My Musical Taste Is Brokened.

You know how there’s those bands out there that people tell you are SO GOOD and EVERYONE YOU KNOW LOVES THEM and yet you hear them and tilt your head to the side like a confused dog going “I dun get it?” because the music just doesn’t do it for you? I do that a lot. Not, like, all the time, but enough that I’m starting to think there’s something wrong with me. This isn’t one-hit-wonder bands I do it with, either – it’s establish bands with fandoms that would (on a bad day) attack me like rabid beavers screaming UNCLEAN because I don’t adore their musical demi-gods. These are bands that are in the Rock Hall of Fame. These are artists that some have called “brilliant” and “revolutionary” and I sit there like a dunderhead going “BUT WHY. IT’S MEH.” It makes me feel musically low-brow, like you gave me filet mignon and I snubbed it for a Happy Meal. Why is my musical palette broken? WHYYYYY? The sad part is I want to like these artists (probably to fit in and not feel like the aforementioned Happy Meal Girl) but I can’t. There’s some kind of cramp in my brain preventing me from drinking your Kool Aid and hopping on the fan train.

I need help, People.

What I’m hoping for with this post is for people to either confess that they’re like me, that they don’t get why some of these bands are lauded as HOLIER THAN HOLY -OR- for you real fans to explain to me what I’m missing about this music. Maybe it’s something I haven’t considered before, like an appreciation of a style that could be fostered with care, nurturing, and a WTF slap. Or maybe people are more polarized on these artists than I realize and I’m not as weird as I think I am. Whatever the case, HELP ME LIKE STUFF YOU LIKE, GUYS. I hate feeling like the lonely kid in the corner playing with her Go-Bots while all the cool kids are playing with their Transformers on the other side of the room.

So without further ado, here’s my list of BUT I DON’T GET WHY YOU LOVE THEM SO MUCH. Educate me, Fools.

1. The Who

I . . . don’t care about Pinball Wizard. That deaf dumb blind kid might play a mean pinball, but other than that, what’s so fucking fantastic about him? It’s pinball. This isn’t brain surgery. Who Are You – WHO, WHO, WHO CARES. The introduction to “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is pretty fuck-awesome, but it goes down the hill from there. My Generation? Wasn’t as soulful as the Stones, nor was it as melodic as The Beatles, so it felt like a garage band musical rebellion. Yawn. The only song I can even really remember liking was Behind Blue Eyes, but horrible admission time? I liked Sheryl Crow’s cover better, and I don’t even LIKE Sheryl Crow that much.

So what am I missing here? The rock opera thing? Is that it?

2. Rush

Here’s my issue with Rush: their songs can be really, REALLY long with these sweeping musical interuldes that I think are supposed to be symphonic appreciation. Unfortunately, because I’m broken or have no taste or something, it can come across as self-stroking pretentious bullshit. They sing about the trees and loving the earth and stuff, which is great in message, but it’s heavy handed and makes me feel like I’m choking on what they’re trying to shovel down my throat. I understand that music can change the world, but every song doesn’t need a message. This isn’t Sesame Street and I’m not looking to be taught something today. Also, listening to Tom Sawyer (one of their most recognizable songs) there’s something about the lead singer’s voice that tweaks me. It’s a little high-pitched and reedy – maybe that’s the turn off.

3. Nirvana

Yes, they’re grandfathers of grunge, and as such they gave a lot of my friends growing up a reason to dim the lights and think about their angst. I can appreciate that, but I feel like Nirvana’s . . . sorta overrated. Okay, hugely overrated. I listen to the music and go “this is grunge in its fetal stages”. And then other contemporaries come on – Pearl Jam for one – and I think “but this is just put together better.” It’s still got that lovely angst factor going but there’s melody there and, you know, the lead singer can sing. Kurt Cobain just sort of gargled with salt water and stood in front of a microphone. And I understand that people LOVE to champion lost causes, and Kurt’s story was absolutely tragic in some ways, so it might be that whole doomed artist bit, but I just . . . what’s so good about them? Heart Shaped Box is as close to a ‘good song” as I can recall. Maybe the radio airplay tunes were the shitty ones and there are hidden gems I don’t know about? Please? Maybe?

