At Lawrence, we have very diverse tastes in music. Yet for all of the diversity, we can often have strong opinions on the tastes of others. I freely admit that I have unfairly judged people for their tastes in music, but today I want to turn that around, and since I write for The Lawrentian, I expect a large portion of you to join me.
I hardly make an effort to inform myself on the happenings in pop culture. I don’t listen to the radio, and my current menu of television shows include “The Rachel Maddow Show,” “The Office” and “Archer,” most of which I watch online. I’m not even “up on” popular Internet memes and videos, often needing my friends to explain their references such as “hide yo’ kids, hide yo’ wife” — which is unfortunate since I am still quoting it, and everyone else has moved on.
Sometimes, I do like to follow search trends on my Bing homepage — which I use because of the awesome pictures, despite the fact that I am a Mac user and the search engine is horrible. The other day I saw a name that I was slightly familiar with: “Justin Bieber.”
I learned from Wikipedia that Bieber is a 16-year-old Canadian-born pop artist. I learned from the rest of the Internets that the young girls go crazy for him through a phenomenon sometimes called “Bieber Fever,” and that people over the age of 13 are not only to dislike his music, but also to hate him as a person.
Apparently, reasons to hate Bieber include the fact that he fancies himself the next Kurt Cobain — just misunderstood — although puberty is doing a number on his boy soprano voice. But honestly, what do you expect? He’s a 16-year-old pop star; of course he has an under-served ego!
I have heard his voice only once. While I was driving my 13-year-old cousin somewhere over winter break, she turned on the radio and started singing along to a chorus containing only the word, “Baby.” I asked her, “Who is this lady?” after which I was schooled — with a great deal of sass — on who Justin Bieber was.
Personally, I didn’t like the music. But the music wasn’t made for me; it was made for 13 year-old girls like my cousin. So I, unlike snooty critics and bloggers, am going on with my life, listening to the music I enjoy. However, laughing at the sophomoric links and articles I found through Bing made me remember my previous vendettas against pop culture.
Last year, I learned that the person singing “Ra ra, shish cumba,” — or something — very loudly in Hiett parties was pop sensation Lady Gaga, who apparently likes to dress in meat.
For a while, I tried to ignore her, yet when a song pounds above you every weekend, it has a way of sticking with you. In later conversations with fellow music majors, I learned that Gaga was formerly a music student in New York, and that if I gave her another chance, I would come to enjoy her music.
I gave her that chance, and came to hate her. My arguments with friends spanned Facebook and the real world alike — so you know they were intense. Eventually, I called her, along with American Idol, a symbol of everything that is wrong with pop culture.
I now regret that statement. While I still do not like her music, I have learned — with the help of Associate Professor of Music Julie McQuinn — to reconsider my hierarchies of music and to not place one form above another, or at least try not to.
I realized that I was being a “hater,” as we used to say in middle school, and knew that I should stop “drinking the Haterade,” especially since I actually do enjoy some pop music. When I’m not pumping Mahler through my speakers, I listen to artists such as Kanye West, the Black Eyed Peas, Fall Out Boy — may they rest in peace — and Maroon 5.
While I know that I have lost the respect of some of you for listing some, if not all, of these artists, I personally do not care. I’m also sure that for every unknown indie or underground band you like, there is someone that thinks your music choices are just as sold-out and commercial as the rest.
There is a reason why these artists sell millions: It is because they are popular. That’s why they call it “pop culture.” So yes, keep your preferences in music, but know that your hate is not making pop culture any weaker; if anything, it only draws more attention to the artists. In other words: Don’t hate the player, hate the game.