It’s a cool thing amongst avid music consumers to dislike the big, popular “indie” bands. I’m talking about the artists that get a lot of radio play whose initials aren’t JT and who don’t lick hammers in their music videos. Every bro with a beard and a flannel shirt switched from loving to hating Mumford and Sons when their second album came out last fall. And is you were to ever admit to falling under the spell that is the combination of gorgeous harmonies, thoughtful lyrics and an easy hook perfected by The Lumineers then expect a few eye rolls and disgruntled sighs of disappointment. As someone who genuinely loves and appreciates all music (including Miley’s latest album) I just don’t understand. Good music is good music, so why are we so afraid to associate popular with good?
This is something that we do only with music. You won’t lose your street cred for crushing on Ryan Gosling. Everyone watches Breaking Bad and the Office—actually, it’s not cool if you don’t. As a society we are especially weird with food because having an appreciation for bad quality or unhealthy food is celebrated while making healthy choices tend to be shamed. People cringe if you tell them you’re watching what you eat and ordering a salad instead of a burger often leads to teasing. We can drool over Ry guy and spend a day binge watching Breaking Bad because just like a greasy slice of pizza it’s easy to consume. It brings us pleasure. Music is the same, it’s meant to be enjoyed. As humans we created it to tell stories, share emotions, entertain us and ultimately make us happy. Popular bands like Mumford and Sons, Fun., The Lumineers and even The Beatles create music that is comparable to pizza or milkshakes—it’s hard not to like.
It makes zero sense that we’re able to punish or blame artists for becoming popular or making it big. After all, that is their career, musicians are relying on record sales (or iTunes song sales) to feed their dogs and pay off their student loans. Success, came by honestly with a good mix of hard work and natural talent, is something that should be celebrated. It’s not a bad thing that a song like Edward Sharpe’s “Home” Got over played; it’s the sign of a job well done. After all if musicians created music with the intention of keeping people from hearing it then what would be the point?
Last year in the early stages of the Vault I made the mistake of sharing an older song that I loved by a popular band. The song was “Walking The Dog” by Fun. I have a special connection to the band Fun. A few years ago I was dating an older guy that was interesting and sort of hip. We didn’t have a strong connection or a great amount of chemistry but we bonded over music tastes. He introduced me to Fun. and so I was a fan of Fun. before they got big. I was listening to their music before “We Are Young” was written, performed on Glee and quoted in the college kid’s twitter bios. It’s not a fantastic song, but in their defence I’m not entirely sure if I am saying that because the song itself is just not very good or because I got sick of hearing it. The song came out at the same time the Hashtag YOLO trend was in full swing. People couldn’t get enough of that live fast die young attitude and as a result “We Are Young” got way, over played and Lana Del Rey found herself a lucrative music career.
There is a difference between talented musicians writing good music who gain popularity as a result and singers who rely on their appearance or PR manager to sell records but as music-listener not creator I don’t believe I have any right to tell you what that difference is. All that matters is that there is music and that we keep it loud.