4. Led Zeppelin

This is probably the one that confuses me the most. Here are these rock gods who sing about NERDY stuff, like Lord of the Rings, and as we all know, I’m all about the nerd. I’m a card carrying member of the Nerd Fandom Society for Christ’s sake. And yet, I could give a shit less about Led Zeppelin. The thing that really frustrates me here is they have some REALLY powerful hooks – the primal scream in Immigrant Song is pretty fuckin’ epic, for example. Except, once again, a cover comes along and blows the original out of the water for me. Thanks, Karen O and Trent Reznor. I know there’s the argument of “if they didn’t write the song to begin with, you couldn’t enjoy the cover” and there IS some validity to it, but I want to get down with my hipster douchebag self and say “BUT THE ORIGINAL IS SO MUCH BETTER” and once again I can’t because I simply don’t get it.

HERP DERP.

5. Pink Floyd

The interesting thing with Floyd is, more than any other previously mentioned band on my list, I kinda do like them. Sometimes. In small doses. I just don’t like them enough. And I feel like I should – it’s got all the right ingredients. I like the lead singer’s voice, I actually like a handful of songs, and they experimented with sound in a way that I find relatively pleasing (Comfortably Numb is a good example). However. I think Pink Floyd fanbois are part of the reason I don’t love them. When I was in college, a bunch of people swore up and down Pink Floyd was the best thing ever and no one could touch their musical brilliance, which I found pretty off-putting. I enjoy SOME of their stuff (not all – Money can take a dump in its Money hat) but I don’t listen and go MAN, THIS MOVED ME SO MUCH I CRAPPED MY PANTS. And people who follow Floyd are the pants-crapping type when they listen to Dark Side of the Moon.

There’s the list, people. Have at it. Educate me, or tell me your own “I should like them, but . . . ” artists because right now, I feel like I need a dunce cap and a dark corner.

18 thoughts on “My Musical Taste Is Brokened.

  1. Here’s my thought process as I was reading this list.

    1. “Ok. I get it. I’m not a huge Who fan, but there are some songs of theirs I enjoy. But I can understand not liking them, particularly the songs listed. I agree with Hillary.”

    2. “Amen. I put them at #4 most overrated band in Rock & Roll history.”

    3. “Hallelujah! Someone who agrees with me that Nirvana is a bunch of whiny crybabies! Teenage angst was done so much better in the 60’s. And if your band’s best guitarist and singer is also your drummer, you’ve got issues. #1 most overrated band in Rock & Roll history!”

    4. “What?! WHAT?! Hillary and I can no longer be secret internet lovers.”

    5. “I will no commence sending Hillary hate mail. DARK SIDE OF THE MOTHERFUCKIN’ MOON! GAH!”

    So yeah. You were doing so well, and then it all fell apart. I’m sorry, Hill. I’m afraid our torrid love affair has met its demise.

  2. See, I wanna like Floyd. I really, really do. That’s the one that kills me most of all of them because I dig certain songs. It’s just . . . I dunno. I can’t get into them, partially because of the overplayed factor of DSOTM and I don’t have a ton of exposure to their less-played stuff? So I wouldn’t know anything beyond what’s been played to hell and back again? Led Zeppelin is another one I -should- like, but I just kinda . . . that might be Robert Plant’s voice. Dunno. I don’t get it.

    • Many will disagree wtih me because “OMG IT’S NOT THE ORIGINAL MEMBERS!”, but give their album “The Division Bell” a whirl. It was their last studio album and contains a lot of their previous harmonies, but without a lot of the acid and cocaine that went into their previous work. I think you might enjoy it.

