Follow the beat of your own iPod

Kate Bigam

Their iPods are permanently charged. They’re always rocking out to obscure bands you’ve never heard of. They ask you what music you’re listening to, and when you answer, the disdain in their voices is evident: “Oh, I listened to them years ago,” or a simple “Oh, reeeally.”

You know them, because you’ve seen them around campus – they’re everywhere.

They’re the Musical Elitists.

The Musical Elitists have the unique ability to make you doubt your taste in tunes. They make you ashamed of your old-school Backstreet Boys album (sandwiched amongst Bon Jovi, Bright Eyes and Ben Folds) by bombarding you with questions you can’t answer about bands whose names you can’t pronounce. They make you wonder if your choice of music is bland and parental, and if that somehow insinuates that you are terribly unoriginal, too.

It’s easy to find yourself in awe of Musical Elitists’ melodic prestige. How do they find these bands and hear of these concerts? And more importantly, why do they care so much that you don’t? What’s worse is that these people force musical recommendations upon you but throw hissy fits when their favorite artists become mainstream.

Musical Elitists get their kicks by making you feel bad about your taste in melodies. In essence, they are lyrical bullies. They’re not kicking you in the shins or nailing you in the stomach during dodge ball, like bullies did in the second grade.

But their subtle musical intimidation tactics can have the same effect. They make you doubt yourself. You know you shouldn’t, and you realize it’s petty, but you still have to wonder: “Have I been living under a rock?” These people feel better about themselves by making you feel less culturally clued-in than they are.

Music is an expression of personality. You listen to what suits you, what defines you, whatever properly expresses your emotions. If you’re getting ready to go out for a night on the town, you might blast Kelly Clarkson or old-school ’80s. When you’re trying to study and can’t handle lyrics, you pop in Sigur Ros or Mozart. And when you find out your girlfriend cheated on you, you crank Taking Back Sunday or Eminem, or something else angry and pulsating. Your choice in music is a direct reflection of your emotional needs.

It’s tempting to cave into Musical Elitists’ pressure to be ashamed of your musical inventory. But to do so is to deny a little bit of yourself. To allow someone to say “Oh, Dashboard Confessional is so pass‚” without defending your taste is to allow yourself to be walked on by someone with a superiority complex. You stopped letting the class bully pull your hair in fifth grade, so why let the abuse continue now that you’re 21?

Take Musical Elitists at face value. While it can never be a bad thing to open yourself up to new options, musically and otherwise, we should all learn to stand up for our preferences.

Musical Elitists can be a great resource for finding new bands. But then again, so can’s “Personalized Recommendations” tool.

Kate Bigam is a fifth-year journalism major and columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].