Lessons from a former genre snob

Denise Wright

They’re everywhere. Who knows? Maybe you’re one of them – the type who thinks they’re cool because they only listen to The Postal Service and other electro-indie bands most people have never heard of, but they don’t even want to waste their time listening to others’ close-minded views on the new Taylor Swift album. After all, how could anyone who listens to Taylor Swift possibly know anything about music?

Truth be told, I was once a genre snob, too. Except I was on the other end of the spectrum. All through high school, I was strictly all top 40s, all day. I could recite anything you ever wanted to know about Justin Timberlake. And I remember my friend, Nate, handing me headphones and telling me to listen to this “great” screamo band. Those headphones never made it to my ears.

But I guess you could say I’m a recovering genre snob. For better or worse, college had a way of opening my eyes to completely new experiences, musically and otherwise. I’ve spent the last few years delving beyond such radio-friendly music and into the realms of classic rock, back to my country roots and even entered the Nintendo-core era that is Sky Eats Airplane.

Last week, I was sitting at a table with a member of Alesana, a band that, honestly, I didn’t like upon first listen. I could have easily just wrote them off, and I probably wouldn’t have been at their show that night. But I gave them a chance, and a few months later, they became one of my favorite bands.

Doing so has taught me that taste isn’t something you’re born with, it’s something you develop. So maybe I don’t know everything there is to know about the artists on your “best musicians of all time list,” but I’m OK with that. Because, in my opinion, it’s more fun to try a little taste of everything than to stick with the usual.

Yes, I like Christina Aguilera’s music, and I think she’s done a lot on the feminist forefront. Her song “Can’t Hold Us Down” began with lyrics that stated “So what, am I not supposed to have an opinion/ Should I be quiet just because I’m a woman.” Going back, Bikini Kill had fiery performances while still being known for their involvement in the riot grrrl movement of the 1990s.

And it’s refreshing to have Katy Perry on the scene, just being “one of the boys” and shaking things up with a song about kissing a girl. Maybe she grew up listening to the Indigo Girls.

And we all know Nirvana is great. But for those looking for something darker, try listening to Aiden, one of the most notable bands to come out of Seattle since the grunge era of the 1990s.

What I’m trying to say is great music transcends both time and genre barriers. To argue that music of the 1960s is better than today’s or say that country music is the worst thing to ever be introduced to mankind – it seems unnecessary to me because taste, as we all should know, is subjective.

Maybe you think I’m being too simple-minded. But I wouldn’t be writing this column if people didn’t make these things too complicated.

Music, like a lot of things in life, would go much more smoothly if you close your mouth for a second and just open your ears and mind a little. You may not like what you hear, and that’s OK. I’m just asking you to understand. I’d rather not spend a whole trip to Cleveland listening to how much you hate [insert band name here] on my mix CD. Just say you’re not a fan and skip to the next track.

Contact all editor Denise Wright at [email protected].