Music Isn’t Marriage

From Mumford & Son’s music video, “Hopeless Wanderer”

A friend recently posted this article on Facebook and then all their friends piled on the Mumford Hatred Train toward Angrytown.

The gist of the article was: “The music Mumford & Sons makes is very bad…It’s so calculated that there’s absolutely nothing unexpected, organic, or progressive that comes from the music. The sound is so bland and average that it’s offensive.”

All I can really say is: Who cares? Go sit by an open window. Play with a puppy. Do whatever it is you need to do in order to calm down about other people listening to music that you don’t like.

I grew up on the Beatles, Styx, and the soundtrack to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I think it’s safe to say that while I was raised to enjoy music, I wasn’t raised with the knowledge of what was supposed to make it objectively “good.”

In elementary school I was encouraged to play a musical instrument, and I chose the trumpet out of rebellion (“The trumpet is for boys, you say? Step aside, please.”) Then I spent five years only enjoying the damn thing when I got a solo. So basically, the Apollo 13 Main Title.

All this to say, I never bothered to learn how to hear intricacies, and I don’t really care if a chord progression is particularly difficult. I don’t share your criteria for what makes music “good.” I only have two criteria for music:

  1. Can I dance to it?
  2. Does it make me feel emotions?

If the answer to either of these is yes, I like it. Does that make it “good”? No. But who cares?

Sure, Avril rhymed the word “dead” with “dead.” But I listened to that album nonstop anyway, despite the soul-crushing lyric. Who cares? Who have I hurt? Assuming that I listened to Avril “Let’s talk this over/it’s not like we’re dead” Lavigne on my own time, in my own headphones, purchased with my own babysitting money, what harm is there in the world? Four minutes wasted, at worst. Or maybe one more wealthy person who doesn’t deserve wealth. And if that’s what has your undies in a bundle, your efforts could be better spent on social change elsewhere, my friend.

Music isn’t marriage. There isn’t a finite number of songs you can like. Music is like friendships, and each one is great at certain times. Sure, some are best friends, some are acquaintances. But each friend has a time and place. Do I bring my quiet, bookish friend to a dance club? No, I bring the friend who buys tequila shots without asking.

The problem that maybe ultimately irks you is that I can like “terrible” music and still like Dr. Dre or Vampire Weekend or Metallica or whoever you think qualifies. You can’t stop me from liking both.

Sometimes bad music is fun. Sometimes I need a song that does nothing but tell me to put my hands in the air. You know why? Because I love being in a crowd doing synchronized dance like I’m in a teen movie from 1999. And the easiest synchronized dance move (even easier than Cha Cha Slide) is raising your hands above your head and then keeping them there for an extended period of time. Don’t take that away from me. Don’t take away my Ke$ha just because you need more substance in your music.

Some people like ICP. Some people like Nickelback. Some people like music that doesn’t do anything for you, Mr. Music Snob. Who cares? “Bad” music isn’t going to go away, so go sit in a corner, turn your Led Zeppelin up to 11, and quietly rock back and forth until the pain goes away. Quit putting your negative music vibes out in the world and let people love things you don’t agree with.

If you want to judge me for liking Mumford and Sons, I can’t stop you. I judge people, too. We all do. But I don’t go around screaming my judgments from the mountaintop. I keep them hidden behind eye rolls and passive aggressive sighing, like the WASP I was raised to be. The WASP who was raised on Rolling Stones and Raffi, and doesn’t care who knows it.