I have the same relationship with pop music that I do with candy. It’s sweet and easy to swallow. Too much, though, gives me a stomach ache; loading up another round of syncopated beats coupled with vocal harmonies on the stereo generally gives me the feeling of being swaddled in a giant marshmallow.
I’m pretty guilty of being one of those satchel-wearing guys who listens to nonsensically under-produced BandCamp albums that don’t consist of much more than a lazily tuned guitar and some cusses yelled into a tin can.
From the time that my tastes began to devolve in this way, I’ve seen something of a disease carving its way through the fringe music community, and that disease is malice with a pinch of musical condescension.
Music outsiders, by all accounts, harshly pan pop music by calling it casual and uncreative.
The Guardian cites that our tastes in music is not something that we choose, but rather is a part of our innate nature as individuals.
A study done by the University of Melbourne suggests that the music one enjoys has much to do with how much “dissonance” is detected by the listener. This means that familiar chords and chord progressions are more easily appreciated by a wider audience; songs that present unfamiliar chords, however, can be grating to the unaccustomed ear.
So the music one enjoys is not controlled by a switch that can be flipped whenever that person samples the hipster community’s musical canon.
They are more than likely not going to suddenly care about your favorite band that consists of 20 pasty banjo players that somehow can’t get louder than a cell phone at a live show.
And, frankly, there is no higher power that says they should. Hipster elitism is just another way to spread vitriolic discourse for the sake of spreading vitriolic discourse.
Turning a nose up at Directioners or Ariana Grande fans is not going to help anyone, and it sure isn’t going to encourage the growth of independent musicians.
Despite the opinions that smaller audiences may project onto beloved underground bands, artists need to eat and pay rent, and they do so by reaching more listeners.
Moreover, when an alternative music fan calls a pop music fan’s tastes bad, it says more about the alternative music fan than it does the pop music fan.
Just as music hipsters might think that pop lovers don’t “get it,” it would seem that the hipsters themselves don’t really “get it” either when it comes to the mainstream.
Pop music isn’t about how complicated or alienating a song can get; it’s about having a fun listening experience, which is a notion that is apparently lost on some people.
And for those who say that pop music is too simple: there is distinct cleverness and skill in creating something simple that actually works and sounds good.
Elitism makes people look scummy. Nobody deserves to be shamed for the media they enjoy consuming. By and large, we’re free to be you and me.
As long as there are people out there who refuse to grow apart from the irrationality of pushing away potential new listeners, music communities will remain stunted not by their niche appeal, but by the faults of their members.
Meanwhile, I will continue to listen to my low-fidelity garbage and take pop in small, controlled portions.