      As for Zeppelin, I’m sorry. I’m afraid you’re beyond any help I can provide.

  3. I’d love to try and sway you, but I completely agree on all counts. I think a large part of it is that each of these groups were groundbreaking for their era, but at this point they have been surpassed by other groups that were inspired BY them. My dad is a huge fan of The Who and Led Zepplin (and he listened to Pink Floyd but not as much as the other two) but they never really resonated with me. Genesis on the other hand (he’s a longtime fan)? I’d listen to some of their stuff of my own volition.

    Rush I don’t understand and probably never will. I think you have to be high. My HS Physics teacher loved them and I think he was a giant stoner in his formative years.

    Nirvana should have been my jams but again, never really resonated. Neither did Pearl Jam though I agree Pearl Jam is more polished. We were all about Bush, Poe, Garbage, Alice in Chains and some of the other Grunge/Alternative groups. I still listen to them. I never turn on Nirvana voluntarily.

  4. Grunge had nothing to do with polish. It was another attempt to break from the overly produced sounds of the 80s, a response to Glamrock and Hiphop.

    Teenage Angst in the 60s? I need a good example of this.

    I think you cannot overrate how Zeppelin and Nirvana influenced and changed the sounds of their peers. That being said, one can also draw a line from Zeppelin to the Glam rock bands of the 80s and Nirvana to the really shitty bands of 90s.

    I don’t dig rush, but I have a few singles to remind me of high school. I don’t play them often, but I dont’ have a visceral reaction like I do with other bands on the list. I understand the relevance of the Who but I find Pink Floyd to be the #3 overrated band in history. Given that the#1 spot is a tie between Buffet and The Grateful Dead..

    As an aside, technically, I’m supposed to love Bon Iver. I’d rather listen to Arrens singing than listen to Bon Iver. UGH.

    • “Teenage Angst in the 60s? I need a good example of this.”

      Using Hill’s list to start, how about The Who’s “My Generation”? Or just about any song by Crosby, Stills & Nash (with or without Young)? Basically, any protest song written by just about anybody in that age had more angst and was done far better than anything Nirvana did.

      Additionally, I could do a version of “Tequila Sunrise” that would bring you to tears, sir. TO TEARS!

  5. Musical tastes are the same as food tastes. They resonate or don’t. I live for music, but not a certain band at all. My tastes are soooooooo eclectic so that I can find something for any mood.
    That said:
    1. The Who – pinball wizard is just fun. Lost mostly on a generation that plays videogames at home and not at arcades (are there any still around?). As a proud fan of the Who I can say they introduced me to punk, but I can’t stand all of their music.
    2. Rush – again a forerunner on the concept album, the who with tommy and rush with 2112. From the standpoint of an old man, that was our entertainment in a world with no cable tv. Geddy Lee’s warbling is a source of amusement, and their music mostly does sound the same. Like Scotch, an acquired taste. Also like Scotch, who wants to take the time. Best song to me is Time Stand Still, mostly because Aimee Mann also on it.
    3. Nirvana – from a punker standpoint I’m not a fan. The Ramones had better songs, none over 5 minutes long and resonated with feel of the fifties. Nirvana is meh to me.
    4. Led Zeppelin – STOP PLAYING STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN!!!!! Other songs are on their albums and the rest of us are not on drugs (anymore for some of us)! I give them credit for being hard hitting in their day, but I was too young to do drugs when they came out so I never got them either.
    5. Pink Floyd – DSOTM is not the epitome of floyd. I am a fan of The Wall, but not suicidal enough to watch the movie over and over etc. My favorite is Wish You Were Here. Prefer David Gilmour to Roger Waters. Again, mostly drug related (just take a closer look at the fanboys).

    These are my opinions, but just letting you know that though I grew up with them (well except Nirvana) not everything they did was great. Just enjoy the music you like, because that is THE MUSIC THAT YOU LIKE. And, btw, people that push their music, movie, food, etc. on anybody are the reason many people don’t get into those items.

