Coldplay, Bon Jovi, Kenny Chesney, Creed, Linkin Park, Luke Bryan, Dave Matthews Band, Nickelback, Garth Brooks and Kiss. A list of million selling artists? Artists nominated for major awards? Kings of radio airplay?
I did a little research online, and also talked to my musician friends, and these are some of the artists listed as belonging to the group of most-hated or least-respected artists. I’m a bit baffled honestly. Some of these folks are among my favorites, but apparently there are some real hard feelings out there.
I confess to liking a fair amount of Nickelback’s music (and I’ll now take a moment to duck…), but they seem to pop up frequently on the list. I found this quote about Nickelback that one person used to explain the animosity:
“the teenage girl is the most contemptible fan of all, and the mere suggestion that a band is popular with ‘the girlies’ may suffice to conjure the whiff of artistic failure.”
Maybe that’s it with Nickelback. Maybe not. But what about the rest. Some of it is clearly across genre lines. If you like rock music, you might hate hip-hop. If you like country, you might hate R & B. If you like jazz or classical, you may dislike everything else. I just don’t know what triggers these emotions, yet I try to be objective, even about artists or genres I don’t particularly care for.
If I put on my “musician” hat, it changes my perspective a bit—and I confess that my beliefs are different now than they were 10 or 20 years ago. Maybe that’s maturity or seasoning, maybe just a broadening of my musical horizons, but I am more open to different genres than ever before. I play all kinds of music. My original music is mostly Trop Rock, a genre whose definition is somewhat elusive and ambiguous, but I also play rock, country and pop and have played jazz, R & B, funk and classical in my lifetime. I believe that I like at least some part of all genres, and a glance at my Ipod would verify that. So what’s the deal?
I think we all have comfort zones and we can get caught in ruts with music just like any other aspect of our lives. I didn’t like country music at all—or so I thought—until my wife introduced me to it. I wasn’t a big fan of Jimmy Buffet for years, because all I heard on the radio was Fins, Margaritaville and Cheeseburger in Paradise and those don’t tell the full story. Buffett has lots of gems buried on his albums that many Buffett-haters have never heard. Give them a listen. Besides that, musicians get really jaded when we have to play songs over and over. That still doesn’t mean we shouldn’t play them when requested, right? If my listeners are happy, then I’m happy. I do have an occasional bad flashback to Free Bird and Stairway to Heaven, however.
I also have found that musicians can be purists within their own genre. For example, I have friends who play traditional country music and disparage artists like Garth Brooks, Luke Bryan and Kenny “Cheese-ney”. I’m not being critical or naming names (you know who you are J), but I can’t discount the tastes of fans who might like both traditional and “new” country. I believe that if you give them some of what they want, they are more likely to listen to what you want them to hear. Besides, I happen to be a huge Kenny Chesney fan and have seen him numerous times in concert. All of his shows have been exceptionally entertaining—to me—so who knows how other people think.
So I guess the question comes down to “why does someone play music?” If your purpose is to only play music you love, you can do that in the comfort of your own home. If your purpose is to make people happy, or to expose people to new music they may not know, why not give them some of what they want to keep them around long enough to listen to what you want to put out there for them? I feel like I’m fortunate to play music for people, so I try to make sure the dialogue goes both ways. This is just my opinion, and I’m not criticizing anybody. But if I listened to only the music I thought I liked, my Ipod would only have a few artists on it. Now it’s got a lot of artists, some of them guilty pleasures. What does it hurt to be open to new things?