My friends listen to bands no one knows. I pretend to like the music they like, but secretly I love pop songs. I’ll take Kelly Clarkson over the latest moppy-haired angst band anytime, but I’m afraid to reveal my true nature for fear my friends will leave me. Please help me Loretta.
Dear Pop Lover,
Here’s my advice: TURN THAT KELLY CLARKSON UP!
That’s right! I’m a Kelly Clarkson fan, too! This means I already like
you very much! How wonderful for you!
But anyway … let’s turn our attention to your little problem.
While I’ve never personally gone through a period of self-doubt, I
have great empathy powers and I can understand what you’re
experiencing. I gather that you’re relatively young (probably in your
late teens or early 20s) and you’re mired in a period of
“too-cool-itis.” I’ve seen this before. It’s not pretty. Fortunately,
there’s a cure.
That cure is called growing the hell up.
You see, everyone (except me, of course), is forced to go
through a tough musical maturation period. This period is often
controlled by the leader of your social group. Think about it. You’ve
undoubtedly got someone at the forefront of your group of friends who
talks real loud and shouts down dissenting opinions quickly and with
great fervor. (Am I right? Of course I am!) The thing is, this
“friend” will someday take his or her rightful place in the dark and
rarely used recesses of your memory. This person is stunningly
irrelevant, both as a person and as a musical barometer. Think of it
philosophically: If an obnoxious teenager with deep self-confidence
issues tells you your music sucks, does his/her opinion really matter?
NO! Why would you listen to a stupid person! You wouldn’t!
Clearly, you’re surrounded by angry teens/20-somethings who have yet
to embrace their true musical natures. Oh sure, there are some people
who adopt a life-long cooler-than-thou attitude, but these poor souls
eventually take their rightful place on the margins of society (they
wear old CBGB t-shirts and become deejays or, gasp,
podcasters). But listen to me: These people don’t matter.
Still not convinced? Let me give you two real-world examples of
reformed pop lovers:
- My Mom — In her teens/20s, my Mom was the consummate
anti-popper. She dyed her hair and wore clunky shoes and listened to
bands like Operation Ivy and Fugazi. Her friends listened to the same
stuff and so they’d all sit around and talk about how
meaningful the music was and how the lyrics really spoke to
them (I’m not sure how they could actually hear the lyrics, but that’s
neither here nor there). As time went by my Mom eventually realized
that dyed hair isn’t much of a look and clunky shoes tend not to be
all that comfortable and, most importantly, the angry music of her
youth wasn’t really that good. Oh sure, she still has a soft spot for
those old bands, but now you’re far more likely to hear her crooning
(in a lovely voice!) a pop hit from the likes of Matchbox Twenty or
Michelle Branch or, your favorite, Kelly Clarkson. Now, I can’t answer
this definitively, but I would venture that my Mom is happier now. If
pressed she’ll say her happiness is because of her husband, but we all
know it’s really because she has a beautiful Baby Girl in her life.
Nonetheless, the pop music stuff figures in somewhere between the
husband and the Baby Girl, so you should take note. You should also
look into adopting a bulldog because we really do change lives.
- My Dad — Oh my Dad. He was/is such a dork. Back in his
teens/20s, he tried so hard to be “alternative.” He had a
flannel shirt from L.L. Bean (L.L. BEAN ISN’T ALTERNATIVE!) that he’d
wear and he grew his hair kind of long and he’d listen to bands like
Pearl Jam and Nirvana and think he was so anti-establishment.
Apparently, my Dad didn’t realize that Pearl Jam and Nirvana were both
in heavy rotation on corporate radio stations … but I digress. My
Dad’s alternativeness reached its peak in college when he became (I’m
so embarrassed by this), a deejay at his college radio station. He
claims he did it just for fun, but I know the truth: He wanted to be
known as a “music guy.” But here’s what’s really weird — he listened
to Pearl Jam and the angry stuff, but he also went to Phish concerts
and he got into the whole noodle-jam-band thing. Clearly, he was
searching for a genre to latch onto, but he never realized the depths
of his poseurness. That’s not a music guy! That’s a dork! Fortunately,
he grew up and met my Mom and discovered there was someone else out
there who enjoyed the pop stuff he was so ashamed to admit he liked.
Years later, they now listen to Michelle Branch at full blast and
revel in just how “hooky” it all is. It’s a sight to see!
So here’s the moral of the story: If you adopt a bulldog and accept
your love of pop music you’ll be very happy and wonderful.
Loretta the Musicologist