Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Magna Carta of Music Snobbery

Take a look around this site. You see a lot of youtube music videos, talk about music, and pop culture references involving music. After my family and maybe my writing, music is what matters to me the most.

Along with my weirdness and robot-human hybrid inanity, I make everything harder than it should be. I can't just like music. I have to love it, own it, worship it, and organize it. As a kid, I would categorize my 45s (I'm old), albums and cassettes by genre, style, or mood. I haven't changed much. When I went to college I discovered punk music. It metamorphized me into what you peasants call a music snob.

I was lied to as a kid. By the time I was 16, I was to believe that Van Halen was the greastest rock and roll band of all time. I was misguided. I found The Clash, The Ramones, The Damned, The Sex Pistols, The New York Dolls and suddenly I realized I had to be better at choosing my music.

A few years ago, when I started becoming involved with Al Gore's internet, I had a music blog on myspace. Before that social media became the crack den of viral communication, I wrote music reviews, concert reviews, and conencted with other music fans/journalists. The tie that binded most of us was our snobbery.

I get asked quite often, "what do you think of this band or artist?" and "why do you hate this band and like this other band". The truth is I listen to the same stuff everyone listens too, I'm just weird about what I like and what I despise. What follows, are a set of rules or laws. I call it the Magna Carta of Music Snobbery.

1) Liking Van Halen is still ok. Liking anything Van Halen after Diamond David Lee Roth is not ok. Dave is Halen. This isn't arguable. Sammy Hagar is a nice man who writes decent songs of his own and makes a fine tequila. I don't acknowledge his time with the Vna Halen brothers.

2) Aerosmith ended after they kicked heroin. It's ok to dig Joe Perry solo. That band is a fraud after 1986.

3) Journey, Bon Jovi, The Eagles, Nickelback are the four horsemen of the musical apocalypse. They represent formulaic rock music made for crass comemrcial reasons with vaccous lyrics and no heart. We can argue other bad bands, but those four are the worst. Period.

4) The Red Hot Chili Peppers are overrated. Under the Bridge is not a great song, it's sap.

5) R.E.M. is really good but they're not great. At one point they were underrated - mid 80s/I.R.S. records era, then overrated - Monster album, then rated about right - where they are now. Husker Du, Let's Active, The Replacements, and The Alarm were all better symbols of the 1980s college music era.

6) Punk music is great because of it's point and approach. Stripping away the pretensions of rock and roll is a good thing. Outcasts starting punk bands in their garage is the spirit of music. This is why music snobs dig punk.

7) Nirvana is more important than good. I like their music more than the average music snob. I think Kurt Cobain was ahead of his time and possibly John Lennon-esque. Nirvana breaking the seal on grunge, the Northwest music scene, and helping hammer the death nail of hair metal are the reasons they should be celebrated. We can argue their artistic contributions.

8) Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville is NOT a song by song answer to the Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street. It is, however, the best low fi rock record of the 1990s. Liz shatters the myth that women can't write good anthems. Go listen to Never Said. Thank me later.

9) The Rolling Stones should be judged for their whole career, not just the late 60s and early 70s when they were the most awesome and dangerous band on the planet. Mick and Keith were great songwriters. They're not anymore.

10) Led Zepplin belongs in anyone's top five greatest band list. I don't care if they're 5 or 1 or in between those numbers, they belong. They created the Hard Rock/Metal genre along with Black Sabbath. They mastered the art of the concept album. They also changed the rules of the game as far as how rock bands are compensated for their live shows and thus how music is recorded.

11) Paul Westerberg is a genius. So is Elvis Costello. I don't have to explain either man to anyone. Just listen to their records.

12) Bob Dylan's voice is immaterial to his greatness. He made popular music literate, political, well meaning, and artful. He wins. Also, his version of All Along The Watchtower is better than Jimi Hendrix. It's Bob's song. Get over it.

13) After the Black album, Metallica doesn't exist. Some snobs will tell you this is the case after Master of Puppets, but I dig And Justice for All and some Black album songs.

14) Digital downloading is not only ok, it's in the spirit of how most reasonable artists view their creations. Artists make very little on teh sale of their Cds. They make the majority of their money on merchandise, licensing, live show take, and endorsements. There is no such thing as stealing their music. It's sampling their songs, then forming a fan relationship with said artist.

15) Reality shows featuring music are garbage. American idol goes against everything art is supposed to be. You can't "create" stars. Stars create themselves.

16) Pop music doesn't suck. Just most of it.

