Monday, April 7, 2008

We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off to Enjoy Bad Music

I admit it; I have the worst taste in music. This is no great secret among my friends and family. My girlfriend listens to the smooth jazz radio from time to time and still has better taste in music than I do. (By the way, why does every smooth jazz radio station in the US have a late night show called “The Quiet Storm?” How about something original; “The Soft Explosion” maybe?)

In my formative pre-school years, I listened to three albums: Everybody Loves a Nut by Johnny Cash, Steve Martin Live, and My Home’s in Alabama, by Alabama. My mom listened to Q101, Chicago’s rock station. I couldn’t stand it. Pop music generally sucked in the mid-to-late eighties. Now I like a lot of that music, which means that early grade school was the zenith of my music-listening sophistication.

By junior high I was obsessed with Weird Al Yankovic. From there, my musical taste never really matured. At the very least, I became musically stunted. I would go through musical phases five years later than most people. You’re supposed to obsessively listen to Led Zeppelin when you’re in high school. I waited until college. College kids discover Pink Floyd. I was in graduate school. I’m still waiting to hit my Beatles phase. Maybe I’ll pick up the White Album this weekend and see what all the hubbub is about.

Now I listen to a mish-mash of music, buying whatever catches my fancy. I consider myself a jack of all trades, uncommitted to any one style. As a result my taste tends to run middle-of-the-road which I realize is not the best place to find innovative music. With the exception of Tom Petty, I don’t know any particular artist’s repertoire extensively. But at the very least, I’m not pretentious. I know what I like when I hear it. That’s good news for bands like Hootie and the Blowfish. has a list of the worst 50 songs of all time. Surprisingly, I would only say that I like five or six records on the list. The worst song of all time is “We Built This City,” by Starship, which is a song I would spontaneously belt out at least once a night during a two-week period of binge drinking in May of ’03.

I have three of these worst songs on my Ipod: number 42, “The Sounds of Silence,” by Simon and Garfunkel; number 29, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” by Deep Blue Something; and number 16, “What’s Up?” by Four Non Blondes, which I didn’t even realize was a bad song until just now.

My poor musical taste may be attributed to the fact that I truly enjoy songs that are notoriously bad, songs that most people listen too ironically. My favorite bad song of all time is “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off” by Jermaine Stewart. You have to love any song that opens with the lyric, “You just took for granted that I wanted to skinny dip.” Jermaine Stewart’s good-time alternative? Dancing and drinking cherry wine. Is he dating a homeless person?

When it comes to musical taste, I’m more of a victim than anything else. The music I listen to chooses me-- a song from a great movie, something I overhear at a bar, music that makes me reminisce about a particular time in my life. And that’s what music is all about, right? How can I help it if “I Want a New Duck” makes me think of my first girlfriend?


Anonymous said...

I don't know how you managed to write a whole article about music and not even mention Air Supply. Who's the victim here, you or the people who inevitable hear the crap spewing from your Daewoo?

Anonymous said...

I went to Blender to look up the list and now I'm disturbed by the fact that I actually have 13 of those songs on my Ipod. The kicker - most of them are also played frequently.

There's no justice that LFO and Creed didn't even chart on this thing.

Kristy said...

I can't believe you forgot about Air Supply! That was your band of choice to belt out during the '03 binge drinking. You also forgot that it started in January and lasted through early May when you left the Meyran House...

Every time I am subjected to the torture of listening to Air Supply, I manage a distorted smile thinking of you standing by the 6 pack coolers at Gene's, belting out the lyrics to "All Out of Love".

Anonymous said...

There are some serious gaps in your story regarding your taste in music. No mention of the years listening to Ice Cube and Snoop Dog and doing the "Weapon"?

Anonymous said...

This entire article was written around you name dropping, for the 1 millionith time, Tom Petty, Weird Al Yankovic, Hootie & the blowfish, and Johnny Cash.

I used to like Tom Petty and Johnny Cash before I met you.

Thanks a lot.

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