were they not good artists?
Popular Music is Overplayed
I recently listened to mainstream radio to hear an interview of a musician I like and I could not believe how many times they played that Nicki Minaj "Anaconda" song. It probably played 3 or 4 times in one hour until I turned the radio off. You too, can turn the radio off. Problem solved. A song is only overplayed if you allow it to be.
Now I am not pleading with you to give pop music a chance. This is not a Chris Crocker thing. I certainly didn't rush to buy the new Taylor Swift album, but I didn't judge the people that did. In fact, as a music fan I am proud of her. She took a risk and tried something new. I couldn't believe the responses I saw to her release. People were genuinely upset like she did something wrong by having a ton of fans.
With music I think it is great to have preferences, but believing that your taste is the best will block you from expanding your musical ear. When I was in high school I started listening to sounds beyond what was played in my house. This acceptance of music that I was not used to opened my ears to a new world of sounds I could have missed out on. I learned that being a closed-minded snob is nothing to be proud of. Expand your genres and respect the genres of others! That's what makes you a real music fan. It's all about learning, don't be too good for things you don't know. Now play that Beyonce or Flight Facilities tune as loud as you can!