It’s one thing to know about cool, unheard of music; it’s another to know about cool, unheard of music and be a bitch about it.
“Do you know who Dirty J Sweatshirt King is?” he asks. His eyebrows are raised and the corner of his mouth is twitching in an almost-smirk. He already knows your answer.
“No,” you respond flatly.
The grin he was holding in erupts across his face and he chuckles at your ignorance. How did you not know that Dirty J Sweatshirt King is a Chicago-native hip-hop artist with “really sick beats” and three cats? He chuckles more, and may even pat you on the head. Silly you.
Such is an example of what is known as music snobbery, a phenomenon present in today’s society where being “cool” means knowing about things that aren’t on the Top 40 list or making headlines. Now, just because people know about some obscure musical artists doesn’t automatically label them as music snobs; it’s a title they have to earn.
There are many different kinds of music snobs. One kind of music snob is someone who will make you feel bad for not knowing some band that is, quote, “the shit.” (See: introduction to this article). This music snob derives pleasure in this little pocket of knowledge that he or she possesses and that you lack, and will only share it with you for the purpose of pointing out that you had previously lacked it. Bastard.
Some of the most annoying music snobs are the ones who claim that they “hate the radio.” These people are averse to popular songs and artists, only because they are popular. Even if they used to like them, the sole fact that too many people listen to some artist or some song is too much for music snobs to bear, so they must move on in search of something more obscure. When questioned about their dislike for popular music, their responses are vague:
“Why don’t you like Justin Bieber?”
“I don’t know. He sucks.”
“Okay, but why?”
“I don’t know. He sounds like a girl.”
I bet music snobs were all over the Biebs during his 11-year-old YouTube days. Now that he’s in the limelight, people are turning their backs on the Canadian sensation — it’s just not cool to like Justin Bieber.
Another kind of music snob is someone who will chastise you for the music that you like. “What is this? What are we listening to?” This music snob will scrunch his or her nose as if the room were filled with sweaty socks and dirty dining hall plates crusted with two-week old mashed potatoes, when it was really just a song you used to kind of like playing from your Spotify account. Sometimes, this music snob will scroll through your iTunes library and scoff. Let me state for the record that I’m sorry I still have the High School Musical soundtrack on there, but that doesn’t mean that it’s representative of my music taste (Except for “Breaking Free.” That’s my jam.) Not all of us take the time to cleanse our music libraries of the ghost of sixth grade past, and there’s no need for anyone to be mean about it.
So, music snobs, if there’s a cool artist or song you know about, a simple “Hey! I think you might like this!” would suffice. Or, take the social media route and create a musically delicious Spotify playlist for others to check out what you’re listening to. If you really want to shake the music snob habit, I would suggest cruising around Campus Drive with all your windows down and Miley Cyrus blasting at full volume, on loop. Sing along until you know all the words. Once you know all the words, sing even louder. The next time you feel the urge to be musically condescending, remember the miraculous time when the sun warmed your cheeks, when the wind tousled your hair (sorry if you’re bald), when you ran things, things didn’t run you, and the urge will pass. And to the people who still like to talk about how they had heard of Macklemore before he was famous: no one fucking cares.