    • Well, one thing I was afraid of (because I went with a lot of ‘older’ bands) would be that my opinion was dismissive because I didn’t grow up in that era. The problem is, I have a -great- classic rock and blues background thanks to my mother. Allman Brothers, Stones, early Aerosmith (shut up, Marty), Hendrix, Boston, Talking Heads, Queen, Doors, Bonnie Raitt, Janice, Crosby, Stills & Nash, etc, etc. I even went fan-girl on some other groups and artists Mom didn’t care for (I like Bob Dylan and Tom Waits, for example. She doesn’t like them.) What “bothers” me about this list is it’s artists /I’d like to appreciate/ and can’t. So I’m glad to see a list here of reasons why someone DOES really like them so maybe I can listen again and try and get into some of the nuances. 😀

      • Once, as a young lad, I was going to see the Aerosmith/Metallica show. But I ran out of dough and I couldn’t afford the tickets.

  6. Led Zeppelin is great because they were pioneers and they were original. It wasn’t just the same heavy handed power chords Black Sabbath was pumping out, and people could immerse themselves in their songs. Plus there were a lot of drugs going about in the ’70s, so Led Zeppelin probably didn’t just sound like Mordor, it probably turned people’s living rooms into Mordor. Plus, they were the first real rock stars. Elvis had alot of groupies, but he never fucked any of them with a fish.

  7. 1. The Who – “Pinball Wizard” probably isn’t the best track to judge the band by. In fact the whole of Tommy really should be set aside as being an experiment that worked pretty well. The songs taken as singles or radio tracks from the album (“Pinball Wizard”, “I’m Free” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It”) are all good tracks, but they’re only a part of the whole and the effect is mostly lost when they’re taken out of context. Other Who material (“Eminence Front”, “Magic Bus”, “The Seeker”, “Squeeze Box”) are closer to the truer sound of the band.

    2. Rush – Take a listen to the first, self-titled, album. Completely different. Basically short pop songs that would have got the band lost in a sea of sameness. The replacement of original drummer John Rutsey with Neil Peart is the key to what Rush would become. His lyrics changed the direction of band from pop-rock mid-listers to flag-bearers of the Progressive Rock movement. The early Peart stuff is esoteric and takes a lot to get in to. the 2112 suite is probably the pinnacle of this period. While “Tom Sawyer” is probably the best known Rush track, “Red Barchetta”, from the same album, is actually a better song both in terms of story and melody. (Though sneaking the phrase “catch the spit” in to a lyric is pretty freakin’ genius.) Also, the 2007 album Snakes And Arrows is good all on its own.

    3. Nirvana – I think I was too old for Nirvana. I get what they were about, what the grunge movement was about, but the music and lyrics didn’t do much for me, either. I’d already rebelled. This wasn’t all that new.

    4. Led Zeppelin – “Stairway To Heaven” is the most played song in Rock radio history. And it’s a great song. It isn’t, however, the end-all and be-all of what made Led Zeppelin the force they were. They came out of the Yardbirds and had a strong Blues background. The first three albums are all about the Blues. It’s Led Zeppelin IV where things really begin to change. By the time we get to Presence and it’s epics “Achilles Last Stand” and “For Your Life” the Blues has all but gone out of the band. They’ve moved toward Prog Rock while retaining the power and bombast that drove them to stardom in the first place.

    5. Pink Floyd – Ah, Pink. Poor misunderstood Pink. From it’s earliest days Pink Floyd has been misunderstood. One doesn’t need to use drugs to understand the music or the lyrics or appreciate the artistry. I’ve grown partial to the earlier experimental work on Atom Heart Mother, Ummagumma and Saucerful Of Secrets. Though I’ll admit I can’t stand “Echoes”, SONAR pings or no.

