We’ve all been there, your token hipster buddy’s got his new ipod dock out and asks you to hand your pod over so you can jam some Radiohead (or TV on the Radio, ‘Drum’s Not Dead’ era Liars, The National, Kasabian, or other suitably hip band) and when they’re scrolling through your artists to get to their intended choice of music they suddenly stop because they’ve just noticed that you have Lady GaGa on your ipod.
- Kiss your indie-cred goodbye!
But wait! Before you panic, remember that it’s still possible to save some face. As someone who has both force others to justify their music taste, and had to justify my own on many occasions, I have a sort of expertise in the field of music others will make you feel ashamed of for listening to, and believe me when I say there is hope. Presented here is a list of ways in which you can salvage your social trainwreck and get away with just a few scratches.
The “Just One Song” Defense
The “Just One Song” Defense is one of the most common defense tactics used to justify an out of place item of music. This defense is simple and is based on the idea of just one artist/song/album/whatever, being a minor offense. “Look,” this defense says, “Clearly my taste in music is acceptable, so what if I have one All-American Rejects album? I like their first album, so sue me.” (Fun fact: I do like AAR’s first album…a lot. It’s good, really!) This defense can usually take the heat off of you, but it relies on one very important thing: that you only have ONE embarrassing song/artist/album on said ipod/playlist/whatever. It’s one thing to write off having “Get Low” as your one mainstream song on a dance music playlist, it’s another thing if you’ve got “Get Low”, “Buy U A Drank”, “Hips Don’t Lie”, and “In Da Club” all needing justification.
The Friend Defense
The Friend Defense is another common defense tactic that is useful in a variety of situations, but hard to make convincing. In spite of the name, it doesn’t necessarily require a specific friend; it works on the principal of it not being your fault because somebody else put it there, or asked you to put it there, for whatever reason. “Oh, James downloaded that!” or “Kelly said I just had to hear this one song by them” or “I was just going to delete this after I burned Tim a copy,” are all examples of the Friend Defense. As I’ve said before, the Friend Defense does not, necessarily, require a specific friend; as an amatuer DJ I’ve often used the defense of, “It was a requested song,” to justify the occasional embarrassing mainstream hip-hop/pop tune. This defense can work quite well, but generally falls apart around the time they notice that the song is on your top rated playlist and has two hundred plays in your library.
The Redemption Defense
The Redemption Defense is a tactic commonly employed by people who feel that all of the bands that they like are bands worthy of gaining one hipster cred, even if they don’t already. The main strength of this defense is that appeals to the logic of others, by giving a reasonable explanation for why a band isn’t as bad as a person thinks they are. The main weakness to this defense is that the band you want to defend has to have some redeeming value. A good example of the Redemption Defense put into action is the justification of listening to U2 (particularly the last few albums, no one questions Joshua Tree) by pointing out all of Bono’s philanthropic work.
The “I Knew Them Before They Were Popular” Defense
While the IKTBTWP Defense might not have a particularly catchy name, or acronym, it is a very effective defense, given that you can prove that what you’re saying is true. The logic behind it is this: if you knew a band when they were still “indie” than for you to listen to them is still somewhat “indie” even if they are now popular. When formerly “indie” bands like Modest Mouse and The Shins start to become somewhat mainstream, diehard hipsters will start to turn up their noses, but if you can prove that you got into Modest Mouse back when “Building Nothing out of Something” came out, you can justify your love for the band. Even bands that never had indie cred can be justified this way, just as long as you can prove you were listening to them before anyone else. If this wasn’t true and you can’t lie about it, then this defense becomes problematic.
The Nostalgia Defense
The Nostalgia Defense is truly a fabulous one, and one that can be used to justify almost anything you listen to. All you have to do is claim some memories are associated with the music, and people will generally leave you alone for it. If you put on Backstreet Boys in front of a group of 90’s kids, everyone will laugh and poke fun, but on the inside they’ll all be reliving some of their best (and worst) pre-teen moments. I often use this defense to justify my love of Snow Patrol, who is one of my favourite bands, but who lost all the indie cred they once had when Eyes Open came out. Considering that I started listening to Snow Patrol about six years ago though, I have a wealth of memories associated with the band, and as such they will always have a place in my heart. The best part about this defense is that they don’t have to know that, in many cases, you would like the band in question even without nostalgiac value. The main issue with this defense is that not every band you might try to justify has even been around for six years, and even if they have when you started listening to them is definitely a factor. Claiming that the band is nostalgiac ’cause you heard them at a sweet party last week will not save you from the ridicule of others.
The Blackmail Defense
When you’re desperate to hang out to your indie cred and running out of options The Blackmail Defense can be your friend. It is not a pretty tactic, but one does what one has to in these situations. Even your most “hipper-than-thou” friends have musical skeletons in their closet, and if you can find one, you can use it against them. “So what if I like, 3oh!3,” you say, “You listen to Shakira!” or “Who cares if I like Thursday? You own Korn’s entire discography on vinyl!” While it’s a dirty tactic and it certianly won’t win you any points, it can still save you some face. The only real issue with this tactic is that you have to know of a terrible band that the person pointing out your embarrassing taste likes.
Youa re unlikely to ever find yourself in a situation where one of these defenses won’t be good enough to cover your ass, but if you are, or even if you aren’t, you could, always just tell them to fuck off and that you don’t care what they think. You could tell them off for judging you and walk out, head held high, leaving them in a more confused state than they were after hearing Morrissey’s recent re-release of Maladjusted (ziiiiiing!), but who is really going to do that? So much of life is about keeping up appearances, and we all do it, whether we admit it or not. So remember this article the next time you get caught with something embarrassing on your ipod, and for now, here’s a little song that I thought was an appropriate closer to this article.
HelloLion is a contributing author here at projectgroupthink’s fantabulous blog of wonderous knowledge. You can spend less time anxiously hitting the refresh button on this page every ten minutes by following our tweets @pgtblog.