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23 Responses

  1. Annaham
    Annaham June 10, 2010 at 7:38 am |

    I love this post.

  2. Beck
    Beck June 10, 2010 at 8:41 am |

    Tori got me through highschool too! You’re lucky to have met her. Sadly I’m not that into her newer stuff. But Under the Pink, Little Earthquakes, Boys for Pele…..I once had an online moniker :Fascist_little_panties…love her.

  3. Steph
    Steph June 10, 2010 at 8:49 am |

    Yes!!! I too have struggled with rockism, but I think I might be over it.

  4. Kathy
    Kathy June 10, 2010 at 8:57 am |

    I’ve always had lots of guy friends who were either into music as superfans, or in bands themselves, so I’m pretty familiar with rockism. Once I realized I was only accepted as “one of the boys” when I didn’t challenge their choices, I let myself enjoy pop music. (By the way, I kind of refer to most contemporary music as “pop.” Most inveterate rock snobs hate this.)

  5. Jo
    Jo June 10, 2010 at 8:58 am |

    I basically listen to all metal all the time: black metal, funeral doom metal, folk metal, blackened folk metal, pagan metal, ambient black metal, ambient folk doom pagan metal, you name it. And it’s the most bloke-dominated music genre I can think of. As a feminist, it makes my inner “this ain’t right!” radar go BEEP BEEP but I just. can’t. help loving it. Aargh.

    I’m definitely on the same page re: eye-rolling at the “pop is for GIRLS therefore not to be taken seriously unlike manly men music like indie rock” belief so prevalent in media outlets and popular (!) opinion. So frustrating.

  6. Wendell
    Wendell June 10, 2010 at 9:53 am |

    Kathy, that’s a striking observation about being “one of the boys.” I know some guys who preface a differing opinion about music by saying it might be controversial. Dear me, anything but that! ;)

    For a while I was mired in “serious,” music (though mostly not rock). Then a (male) friend of mine led me to pull out my B-52s tape of “Cosmic Thing” and it was all over.

  7. Wendell
    Wendell June 10, 2010 at 9:57 am | has some ideas that could show why pop is so worthwhile. We as individuals might try to legitimize our liking it (See Sarah’s astute calling out of the phrase “guilty pleasure”), but pop itself doesn’t seem to do that. Compare that to the industry involved in legitimizing “rock” and those who couch their own tastes behind “objective” legitimization, and you can show just how conservative rock (and its so-called “rebellion”) can be. I could be overstretching the idea, though.

  8. scrumby
    scrumby June 10, 2010 at 10:19 am |

    This is a lesson I always have to be reminded of it seems. My older brother was a huge influence on my musical choices; he was the guy who brought me to my first punk show and burned me best of Slayer mixes. I felt an incredible amount of pressure to live up to his standard of taste which was sad because he was surprisingly sensitive to mine. After finding my hidden Pet Shop Boys and Duran Duran CD’s he introduced me to Joy Division and David Bowie; After finding country on my presets he made me a Loretta Lynn/Leonard Skinner/ Southern Culture on the Skids mix. I’m a lot less guarded about my musical selections around him now but he still catches me by surprise sometimes. A little while ago he and I were on the way back from a Deathclock show and discussing the video they had shown which lead to videos in general. Suddenly he pipes up with “speaking of videos, have you seen the new Lady Gaga? It’s awesome.”

  9. Isabel
    Isabel June 10, 2010 at 12:45 pm |

    (By the way, I kind of refer to most contemporary music as “pop.” Most inveterate rock snobs hate this.)

    Ha, me too – a habit I’ve picked up from a having a slightly disproportionate number of classical-music-type friends & a deep fondness for it myself – my two big music categories are “classical” and “pop.”

    I heart this post. & I might add that rock is – or, perhaps more accurately, has since the days of Elvis been largely perceived as – a very white-dominated genre, which isn’t nearly as true of pop – not in the days of disco (a genre which in particular is also notable for its association with gay culture), not now during the chart-topping reign of hip-hop & R&B.

  10. Cole Grey
    Cole Grey June 10, 2010 at 1:19 pm |

    You handcuffed your boyfriend to a chair? I really hope that was completely consensual, but cuffing someone down and making them listen to music they don’t like doesn’t sound like a pre-negotiated scene to me.

  11. A Musician
    A Musician June 10, 2010 at 3:41 pm |

    my two big music categories are “classical” and “pop.”

    Me too. (Although I also throw in music theater as its own category). Sometimes I try to avoid offending rock snobs by lengthening “pop” to “popular,” but sometimes I don’t.

    Personally (although I definitely don’t speak for all professional musicians here), I think all my musical training and education actually makes me MORE equipped to appreciate different types of music for their own merits. And pretty much all music has SOME merits.
    Of course, some trained musicians take the opposite approach. In my experience, these people are typically (but not always) dudes. They’ll pick a musical period or two and 5-6 pop (pop, rock, alternative, whatever the categories are) artists, and declare all other music to be worthless crap. I had a roommate in undergrad who jeopardized her GPA by absolutely refusing to engage with anything from the Romantic period (which is, in a way, the “pop” of classical music, in that it’s accessible and its complexities aren’t as subtle as other periods). I also knew a guy who would make instant judgments about people’s character and intelligence based on their opinion of Elliot Carter. And an accompanist who bitched and moaned about ever having to play Jason Robert Brown, because apparently taking Jason Robert Brown seriously is like the WORST THING EVER or something.

