Are you a music snob?

You should see Room 102 – it’s much cooler, but you probably haven’t heard of it…

Are you a music snob? Do you know a music snob?

On Last week’s episode of Room 101 Lauren Laverne made a bid to banish Music Snobs.

“You wouldn’t want to prevent other people from eating pistachio ice cream just because you don’t like the taste, do why should music be any different?” she said.

All well and good.

This naturally made me wonder whether I was a music snob: Snobbery in any form is an unattractive characteristic, and I would like to think that I’m not. I am equally happy for my kids to dance along to Pixie Lott as The Kings of Leon or the Black Keys, and they like all three. But…

There’s always a but….

As I mentioned on a previous post, when I listen to the music on Radio 2 a little part of me dies every time. And does a little vomit.

I don’t want to stop people from listening to Humperdinck, Bublé, Melua et al, but commercial stations such as Smooth, Heart, Magic and Capital FM can do that just as well. However, as with many art forms, I do think there is such a thing as good music and bad music. Is that snobby?

To use an example; is a painting by Frida Kahlo better than the Athena poster of the tennis girl scratching her shapely derrière? (OK – bad example – don’t answer that)…

Pete DohertyIs a poster of a tearful Pierrot as sold in the thousands by the aforementioned Athena as good as this photo of Pete Doherty by NME photographer Dean Chalkley?

One is a picture of a sad looking clown…..but that’s enough about the picture of Doherty…

I’m certainly not advocating replacing great pop music with navel-gazing indie singer songwriters. There are good records by Kylie and bad records by Dylan. I’m not suggesting that we tear down posters of Pierrot either. (No need – the nineties did that for us).

I do believe however that what is played on the Radio shapes people’s tastes. To use Laverne’s example, If you are fed cheap and badly made ice cream and nothing else, eventually you get used to the taste, even if you never truly learn to love ice cream. Radio 2 seldom serve delicious home made Italian Gelati, or Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia.  They don’t even serve the Haagen Dazs pralines and cream one. They only seem to serve value range imitation ice cream made from reconstituted hydrogenated vegetable oil and powdered milk that was past it’s sell by date before it was dropped on the floor at Aldi, melted, got half eaten by the cat and then got put back in the freezer.

I don’t want to eat their ice cream. It tastes awful. The trouble is, they are the Nation’s Favourite Ice Cream Seller and they are forcing mouldy ice cream down my throat every time I switch on the radio in the car. It’s giving me indigestion and if I eat any more I might be sick.

I think I have stretched that metaphor about as far as it will go.

So is it possible for Radio 2 to play “better” music? Some might argue that “better” is just a matter of opinion… I disagree. I think there is now a weight of critical opinion that gives us confidence. So here’s my solution:

  1. When you play older songs, don’t just press the “shuffle” button on Tony Blackburn’s iPod. Don’t leave it to him. Get someone who doesn’t think that 1987 was the best ever year for music. It wasn’t.
  2. That’s it. Really.

Did you say “Poptastic”??? Someone take this clown’s iPod away from him…

If they really wanted to put some thought into it, it isn’t tricky to research: books such as “1001 Albums to hear before you Die” would do the trick. There must be loads of songs in there that are not by Marcus Collins or Celine Dion.  Maybe Rolling Stone’s album guide or Top 500 albums list? Lists by Q or NME or a myriad of music magazines come out regularly. I bet even The Beano would come up with a better playlist than Radio 2.

Notably, the music played on the Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand Radio 2 shows was always diverse and interesting, without sounding like another radio station entirely.

It gives us a base to work from.  And if the odd song by Shalamar slips through the net, then that’s okay. At least it’ll stop me from being a music snob.

Record #21 – Bob Dylan – Subterranean Homesick Blues (one of his good ones…)

Postscript: 

The last word goes to my wife (as ever). I asked her if she thought I was a music snob. She replied: “Well you couldn’t be – liking the bands you like…”

You can’t argue with that.



Categories: Music

Tags: , , , , , , ,

12 replies

  1. I have never been called a music snob, but I have been called a music racist as most heavy rock/metal acts tend to be white. I just mention the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Tony MacAlpine to name just two. I have always been opened minded about all forms of music, but that doesn’t stop me from saying when I don’t like something.

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  2. You’re right — always muddy territory when we start talking about who has better taste than whom. I actually read recently that my Meyers-Briggs personality type (INFJ) makes me someone who is less likely to read a bestseller that everyone is raving about because I don’t trust the popular opinion. Perhaps you and I are in the same boat there?

    The ice cream analogy is so appropriate, especially since I love my ice cream almost as much as I love my music. You have confirmed that I am not, in fact, a music snob; rather, I am simply someone who actually has a sense of what I do and don’t like.

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    • Thanks for following and dropping by – I think you are right – you can’t always trust public opinion or the critics – I like to hear things for myself. Having said that, you do need someone to filter the huge amount of new music, films, books and ice cream flavours that are out there… I’ll do the ice cream and the music – you can cover the films and the books….deal?

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  3. Snobbery is always unattractive. But there is something called taste as well. Unfortunately, as in so many things in life, music tends to follow the lowest common denominator (perhaps less than other things, now I come to think of it). That’s why we get horrible mediocrity on things like X-Factor, which seems to prompt people to gush, weep and even hold up cigarette lighters for the most ordinary reasons.

    The only way around it is to live and let live. Don’t condemn. Just turn off Radio 2 and go to Planet Rock, BBC 6, Wrecking Ball radio, FolkUK Radio, whatever. Let the others splash around in their mediocrity. It’s not snobbery to reckon something is not good — it’s just your taste.

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  4. Radio 2 is for middle of the road people who don’t have digital radio, so they try and cater for a broad demographic. When that happens, as with everything else it ends up being just in the middle neither great or hillariously crap, just borning.

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  5. I think you might like my friend Dick Rosemont, The Guy in the Groove. He is a kindred spirit. http://www.santafe.com/blogs/dick-rosemont

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