What’s the Uncoolest Music You Listen To?
I’m kind of late with this, but have y’all read this book Let’s Talk About Love: Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste? The premise seems like it’d be boring and pointless — music critic Carl Wilson goes on a journey to figure out why people like Celine Dion — but it’s actually a fascinating read. After all, like Wilson, I don’t like Celine Dion, and no one I know likes Celine Dion…but she’s sold hundreds of millions of albums, so there must be someone out there listening. Seriously, not a single one of my Facebook friends has thumbed up her fan page; how can there be zero overlap between “people I know” and “people who listen to one of the most popular recording artists of all time”?
Wilson takes the question as deep as it’ll go: How does the larger world interpret Celine’s Quebecois background? What is the cultural history of schmaltz? Why do we feel guilty about “guilty pleasures”? How do different people develop such different taste in music, books, movies, everything? What even is “taste”?
The first edition came out in 2007, but a new and expanded version was just released in March, which includes essays on the subject by people like Krist Novoselic, Nick Hornby, and James Franco (who could himself be the subject of a very similar book). (Probably the best one is by Mary Gaitskill, who takes Celine-haters to task for their lack of empathy, then realizes she throws the exact same shade at certain authors and has to redirect her Bitch, excuse me? at herself.)
Wilson doesn’t focus much on gender (though his point about Celine’s music being “metal on estrogen” is super interesting), but it’s a huge factor in deciding what music is cool to like and who’s “allowed” to listen to what. All I know is: the people I have to defend my love of Sheryl Crow to are always men. (But you still can’t make me listen to Celine Dion.)