I like putting down other people’s music. It’s a little hobby of mine, right up there with killing homeless people for sport. People sometimes ask me “Dude, could you stop being such a bitch?” which I assume means “Dude, how can I become as well-versed and musically cultured as you are?” Fact is, one cannot simply turn up one’s nose at any band that more than twelve people have heard of and call it a day. It took me years to master the subtleties and nuances in order to reach the level of elitism that I now enjoy.
1. Listen to Better Music
If you’re going to smugly look down on other people’s inferiority, it’s important that you have a pedestal to stand on. No self-respecting music snob listens to emo, alternative, or modern rock. Sorry. Ditto for pop and rap. You could try being a Coldplay fan, but keep in mind that your fellow snobs will laugh at you and quote The 40 Year Old Virgin. (though, to be fair, those of us who are “in the know” were calling Coldplay “gay” well before that movie came out.)
A true snob picks his preferences carefully so as to be immune from reciprocation; “untouchable,” if you will. I, for example, am partial to most forms of metal: black metal, doom metal, death metal (but only good death metal*– more on that later), sludge, and most other bands that aren’t named Killswitch Engage or As I Lay Dying. I also like pretentious intellectual crap: King Crimson, Return to Forever, Genesis (but only early Genesis– more on that later), Frank Zappa, Jethro Tull, and most other bands that are generally hated by the punk rock crowd.
Notice what kind of position this puts me in. If I don’t like your music, it’s because it sucks. If you don’t like my music, it’s because either 1. you’re a wuss and can’t handle it, or 2. you’re one of the muddled masses who just don’t get it. See? Untouchable!
*Good death metal = Anata, Decrepit Birth, and Spawn of Possession. Bad death metal = Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, and Kataklysm.
2. Be Selective
Some people like country. Some people like classic rock. But a true music snob should never apply any sort of blanket statement to their own tastes. This prevents the possibility that anything falling under the umbrella of what the snob deems acceptable will ever accidentally become popular.
Before 1994, there were plenty of snobs with comfortable positions as death metal listeners. Then Cannibal Corpse shows up and plays one of their songs in the movie Ace Ventura, being cited by Jim Carey as one of his favorite bands. Then, CC’s album Vile becomes the first death metal album to make it onto the Billboard 200 chart, peaking at position 151. Elitists everywhere were screwed!
But the smart ones were safe. They say that on the seventh day, God rested, but he actually used the extra day to create qualifiers. Thanks to qualifiers, prepared snobs could say “Well, Cannibal Corpse isn’t real death metal. That stuff is like pop music pretending to be death metal. Real death metal, like the stuff I listen to, is way better than anything Cannibal Corpse has ever done.” Safe from the evil tides of mainstream success!
And I assume you’ve heard of Genesis, right? “Land of Confusion,” “Abacab,” “Turn It On Again,” and all those other radio hits they had are still popular today. Fortunately, I only listen to early Genesis, so it’s okay. Ever heard of an album called “Selling England By the Pound”*? I bet you haven’t (or at least I hope not)!
*To be fair, this really is a fantastic album.
3. Make Shit Up
I’m going to try a little exercise here. First, find a well-known band– I’ll do this by going to the facebook “iLike” application and seeing what songs are the most popular right now…
Okay, so it looks like the top spot is currently occupied by someone called The Jonas Brothers. Now, logic would dictate that since I’ve never heard this band’s music, I can’t possibly comment on them. Fortunately, I’m an experienced snob, and therefore minor details like this don’t get in the way anymore.
Let’s see, I’m guessing The Jonas Brothers structure their songs in terms of verses and choruses, right? They do? Okay, I can work with that, here goes:
“Verses and choruses are the staple of lazy songwriting. Working within this framework demonstrates a complete lack of creativity, and an attempt to get away with writing a three minute song by writing one minute worth of ideas and repeating it three times. A good band would never consistently fall back on cliches like that.”
How was that?
Now– and here’s where the real beauty of elitism comes in– there will be occasions when a criticism that a snob pulled out of his ass will also apply to something that the snob likes. But guess what? It doesn’t matter! Any techniques that one applies to attacks can just as easily be applied to defense. Observe as I defend one of my favorite bands from the argument I just made up… by making more shit up!
“Well, yeah, Falconer does verses and choruses too. But that’s okay because they still do interesting things with it. For example, on “Mindtraveler” their singer sings the chorus in a different octave the third time around.”
4. De Gustibus Est Disputandum
“Whatever. Everyone has their own taste in music, and people can listen to whatever they like.”
Well, of course you would think that. But any good music snob knows that this is nothing but a load of hoopla, balderdash, pish, tosh, twaddle, and poppycock. Especially poppycock. There is good music and bad music, and while there may or may not be some wiggle room, the quality can be objectively measured using a set of rules– even if the snob has to make them up (see rule 3). Chances are, your music is undeniably and firmly in the “bad” category, for reasons that can be logically explained and laid out.
However, remember that just because you may or may not have made up the rules, this doesn’t mean they’re opinions! A snob doesn’t pick the rules to match the bands he likes, he likes the bands he does because they fit the rules. Suddenly (or maybe not so suddenly), the snob doesn’t merely listen to different music than you, or bands you’ve never heard of. The snob listens to music that is just plain better than yours, and he would be more than happy to explain why.