    The point of all this? You’re not crazy. There’s nothing wrong with you. You have eclectic tastes. Most people either do or grow in to them as they discover different kinds of music. I grew up on Country and Bluegrass music before my father introduced me to In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. (I learned that whole drum solo forwards and backwards.) I love the Kinks and Dire Straits and Bob Dylan and Ray Stevens and Hank Williams Sr. and Patsy Cline and Maria McKee.

    You’re not broken. You’re you. Revel in being you and in liking and loving the things you do. If we all liked the same stuff we’d live in a bland, boring world.

  8. 1 + 2 – The Who and Rush took a long time to grow on me. I still can’t stand the sound of Geddy Lee’s voice despite my Canadian citizenship. No one can understand how I dislike Rush.

    3 – I hated Nirvana til I heard lithium. Now I really like their unplugged set, I think Kurt’s backstory plays into this. His lyrics left is messages that he was going soon, but I still don’t trust Courtney Love.

    4 – Not sure how to dislike Pink Floyd. You should get that looked at!

    5 – Led Zeppelin is more an album band. I personally recommend listening to III and Physical Graffiti all the way through before passing judgement.

  9. OK, Mom weighs in.

    The Who: There’s some good stuff there. No, they’re not the Stones, (more like the “Yuppie Stones”) but Roger Daltry’s scream and the guitar riffs in “Won’t Get Fooled Again” are the bomb, for one.

    Zeppelin? Rush? Nirvana? I took a different path… I went bluesy with Hendrix and Raitt, headed South with Lynyrd Skynyrd, SRV and the Allman Brothers–(among others) all talent/ no pretense. All best heard live, not studio.

    Pink Floyd: Don’t dislike. Not the worst.

    I was never a fan of Boston, (must be your other mother) and only CSN when Neil Young was busy elsewhere- because he just sucks.

    Tom Waits is fine, and Dylan was/is a brilliant composer.

    And Aerosmith? Joe Perry rocks.

    xo, Mom

    • Boston was after I moved out, yeah. I actually had Neil Young on this list as a person I didn’t like, but then I remembered a bunch of people didn’t like him, too, so I didn’t think he was appropriate to add. Dylan is starting to REALLY grow on me. This song? Makes me so sad and happy at the same time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beaAKKYb-1A

  10. oh HeeRee.

    I can understand you to an extent, though I freely admit that my love of some of these bands comes down to “My mom loved them and would have brained me with something heavy if I ever said that I disliked them.” The second concert that I ever went to was Pink Floyd (The Division Bell. Yes I was small, yes I got a contact high). But I digress.

    1. The Who – Ok, I can get this one. I was not a huge fan of theirs until I hit my mid-twenties. I never actively disliked them, but I had on occasion changed the station if some of their songs came on or just actively skipped over them on playlists. I’m not sure what caused it, but one day they just seemed to click.

    2. Rush – Again I won’t hate on you for this one. I am solidly in Camp Meh. I can take them or leave them, but I’ve never done enough drugs to think they were awesome.

    3. Nirvana – SIGH. YOU ARE MAKING ME SIGH. Nirvana has been on my top 10 list since I was about 9 years old. Did I get all the subtext in their lyrics at 9? No. At that point all I knew was that my brother worshiped them and well, I worshiped him. The love for them hasn’t faded (as evidenced by my screen names often being Tart Shaped Box >.> ) but I realize that even as much as I love their lyrics and Kurt’s voice it isn’t for everyone. Their MTV Unplugged cd is just brilliant though. (Also, MR ARRENS – No Nirvana means no Fighters of Foo. Just Sayin’)

    4. Led Zeppelin – I understand not thinking they are amazing. I love them but even I want to shove pointy things in my ears when Stairway comes on. Immigrant Song and Fool In the Rain are two of my favorites of theirs. While I think that not liking them is boggling, I can understand not thinking they were THE BEST BAND EVERZ!!11!!!1!

