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March 16, 2004

Differences of Opinion

A friend recounted a conversation he had with a friend, to illustrate how the guy hasn't really grown up yet. The guy can relate more easily to a teenager than someone his age (early 30s), which he's beginning to realize is kinda weird. So he says something like "I don't want to be aged x and still talking about OutKast with 16-year-olds." [Note: I don't think he actually hangs out with teenagers, it's just dramatic license.] The friend who's telling this story says that he doesn't know who that is. The guy rattles off some song titles, but he still doesn't know the band, and the guy's incredulous.

I found myself more intrigued by the side story. I don't know a lot of OutKast, but given their extensive radio airplay and their success at the Grammys with Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, it's amazing to find out they're still completely unknown to some people. So if you've never heard of a singer or a band, does that mean the music's no good, that it's only good for juvenile tastes?

In another conversation, I described as "fantastic" No Doubt's cover of "It's My Life." Even though I love the original by Talk Talk, I was genuinely thrilled to hear the cover. Some of my friends remarked critically that the remake wasn't very interesting, that it wasn't brilliant or genius, which a really good cover accomplishes. Point taken. Yes, the cover has No Doubt flourishes, but it's otherwise faithful. Sometimes it's enough to hear a good band do a good song.

People have strong opinions about their personal tastes, so talking about art, books, movies, or music can be more controversial than one expects. There should be room for spirited debate, even if in the end you still disagree. Yet I find myself surprised at times by the disconnect. Sometimes I wonder if we're just talking about the subject, or if we're trying to demonstrate something about ourselves to each other. Taste is subjective, but people should like what they like, even if no one else does, even if there's ridicule or disdain. I just hope that I remain open enough to entertain the new.

Yours, &c., LC | 03:22 PM | Music | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

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now i have heard of outkast, and probably heard their music too, but when i was up in athens recently dancing at the 283 bar, this song came on, the place went nuts (more nuts than when the violent femmes add it up came on - hows that for old?) and cheryl grabbed my hand as she was singing along... i guess i had a blank look on my face as she said, "this is outkast". and i honestly think it was the first time i had ever heard it before.. and if i heard it again i don't think i'd recognize it. and that's pretty much how i feel about them.

Posted by: marco at March 16, 2004 07:27 PM

You've always been more than open to most of the crazy crap I've made you listen to. You've even bought some for yourself, right? Even if I did describe that No Doubt cover as both insipid and awful. I'm also pretty certain we'll continue to disagree on that Junior Senior thing, too... :-)

Posted by: mrw at March 16, 2004 08:54 PM

On further reflection, I realize that it's entirely probable that my friend would think OutKast is for sixteen-year-olds because he doesn't know anything about them otherwise, except what his friend told him in the context of his remark. But even if you never listen to pop radio, most people would hear news reports, say, about the Grammys. Even NPR reported who the big winners were, which included OutKast. Probably most NPR listeners went "WHO?!?" but that wouldn't be surprising.

Like I said, I don't know a lot of OutKast, but at least I know that for those who follow the rap scene, they're astronomically huge. Then again, when I came back from my study abroad in college, some girl named Britney Spears was all over the radar, and I had no idea why. Exposure to music just depends on so many things - where you are, what radio you listen to, what media you read, what friends you have and what they listen to. I kind of like the serendipity of finding new things to listen to, even though I probably could take a more logistical approach if I followed the music media or listened to more college radio or something.

I think music's more volatile in terms of personal taste. It also depends on what you get out of a song. I'm more emotional, I rely on gut instinct when I listen to music. My response isn't as rational or intellectual; of course that also comes from my not knowing anything about musical theory or composition. Simply, I like something because I like it. Sometimes I can give a better reason than that, but not always.

For me, sugar-pop is just happy, get-up-and-dance-like-nobody's-watching music. So yes, I will like the Junior Senior and No Doubt stuff that makes world-weary pompous fogey hipsters cringe, but so what? It's okay if you don't like it - though I do pity you. ;) I don't need every song to be a religious experience. Sometimes a girl just wants to have fun.

All together now: THEY JUST WANNA, THEY JUST WANNA AAH AAH!

Posted by: LadyCrumpet at March 17, 2004 09:25 AM