On the Smiths
We all have bands or genres that we just cannot abide.
For many, it’s the twangy pop of modern country — a genre rife with seeming self-parody that frequently intermingles hip-hop influences with folksy Southern roots amid U2-like pop-rock grandeur with none of the self-aware irony.
Or perhaps it’s electronic music — the unrelenting bombast of computer programmers without instruments digitizing sound effects to ape the dial-up tone we used to hear when logging into the internet for the first time. Maybe it’s trap with its hushed, slurred whispers muffled off-time over an alarm clock. Or the snoozefest that is the classical genre.
I have thought all these things and more, and yet I have continually found myself, given enough time, returning to these genres that I once abhorred with fresh ears and an open mind as the path that led me through metalcore, screamo, and grindcore eventually wound its way through the foothills of all these other genres.
Where once my dad’s country music made me groan, I suddenly found myself listening to artists like Dave Alvin, Cahalen Morrison, and the incomparable Johnny Cash. Where electronic music once gave me migraines, I found myself jamming out to synthwave acts like Perturbator, Carpenter Brut, and Waveshaper or listening to the epic soundscapes of Lights and Motion. Where classical used to put me to sleep within moments, I found myself voluntarily seeking out composers like Ennio Morricone and arrangements by Yo-Yo Ma.
Knowing your limits can always help you push beyond them and announcing your plans is a good way to make the gods laugh.
Exploring music is like exploring food. Food is a glorious thing as a whole, but that doesn’t preclude you from running up against some tastes that just don’t agree with you, or tastes that take time, care, attention, and cultivation to acquire.
Knowing what those distasteful things are is as important as knowing the things we love and can’t get enough of in identifying our music tastes. They help us curb and curate our collections, identify our favorite bands, our favorite records, our favorite songs. They affect how we discover new things and what we are exposed to.
Music taste, as with food taste, is a malleable, evolving thing that rarely (without pure ignorance or pure stubbornness) remains ultimately rigid.
However, some things never change, and one of those things is my loathing of The Smiths.