Being the cerebral cat that I am [quite possibly the douchiest opening line ever], I like to revisit my beliefs from time to time and analyze how it is that I arrived at them. One recent finding is that I’m actually a secret hipster on the inside. I’ll explain.
I don’t consider myself to be a tastemaker. I’m tragically out of fashion in most regards, and I don’t really care to be on the cutting edge. I never have. I don’t feel the need to know about cool bands first, or know all the latest gossip (hell, even world events, for that matter). One thing I must always be, however, is peripheral. I don’t like to be included in the majority in practically any regard. For example, growing up, my video game console of choice was the Sega Genesis, the less successful of the two giants of the era. Now, it’s Xbox. Again, not the top dog. I play Sabian cymbals, the second most popular brand. I use Evans drumheads, also the number two brand. This goes on and on and on and on. This phenomenon has the interesting side-effect that I’m quite aware of the first-place option, in so much that I invariably reject it. I’m in the know about hip stuff, but I then chose to be in the “no” when it comes to the most popular thing. (See what I did there? I’m so clever it hurts.)
Admit it, you chuckled. I used to laugh at wordplay too, before it was cool
For a long time, I convinced myself that this was just a coincidence. I imagined that I was just always innocently drawn to these second options. I’ve since realized that this is not the case. Something in me just can’t bear to be with the majority, even on something so trivial as the software that I use to record music (Sonar, the 4th or 5th most popular). There is just some deep-seated connection that my brain makes where I equivocate people who like the most popular thing to people who just mindlessly do whatever is fashionable. I know it’s not true, I know it’s a silly prejudice that is likely some holdover from being the sort of weird punk-rocker kid in junior high who would make t-shirts that said “Abercrombie and Fitch sucks” to wear to school simply to annoy the jocks. (Nevermind that I was using inkjet shirt transfers and putting them on Hanes shirts, both decidedly un-punk concepts in and of themselves.) I just haven’t been able to drop this line of thinking.
The reason that I bring this up is that it has a couple of interesting effects on my interaction with music. First, I instinctively shun mainstream Top-40 music. Now, this isn’t all that unusual. Lots of people don’t like the banal, watered-down dirge of homogenized pop that sells a bajillion-gazillion records and gets “tributed” by being covered by airbrushed Old Navy mannequins on Glee, or gets a slow, passionate rendition on American Idol. This music is often thought to be produced via market research, band “factories”, and the like. I’m sure some of it is, but a lot of it isn’t. For whatever reason, I just don’t like it if it’s at that level of hugeness when I hear about it.
The second effect is that even if it’s something that I like initially, if it gets too big, I don’t like it. I can actually offer an example that covers both, believe it or not. Remember that “Somebody That I Used To Know” song from Gotye that was all over everywhere for about 6 weeks last year? Of course you do. It had the video, with the guy, and the paint, and the chick. You remember. Ok. Well, here’s a secret: I reeeeeally liked that song. I heard it practically by mistake on some weekend evening spent flipping through channels, on Fuse, or one of those other lesser music video stations. It was sandwiched in between a couple of songs from nobodies, and somehow I just naturally assumed it was just a well-written song from some guy who would probably quickly fade into obscurity because he wasn’t pretty enough, and the hook wasn’t about partying. So, I downloaded it and listened to it, probably quite a bit, over the next few weeks. Turns out I was wrong. That shit was bananas. The song was already a huge smash hit in most of the rest of the world, but being an incredibly cocky and out-of-touch American, I just didn’t know about it. It took all of a few days to have start having the same reception here. About a bajillion covers were made of it. It was performed on Glee, The Voice, and American Idol. Gotye started getting nominated for awards, playing talk shows and Saturday Night Live. And just like that; my interest faded. I pretty much just stopped listening to it, and actually found myself scoffing when I would hear it.
I think we all know someone like this
How stupid is that? Why the hell would I begrudge a talented person for their success? Why would I lose interest simply because I start hearing the song played in stores when I go shopping? It’s silly. I then started to realize that this phenomenon is linked to that other thing about not liking the best-selling option of things. I just don’t like it when stuff I like is liked by the masses. I should really stop it. I mean, I think it would be cool to have my music played on commercials and shit, and I wouldn’t want someone else to be turned off to it simply because it was. I should extend that same courtesy outwards, and stop being such a douche about it. So, I think this is something I’m just going to have to work on. We’ll call it my slightly-after-New Year’s resolution. Wish me luck.
Are you a secret hipster? Were you a secret hipster before it was cool enough to warrant a post about being a secret hipster? Are you going to condemn this man for his viewpoint? Sound off in the comments!