“A Non-Detailed, Probably Way-Late, Autopsy of the ‘Music Snob’ Zeitgeist”

There’s a lot of ways you can slice this thing, as you might have guessed. That is, I complain kind of a lot about the wane in quality of music after 2010, the year the world apparently saw fit to kill off indie rock like some hairy ogre scratching itself. But when you factor in how snobby most people were in the “golden era” of music, when mainstream labels housed something like 10 or so different styles of rock music [1], it almost makes you wonder if such a “golden era” is even a good thing, like if people even deserve good music.

For one thing, people would always make this bizarre habit of hating Collective Soul. This is, then, juxtaposed interestingly with the article “Collective Soul: Attention Must Be Paid” by Tim Sommer, an NYU professor, who’d just, circa 2017, discovered this great band and, basically, wet himself, in a proverbial sense. And it’s interesting being a dude who used to rock out to Collective Soul (1995) back in the late-’90s and seeing these “higher minds” kind of expose their amateurish intellectual thinness (this is a guy who was on the staff of MTV in the mid-’80s, I believe as a writer). Sommer also took the opportunity to call Pearl Jam an “overeducated fart,” which, aside from being a pretty da**ed puerile term, is, uh, questionable, seeing as, as far as I know, none of the members even went to college (this them making them less extensively educated than Mudhoney, to put things in perspective), and Sommer himself is wading in the opulent lairs of NYU, while making these comments. Imagine how bad he’ll wet himself when he internalizes the guileless, explosive genuineness and plangent guitar sound of “In Hiding.”

And then there’s Ryan Schreiber, the founder of Pitchfork. This is, in particular, a really special, even hilarious, case, an instance of a dude actually writing “Fu** you, Scott,” to Scott Weiland, in a review of Stone Temple Pilots’ Tiny Music… Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop, and lacing into Jimmy Eat World for Bleed American as if they were some pestilence fumigating the world of all that was of any merit. The criticism of Tiny Music was so psychotically laced with jealousy and sophomoric spite that Wikipedia actually compiled two separate “Critical Reception” sections for the album — one of contemporary commentary and one composed of retrospective musings on the band’s third LP, which, you guessed it, pretty much oversaw the scribes worshipping them for classic songs like “Lady Picture Show” and “Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart.” I can just see Schreiber, today, trying to stay sane through TV shows full of incestuous humor and self-adoration and The Lumineers, a band far blander than Fleetwood Mac and never met a lyrical topic that wasn’t doing the nasty. He probably has a bottle of Jim Beam velcroed to his hand. 

The last reference point I’d like to bring up, in this hopelessly cursory and wayward “autopsy” of the music snob, is the movie Ghost World (2001), which is actually a really solid film, based on the Daniel Cloews graphic novel of the same name. Steve Buscemi plays a kind of nerdy chap in whom a couple of attractive young high school girls take interest. Buscemi’s character is sort of cast as this nerdy ideal who attends these dweeby parties full of 40-something men arguing about the aural advantage of vinyl over CD and at one point opines that “I do hate sports,” with this missive obviously hazarded as a sort of sovereign ode to the “nerd,” if you will. And nothing really outplays within Ghost World to debilitate this idealization, a fact irrespective of some bad luck incurred by Buscemi’s character in the film. But, I think, just the natural recourse of everyday life since 2001, the universal law aspect acting on human behavior and our psyches, has illuminated the gross foulness of just casting off sports as if they’re some intrinsic evil, or lowbrow, denigrated function of society. Jerry Seinfeld was recently featured in a Facebook post stating that in his retirement he wanted to “go to a baseball game every day,” in the process poking fun at excessively ambitious people with the aspiration to “kite surf down the Amazon,” and such, And I don’t think anyone would deny the subtle, nuanced mind of Jerry Seinfeld — humor doesn’t get much dryer and less full of fanfare. And then there’s Mega Ran, whose last year’s album Live ’95 enlists him as, pretty much, a fat dude who’s obsessed with basketball, posing with a ball on the cover and spitting lines like, in “Comeback Player of the Year”: “I’m the equivalent of being undrafted / And going overseas / Averaging 30 [2] / But never making it to the league”. And if you’re like me, you’re a white dude who, at least in America, typically totes the overwhelming inclination to cede to black dudes when it comes to making cultural stamps of approval. So to all my music snobs out there I’d like to offer some choice words from Joe Biden, a man who stands for nothing if not “abidin’”: “Will you shut up, man?”


[1] Take 1997, say, when swing and ska-punk were making a resurgence and simultaneously you still had grunge bands like Bush, you had the pop-punk of Third Eye Blind, the folk-rock of Steve Earle and Lucinda Williams, PJ Harvey’s glam-rock thing… I mean I haven’t counted them exactly but there was quite a wide plethora of rock music being released, even in the mainstream alone. 


[2] This means 30 points per game, presumably. 


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