Some of my friends/housemates/musical cognoscenti (who for the purposes of this column, I will collectively refer to as Latrice Royale) accuse me of liking and listening to the same six songs over and over again. Despite my many attempts at disproving them, the allegation is accurate. A few caveats for the sake of feeble redemption: I constantly rotate my roster of said six songs. Plus, whereas Latrice knew all about Animal Collective and Kate Bush in elementary school, I was once ridiculed into tears when asked about B-Spears’ latest album during my fifth-grade Secret Santa.
In the piece of mountainous land I call home, there is no such knowledge of Pitchfork or indie pop, so I had to fend for myself in the safe vacuum of my bedroom when it came to new music. As such, I bounced around the genre. At 13, I bobbed my head to the stale beats of arena rock, and for that I’m not sorry. I developed a fondness for European electronic/house music that I never quite outgrew. Le gasp! I even had one of those screamo phases, checkerboard Vans shoes included and the latest of The Blood Brothers single always in queue!
In high school, MTV Latinoamérica introduced me to Interpol and the band became my gateway drug to “better” music. Down the hole I went, experiencing one epiphany after another as I bumped into new discoveries. From Queen to Daft Punk, from Beck to Zoé and now that hot bitch Azealia Banks — my quest for new tunes is akin to the trajectory of a floating leaf.
That’s not to say I’m aimless. I may drift, but I still control the direction of my musical winds. For instance, I don’t guide my search for new music based on artists. Liking a band’s new single does not imply I will enjoy all of their work. I only have one MGMT song, but I hate the rest of their material, yet I recently downloaded the entire New Order discography because I adore them.
The question “Can I dance to this song and/or do I want to listen to it 10 times in a row?” is now the yardstick by which I measure all prospective entries into my iPod, and the answer must always be yes. It might be why I have no favorite artist. Yet taste can only go so far, and mine is certainly limited and asymmetrical, unapologetically so.
A couple of ground rules:
No rap music for my Zune — nice job Tha Carter, but your lyrics are unintelligible to my slow ear.
My heart has a sweet spot for female vocalists: Blondie, Robyn, Grimes. I barely own more than 600 songs and I assume that a third of them are just women telling my whole life with their words.
Latrice, on the other hand, has almost 25,000 songs in her music catalogue! What the what?! I could never hope to achieve such a dubious prowess. For someone with narrow preferences like myself, it would take me years of searching, horizon-expanding, and illegal downloading to reach those levels of conspicuous consumption. I’m a curator and Latrice is a collector.
After all, I don’t think Latrice can claim to like every song in her iTunes. She definitely has songs with a play count of zero. I can’t help but wonder if Latrice only downloaded these particular tracks so she can merely claim to have them, as if she’d been a lame charlatan otherwise.
I realize that my music library will always be playing catch-up with that of my savvy pals, and I’m okay with that. Indeed, it may mean Latrice will become an influential music critic while I punch the clock at McKinsey. But such a probable fate makes me all the more proud and grateful to learn from them now, while they can still deign me with their carefully constructed playlists. In fact, musical snobbery (or a vast appreciation of music history and various genres, yada yada yada) has sometimes become a bit of an essential when gauging how much I esteem new acquaintances. As disingenuous as I may sound, if you only listen to Brit-Brit these days: begone!