Weekend: 12.21.08

How often do we genuinely love the music we listen to?

I think, more often than we realize, the music we listen to is simply a social tool used to meet arbitrary standards set by our peers. If we were all free from judgment from our "tastemaker" friends--the friends who wear plaid skirts, watch Dexter and listen to Ghostland Observatory--wouldn't we all listen to the processed crap we hear on the radio without hesitation?

I'm sure others have debated this exact point in more concise terms than I, but once again, a fantastic article on Hipster Runoff got me thinking. I mean, why is so many great pop songs (Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone") shunned by the cool kids while Rihanna's "Umbrella" is embraced? Almost as if Rihanna won some hipster lottery, enabling her to be accepted by all music lovers. How stupid.

All people want to feel good. Human nature has programmed us this way. Pop music, on the whole, makes people feel good. It's shiny and electric, filled with hooks and musical connections that send out reinforcing pulses in our brains--the same pulses that one feels upon the completion of a puzzle or a book. (We won't get complicated, but a good musical hook is like a puzzle being solved by the mind over and over again. When the song sounds synchronous and beautiful, our brains feel accomplished.) Basically, I'm saying human beings would likely listen to pop music above other types of music because it's so accessible and can make us feel good easier.

Personally, I've noticed that no matter which song or artist I'm listening to--50 Cent, Sheryl Crow, MGMT, Of Montreal--it's just pop. I don't listen to MGMT's psychodelia. I don't about Crow's country recordings. I pick and choose the songs that most fit this unfortunate "pop" recess in my music library.

Case-in-point: I drunkenly downloaded two Shania Twain albums a few weeks ago (the total truth--long, long story), and the only songs I genuinely listen to are the poppiest of the bunch. I avoid the heartier stuff.

So what is this "thing" about pop music? Is it just me? Do we listen to music that makes us feel good?

(I know plenty of people that listen to gloomy music to make them feel worse--a sad kind of spiral.)

Conclusion to be added when I think of something.

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