17) It's ok to sing anything you want at a kareoke bar. Unless you are accompanied by a live band, then, you better sing something awesome and music snob approved or you will burn in hell with Vanilla Ice and The Bay City Rollers.

18) If you are in Memphis, Savannah, downtown New York City, a coffee house in Seattle or anywhere with music in the streets and you don't stop and listen to musicians pouring their hearts out for spare change, you have no soul. Bar bands and itinerant musicans are the liveblood or good music. Listen to them and Tip them.

19) Motown music is awesome. But it belongs in the 1960s and 1970s. Current artists remaking those songs are lazy and second rate.

20) Thriller is very overrated. So is most of Michael Jackson's catalog. Off The Wall is a good record, after that, his stuff is mostly average. He was a better performer than songwriter and producer.

21) If you can't quote all of the dialogue from High Fidelity (the music snob's Citizen Kane), then you aren't a true music fan.

22) John Lennon is the only Beatle who made decent solo records. Away from The Beatles, most of Paul, george, and Ringo's stuff is lousy. Yoko Ono did not break up The Beatles. The Beatles broke up the Beatles because they all knew Paul was going to write Silly Little Love Songs.

23) Arguing about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is only permitted if an artist is not in. That institution is a Jann Wenner butt kissing fest and largely unimportant.

24) KISS belongs in the rock and roll Hall of Fame.

25) Country music before the year 1980 is probably ok. After that, you need help. Don't do it.

26) Your record collection is only as good as the new CD that no one else has heard yet.

These laws are fluid. I have a good music journalist friend, Chuck who doesn't like The Beatles. People's tastes are all over the place.I get asked about pop music a lot. I like Christina Aquilera, Rihanna, Matchbox Twenty, Counting Crows, Rob Thomas (solo), Katy Perry's Waking up in Vegas, Rick Springfield's Jessie's Girl, and certain 70s, 80s, and 90s pop songs like Duncan Sheik's Barely Breathing.

The two music sites I visit A LOT are - I occasionally write there. Let me know and I'll direct you to my posts. The site owner, Chuck aka @_deadjournalist on teh twitterz is a good dude. - He does a great job. Dude sees a lot of shows, and keeps new music as the focus.

Bottom line is a love music and listen to a lot of it. Whether it's the new CDs by The Strokes, Foo Fighters, Smith Westerns, Yuck, MAKEOUT! or older stuff. I am listening to it all the time.

Today's song is from an album, Let It Be, and a band, The Replacements, that any music lover and/or snob should own and listen. Here's I Will Dare. Play it loud.


  1. In a past life I was a music snob

  2. You are the king of the music snobs. All hail!

  3. Great thoughts. I agree with almost all of them. Especially the Metallica.

    I'm into indie rock. Wondering what your thoughts are. And what about Neil Diamond?

  4. I wholeheartedly agree with almost everything on this list, with a few exceptions or additions:

    12) I love Dylan, but for reasons unknown, I REALLY love other people interpreting his music in their own style.

    13) I've been ridiculed, scoffed and and basically lost all elistist cred I had (I actually hate being labelled an elitist because I like a lot of ridiculous music as well) for admitting this.. but I am one of the few people I know that really enjoyed most of Load.

    14) This goes for Toronto, Vancouver, Halifax and Hamilton as well.

    15) I can't recite the dialogue from High Fidelity but I can recite along to Hard Core Logo

    25) My one word argument against this statement: Wilco. There's also a lot of pretty awesome bluegrass out there... But the honky-tonk 'she thinks my tractor's sexy' wal-mart country.. yeah most of it pretty much sucks.

  5. Oh, and further to point #25, I highly recommend Blue Rodeo. They're actually kind of a rock/country fusion, but more on the country side of things. I lurves them. Jim Cuddy has a voice like butter, which contrasts fabulously with Greg Keelors more gravel-road vocals.

  6. @Cheeseboy - Neil is a guilty pleasure. I Am I Said is a good song. Neil was a good songwriter in the 60s and 70s.

    @Yandie - I thought Load sucked. I love Wilco, a lot. I don't consider them country.

  7. Can I come play in your record collection?

    And I love the line about the next great unheard album....


  8. wow we agree and disagree on so much its amazing.
    i'll just go thru the list. because lists are amazing. Also, Long Comment Is Long. I don't care.

    1. All Van Halen is shit. Sammy Hagar years were shit and David Lee Roth's voice bothers me. Therefore they were all shit.

