Digging Deep Isn’t Snobbery; It’s Just Fun


    It’s ’80s April. 

    The rules are simple: Exceptions can be made for live shows and when we don’t have control over the music playing, but any time we make the conscious effort to listen to music, it has to be from the ’80s.  

    Ironically, a large portion of this Hiatus staff is participating, which means the people who are supposed to tell you about new music are only listening to post-punk classics all month. But with people caring more about holograms of dead artists than new music these days anyway, I’d say we picked a good month to go back in time. 

    You might be wondering what the appeal of such a silly challenge is, apart from the fact that it’s a challenge. It’s simple, really; having constraints to your music-listening means you eventually have to dig a lot deeper, making ’80s April a totally enriching musical experience. So far this month I’ve discovered dozens of artists I had never heard before and finally listened to artists I had only heard the names of in passing.

    I discovered how great New Zealand indie-rock was, I downloaded the entire discography of cult indie-rockers Felt, I made early house music my new cooking soundtrack (I gotta dance while I drain noodles, guys) and began belting out the Smiths more often than usual in my car. For months I felt stuck in a musical rut, with little to no desire to go digging for new music, but now I find myself constantly asking my friends about their new ’80s discoveries and scouting blogs for unknown treasures. 

    My hunt for the obscure received a slight knock in credibility, though, when the New York Times published a column by Alexandra Molotkow titled “Why the Old-School Music Snob Is the Least Cool Kid on Twitter.” 

    Molotkow’s ridiculous point was this: “There is no longer any honor in musical obscurity.” Apparently, the rise of social media has made little-known music even more irrelevant; instead, she argues, the more people like something, the more valuable it is. 

    Now, let’s forget the nonetheless important idea that “value” in terms of music is completely subjective, but get to the root of the problem: Molotkow’s point isn’t unique. I’ve noticed an upswing in once-hipsters deciding that they’re now too cool to actually care about discovering music. They look down on those still excited by the prospect of a great new band, scoffing on their high horse while ironically (though they’d argue it’s authentic) listening to more “populist” acts (whatever that even means). 

    While I, too, relish the fall of music elitism caused by the anything-goes nature of the Internet, a taste for the obscure does not equate to snobbery. There’s a difference between happening upon an excellent band that hasn’t made it big yet and actively seeking out such acts precisely because of the fact that they’re obscure. Good music is good music, and I don’t understand why there’s this sudden aversion to the music nerdery I love so dearly. Molotkow would probably mock my ’80s April jaunt, instead suggesting that I let the populist speak for itself and watch while artists like Azealia Banks rise through the ranks of YouTube. And I’ll do that. But I’ll also continue to hunt through record bins, because good music lives there too.

    Now, back to the ’80s.

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