There’s nothing like the feel of elitism. Whether it’s a road bicyclist sneering at a passing fixter’s inferior gear ratio or a shaven swimmer scolding a newbie in a lap lane, elitism gives people a real edge to hone – especially in these times of ingenuous mediocrity.
My favorite elitist outlet is music. That’s probably why I’m the California Aggie’s arts editor now. After writing multiple hasty album reviews about why I’m better than Weezer, Dragonforce or Mims, I had to get somewhere, right?
And of course, being right is the pinnacle of any opinion. You might really be wrong, biased or simply unfair about some band you can’t stand, but who cares? It’s still fun as hell to blast your friend that taps along to a crappy hit on the radio, or make fun of him or her once you’re out of the car.
That’s the thing about music – everyone has an opinion about it, because music is so devastatingly popular. Donald Trump said it on “Da Ali G Show“ once – music is the most popular thing in the world (if Trump knows anything, it’s how to make a powerful blanket statement). That might be devastatingly obvious, but even Miley Cyrus likes music, and she doesn’t know anything about it.
Everyone has tastes when it comes to music. More specifically, everyone has enough of an opinion about music to defend their tastes. We all like a very specific set of music and can’t stand a good amount of the rest. As much as we love to “branch out” and appreciate that new avant-garde group a friend linked us to, the song will never reach more than a few solid plays.
Then there are those people who proudly proclaim they like everything when it comes to music. They’re liars. These people know that their music taste roughly ranges from Christina Aguillera to the Dave Matthews Band (the latter for those “eclectic” summer nights). Such people don’t know anything, so never take their musical tastes seriously.
But not everyone has musical taste. That’s where the elitism comes in. People who live and breathe music – I’m talking trained, experienced experts, not indie scenesters or Dave Matthews Band fans – can critique and argue with authority, while fans who simply roll the tape likely can’t. This isn’t to say that someone’s musical opinion is invalid; it’s to say that the director of the L.A. Philharmonic probably knows a little more about music itself than you do.
That’s because music is a field of study just as much as it is a field of interest. Those with musical training and experience can methodologically prove that Pearl Jam is as boring as Céline Dion. They probably wouldn’t stoop to something so obvious, but that’s not the point. And at the same time, people solely accompanied by their opinions can (and will) try to refute such claims with blanket phrases like “all music is subjective” and “taste depends on the listener.” And they’d be wrong.
Music is something that anyone can hold against someone. It’s a tool that can give you a glimpse into someone’s personality just with a look through their Facebook info. You could probably predict a person’s favorite food or the kind of car they drive by looking through their iTunes. Yeah, it obviously depends on the criteria in question, but either way someone’s righteously right and someone’s dead wrong. The listener’s opinions ultimately give them the upper hand, giving them the reckless, superior, vehement ability to tell someone else that their music sucks.
JUSTIN T. HO would appreciate e-mails telling him how you’d love MUSE to be strictly comprised of one-star album reviews for the rest of the year. E-mail him at email@example.com.