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The Thin Line

By Scant Regard;

The thin line – we’ve all been here….

I am sick of trying to think of an answer when someone asks me what type of music I like. “Oh, a wee bit of everything”, or “nothing you’ve ever heard of, you twat” are my two stock answers, depending on the audience.

I would consider my own music taste to be reasonably diverse – a wide ripple emanting from my essential love for The Beatles, REM, Eric Clapton and Frank Sinatra. I love pop,  I love swing, I love country, alt-country, americana, college rock, rock, folk, new folk, motown, soul, hip hop. This is not an exhaustive list, its just all the ones I can think of. I like these genres because I heard a song, and someone (a person, a shop, a magazine, a tv programme) told me that’s what type of music it was. And why?

Popular music is a funny thing.  It spawns a plethora of genres, descriptions, movements and feelings. Punks, goths, emos, suedeheads, shoegazers, indie kids, the list could go on and on, and all based around the sounds that can be teased from just three base instruments (four if I generously include the synf).

Much more than records, each of these groups has a scene – clothing, hairstyles, attitudes, all based around an inner group of 3, 4, maybe 5 people’s ability to write and play music together. Most are pitted against each other, believing theirs is the only right choice – as if the music you love can ever be a choice. Anyone tried to call a goth an emo?  Do it! watch their white face paint crack and crumble as their face contorts in anger! Hell, it even happens within the boxes – anyone approaching an age that starts with a 3 will remember the unholy shit storm that was Blur vs Oasis, or Nirvana vs Pearl Jam.

The mini debate going on here about post-rock made me think. I agree with both sides. There are some bands in there I like a lot, but the concept of “sonic experiments” and working to appreciate music is not my cup of tetley, frankly.

Sure, some definition helps us discern new music that we will like – it helps shape choices of magazines and music to purchase, gigs to go to, who to hate. But has this all gone too far? What is the difference between new rave and dance punk? Is there a faint line that can be drawn between alt-country, and americana? Have too many marketing people read “The long tail” and are trying to make tribes out of everyone?

I’m tired of pigeonholes and streotypes. I’m tired of trying to define a genre for every song I’ve ever heard, and I am tired of trying to decipher other people’s choices.

So from now on, my new answer to the question of what type of music I like is “good music”. Or possibly “Good music, you twat”, depending on the audience.

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2 Responses

  1. Usually gets easier as one gets older; I suppose one cares less what other people think, or about which ‘tribe’ they’re in.

    It is mostly marketing based I guess, although I am sure to the kids themselves it matters; although I can’t but laugh at the 500 identical goths hanging out near GOMA each Saturday being ‘different’….

    In the end the most liberating time of my life was Uni when I went without my school friends and so bought records, lots of them, on my own….I could make mistakes, take some back, go down new roads and avoid any ‘peer judgement’. That’s how it should be; despite the best attempts of Asda, Fopp, Amazon, Uncut and this fine blog music is subjective, and emotional, and is only really something that you can relate to, not explain.

  2. I always struggle when people ask me to define what music I like. I think ‘good music’ is a great answer!

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