    2. I agree.

    3. Replace Bon Jovi with Creed, and you're Gold.

    4. RHCP were good, and then Hillel died. What can you do

    5. Im kinda on the fence with you here. I think REM were great before Monster...Monster is where you have all your ~new~ fans who think that Losing My Religion is a great song because they saw the video back on MTV back when MTV showed videos. There are so many good REM songs that are NOT played on the radio, and so many that ARE, that its hard to really decipher where they fit in. Are they the quintessential 80s band, 90s band? IDK. I like them alot.

    7 Nirvana is fantastic and as much as I love them, I think they are a gateway band. Foo Fighters would have never existed if there wasnt Nirvana...and in my personal opinion, I think FF has surpassed Nirvana. However, Nirvana will never be skipped on my shuffle and will always be blasted for my neighbors neighbors to hear.

    Im going to skip around at this point because your list is long and I hate Liz Phair.

    12--People who dont like Dylan need to be judged and judged harshly. You don't like his voice? Boo hoo. Listen to the lyrics, listen to the melody. Awesome songs came out of this man, and I imagine many more will come.

    22--i disagree. it may just be because i have a hatred for john lennon and the way he treated his ex wife that makes me feel this way. i like ALOT of GH solo and will listen to it 999 times out of 1000 before i listen to JL solo. then again, it could be because i like more GH beatles songs that JL.

    anything else i havent commented on..anything that ive skipped, i agree with, or sorta agree with. thats why i skipped them. besides liz phair. i just dont like her.

  9. 5. and YES I KNOW Losing My Religion was on Out of Time, but people who discovered this song were also the same people who were all OMG WHATS THE FREQUENCY KENNETH IS THE BEST SONG EVAR

  10. @CAM thanks for finally stopping by. Lol @ your twitter comments and this one.

    Liz is great and I used to have a thing for her. Guyville. Is. Brilliant.

    R.E.M. is a local band for me. I've met them, hung out w them, and kind of earned my snobbery w them. Go get Accelerate, its a good record.

    I don't have a problem w anything else. Bon Jovi is worse than Creed. Deep down you know it.

  11. @CWK
    Sorry, autocorrect renamed you

  12. By The Way ... I happened to watch High Fidelity yesterday. I tweeted it!

    Jack Blacks Best Character Ever!!! "Let 'em Riot! We are Sonic Fucking Death Monkey."

    And I agree with 95% of this.

  13. I agree with you for the most part on #'s 1,2,4, 5,7,8,10,12-16,18,19,20,22,23,25 & 26. Numbers 6,9,11 & 24, I have no real opinion on simply because I never really got into them. I've heard of them and I am aware of their credentials but never, did I invest much time in listening to them.

    3. I agree with your four but could plug in several other "bands" that could fill the empty spot left by any one of those groups. The recording industry has been saturated with crap music made by one hit wonders and, with outlets like American Idol and the like, it is going to get worse.

    17. In no way, should karaoke be a legal form of entertainment. There is nothing worse than hearing some drunken dope, choke out the words to "Material Girl" or "Neon Moon".

    21. I am a huge fan of High Fidelity but I do not know the script by memory, so does this end any chance that I have/had to impress you with my musical prowess?

    I agree with you that Liz P.'s "exile" is underrated.

  14. @IB - no. you did great. lol!

  15. I am totally not a music snob. But I know what I like. I've always thought Nirvana was overrated. Even as a teenager. Kurt Cobain always struck me as a whiny little shit. If he'd shut the fuck up and just owned his commercialism, I'd have a bit more respect. Country music is a bleeding hemorrhoid on the ass of humanity. John Lennon was a fucking communist. The genius of They Might Be Giants is sorely underrated. I totally agree with #3 and #4. And I am completely striking #5 from my consciousness and refuse to dignify that with anything other than me sticking my tongue out at you. So there.

  16. @Aimee - I stick my tongue back out at you and then some...HA


  17. I am far from snobbery in the music field, I am comforted that a purported music snob hates the Beatles, I can't stand anything they ever did. I don't care how much they changed culture, they suck, period.

    And I will always hate Bon Jovi because my ex wife loves them and made me listen to it all the time. They are both from NJ.

  18. I'm a music loser, but I love this list. Mostly because the points you made, that I actually understood, I agreed with! Yay!

  19. BLASPHEMY! I watched Young Guns this weekend and sang Blaze of Glory in my head (even tho that's from YG2). Name an awesome Creed song you can do THAT to? :p
    Nothing is worse than Creed. Nothing.

  20. I had this on my "saved blogs" list this week because I wanted to make sure I commented.

    This is the best list ever, hands down. You sir, are a legend.