Five Ways To Deal With a Budding Music Snob
ICP and Geto Boys at the Gathering of the Juggalos: Discuss.
Nate "Igor" Smith
If I am going to be honest, I think snobs get kind of a bad wrap. Pretension aside, fans who have a critical ear and high standards are good for the medium. And when two music snobs get together, it can make for a great back and forth. Unfortunately, all that critical listening can also give way to high-minded judgment when something low-brow enters the conversation. And judgment ruins a party real quick.
There is no place like college for a young music snob to bud. Surrounded by strangers who never knew your love for Matchbox 20 or some such, you can create an entirely new music persona. So here are five ways to deal with this asshole when you run into each other at a party!
1) First Determine the Snob Flavor Are you dealing with some self-serious EDM raver? An indie queen? A hip-hop head? They will likely be a combination of a few things, but this will help you navigate whole genres they won't have an opinion on. See if you can bait them to drop some blog names - this will help determine what they are into. And don't worry if you have never heard or read the blogs, once they start talking about their favorite writer, just hit them with something like, "I appreciate that blogs are the way we get information now, but what happened to finding music in a record store?"
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2) To Undersnob or Oversnob? If you have decided to engage with this person, you must decide early on if you are going to over or under snob them. If you don't really know much about music, just oversnob them; think of it as a dare. The key to this is to not be enthusiastic about any music at all. Don't let on what you like, that is when the criticism starts on. When they ask if you know a band, and you obviously don't, just look into the distance thoughtfully and ask irritating questions like, "Oh is that a side project of (make up a French name)?" Or, "That's vaguely familiar, what label are they on?"
If you are feeling confident and you have some thoughtful discourse to add, an undersnob can be just lovely in the face of pretense. I generally kill them with enthusiasm for something very populist and top 40 before I wax about how the current excess in hip-hop is the new theatre of alienation.
3) Talking About The Music At some point, you are going to have to actually talk about music.Thankfully, there are two ways to go about this. If you have heard of it, you can imply that since you have heard of it, it's crap. Or, if you haven't heard of it, you can discuss how useless it is to be unheard. This should keep you going in circles for hours. If you are pushed to talk about an actual song, keep these words in mind: self-indulgent, spacey, genre-bending, witchy, boring, progressive. Those words don't have anything to do with melody or instrumentation, but the snob will know just where to take the conversation next.
4) Genre Buzz Topics Indie: Just put any word in front of "-wave" (witch-wave, tumblr-wave, sandwich-wave) Hip-hop: Start asking about producers and ghostwriters, your snob will get all worked up. Justin Beiber: Don't discount the Bieb, compare him to Justin Timberlake. Country: Skip the Johnny Cash lesson, Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton have basically written all of the songs in existence. Discuss. Juggalos: Juggalos are a really compelling sub-culture and this is when the snobbery should end, and genuine "ARE THE JUGGALOS GOING TO TAKE OVER?" conversation should begin. Also, they really do curate some pretty great festivals. Burning Man: Don't.
5) Quit Talking To Snobs At Parties Just like what you like. And buy tickets to shows and albums you like. And if you are the snob, think about it from an apologist's perspective. And then everyone go get a drink and quit ruining your parties with drive-by snobbery.
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