    Personally, I think they’re all full of crap. I sing opera pretty much exclusively, (and I pass the “are you smart enough to understand Elliot Carter” test with flying colors) but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the way Ke$ha’s music has almost created a brand new way to use the human voice. I mean, combining the possibilities of modern electronic music with a hybrid of singing and rap AND certain inflections that almost tempt me to call it Sprechstimme (the Schoenberg version, not the music theater version) (Gosh I hope there are some geeks who know what I’m talking about reading this)…I think that’s pretty damn cool. Am I saying that Ke$ha’s the great artist of our time? No. But I am saying that her music has worth and value and that she (or whoever’s behind her music) has made a real, substantial contribution.

  12. A Musician
    A Musician June 10, 2010 at 3:44 pm |

    *Smart enough to understand Elliott Carter is one thing, smart enough to spell his name correctly is apparently another, lol. I fail.

  13. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin June 10, 2010 at 4:32 pm |

    My mother was a huge influence regarding my musical tastes. It was her vinyl albums of 60’s and 70’s rock that formed the backbone of what I enjoy now. As a result, I have the soul of a rocker and a fondness for melodic pop. Mom jests that she made me a music snob, and she’s right!

    Like you, I’ve been through phases and infatuations with different groups and different sounds, but there’s always going to be a default kind of musical setting I return to over and over again. I used to feel guilty that the stuff I wrote and the stuff I liked wasn’t as broad and expansive as I thought it needed to be, but….meh. That’s just who I am and what I like.

  14. Isabel
    Isabel June 10, 2010 at 9:11 pm |

    A Musician: I want to doodle little hearts all over your comment, I love it so!

  15. aine
    aine June 11, 2010 at 10:49 am |

    It’s funny, I was JUST thinking about what you said at the beginning of this post. all the music I’ve wanted to listen to lately is guys…mostly 90s-grungey/alternative rocker guys. which is a normal phase for me to go in and out of, despite my love of Tori and Ani and Natalie Merchant, because I grew up with parents who liked so many different kinds of music- but it really does shock people (guys). I ran into someone I hadn’t seen for a while the other day, and when he asked me what I was listening to lately, I said, “oh, a lot of 90s stuff….Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Pavement, Mark Lanegan…” and he was legitimately shocked, because I’m this quiet girl standing there in a sweater set and a flowery skirt, I guess…

  16. HECTOP
    HECTOP June 11, 2010 at 10:58 am |

    I don’t mean to be rude, but I don’t understand what the point of this post is. I think it’s either that hating pop makes you sexist, or that hating a band because they’re “not serious” enough is dumb. In all honesty, I don’t even know what constitutes as “pop.” Hell, I don’t even know if there’s a thick or thin line between pop and… the stuff that isn’t pop (rock? isn’t that umbrella term kind of meaningless at this point?). I don’t really agree with either of the conclusions proposed (if those even are the conclusions proposed…), but I’d like to hear more before I rant or something.

  17. Gembird
    Gembird June 11, 2010 at 4:21 pm |

    As a miscellaneous person in black who listens to angry music a lot, I only have this to say:

    Sarah, you are right and awesome and cool. And good pop music is really, really good.

    It really does bother me that some guys get annoyed if you listen to pop music, or even some of the less macho rock music (for example HIM, who are so darn cheesy but also awesome) because “We thought you were better than that.” What, so in order to be respected by you I have to only listen to music made by dudes about being dudely dudes? Just- no. Way to devalue women’s contributions to music after you already made them too uncomfortable around you to make the kind of music you actually like.

    To me, music is music and I shouldn’t feel ashamed of liking something just because it’s seen as too feminine. I sometimes still do though. Reading articles like this one (and the comments, thank you everyone) definitely helps, because I know it’s not just me who finds it hard to deal with the stuff I took on board without noticing. So yeah, I will stop talking about me now and just say thanks for writing this.

  18. A Different Sarah
    A Different Sarah June 12, 2010 at 4:56 am |

    I really liked Robyn when she first came out in the 90’s and had wondered what happened to her. I’m really, really disappointed that she’s jumped on the whole robotic-pop bandwagon with Lady Gaga et al. When she came out she was just a normal girl who wrote and sang pop songs about normal life stuff with a good deal of gusto–not hyper-sexualised, but not squeaky-clean-smiley-virgin either. “Show Me Love” was a simple song about simple desires sang with lots and lots of feeling. This shit I hate because I just cannot relate to it. What I demand of music is that it be sincere. To some that would make me a rockist, but really I’m into every genre except for polka, Strauss waltzes, and robo-music.

  19. Isabel
    Isabel June 12, 2010 at 5:03 am |

    a different sarah – I heart this song deeply, but if you did like Robyn back in the day, check out Be Mine!, Eclipse, With Every Heartbeat, Dancing On My Own, & Hang With Me, as a sampling from her two more recent albums of Robyn-with-lots-of-feelings.

  20. A Different Sarah
    A Different Sarah June 12, 2010 at 6:47 am |

    Well, I didn’t really dig those 2 new Robyn songs, but thanks anyway…I do love “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” though! And of course it’s a sincere song: Cyndi Lauper sincerely wants to have fun, like all us girls, and furthermore in the video she looks like she’s sincerely having it! :-)

  21. SW
    SW June 12, 2010 at 7:25 am |

    I love this post!
    I’ve been thinking about Robyn a lot lately – no matter how much I gush about how fun her music is, how sincere she seems, so many of my friends just dismiss her outright, or condescendingly shake their heads at me. I had an extended argument with my boyfriend earlier today; after about twenty minutes of him ranting about evil media complexes and robotic commercial pop stars, I think I managed to get him to admit he enjoyed it on some basic level.

    (By the way, I’m pretty sure the “you scan me” lyric is actually “jag älskar dig” – Swedish for “I love you”)

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