    5. Pink Floyd – As much as I love them, I can get that most people probably need to be stoned to think they are awesome. Division Bell is my favorite cd of theirs, but I do like DSOTM and the Wall. But I can definitely see being a little meh about them. They tended to be pretty artsy fartsy and drug addled in their earlier stuff and if you are like me and not a partaker of the drugs it can be a bit trying.

  11. 1. The Who

    The who is classic, but high brow rock. The lyrics of most of their songs are entangled in this weird story telling that was just the time. Part of what the who is and represents is lost on the current generation, and it’s not because the music is something that will bring you to your knees crying with emotion (though for some it does) but it’s the symbolism of what and who they were when they came out. They were chaos unleashed on stage with Daltrey at the lead. They were known for diving into the audience, causing riots of emotion. Their performances often resulted in the destruction of their instruments. They were also a HUGE part of the pirate radio stations of the UK in the 60’s. I’ll spare you the dry details of it, but they were symbols of rebellion and taking power back into the lives of the youth who were tired of being under the thumb of the old regime. Even the action of a Rock Opera was an act of rebellion intended to turn the conservatives on their heads.

    2. Rush

    I’ll give you that you either love them or hate them, they are largely enjoyed for the complexity of their musical compositions. Honestly though, for the most part I find that hardcore musicians tend to really like them, or music nerds like myself.
    Also, unlike many other bands at the time, they actually knew how to play their instruments quite well, resulting in a lot less use of the “golden button” on their recordings.

    3. Nirvana

    So, here’s the deal with Nirvana. A lot of their music sucked because it was mostly composed of three power chords and fueled by cocaine and various other drugs. That said, yes they were the front men of grunge rock. But, much like my beloved Beatles, it’s not about the music they wrote or performed, it was very much like The Who and the sense of rebellion. It was the 90’s and a time where we had generation X, where kids wanted to speak out against the conservatives (yet again) and grunge was one of the ways they did it. Nirvana however helped to spawn numerous other bands to take shape, including the ever epic Foo Fighters. Look back on the whole generation x thing in which Nirvana was very much an integral part of, and then remember that the song of choice was none other than “My Generation” by The Who, which was also performed a few times live by Nirvana. This band is more about the legacy than the music.

    4. Led Zepplin

    One of the greatest musical groups of all time in my opinion based on musical composition. Jimmy Page wrote his power driven lines as if they were for an orchestra, and years later his exact scores were used for the london philharmonic orchestra to play. The problem is that most people’s go to song for them is Stairway to Heaven. Every fucking wanna be guitar player knows how to play that song. It’s a series of bar chords picked apart. It was also the first full song I learned how to play on guitar at the age of 8, so there you go. Immigrant song, like most of the other led zepplin songs, is all about the story and painting a world of imagination and honestly nerd core. Metal and rock of this time was nothing but nerd core. The immigrant song is a song about vikings rowing west from Scandinavia in search of new lands. It’s an epic adventure given verse. Now lets look at another great song of theirs, The Battle for Evermore. Another fantastic story with ideals you’d find in a D&D game. If you listen to the original, and you listen to the cover by Karn O and Trent Reznor with Atticus Ross, you get what is musically the exact same song, just made to suit the singers. The cover has the same hiss at the beginning of the track, keeps the same timing and modifies the original adding the personal touches of the artists, but even that touch is light. Play the tracks at the same time in youtube, try to line up the beginning of the vocals, it’s the same timing, same pacing, same notes and same composition with just some extra layering on top. I’m not going to tell you the original is better, because honestly from a musical standpoint to me they are the exact same song. Led Zepplin were masters of creating a world through their music that took you on a journey. It inspires artists LIKE Karen O and Trent who in past interviews have cited Led Zepplin as heavy influences to their work.

    5. Pink Floyd

    They are a very high-brow group, and like many of the others tried to create worlds for their listeners to inhabit. I would say though that unless you are a die-hard floyd fan or someone who grew up in the era, stay away from darkside of the moon and the wall. Those were very complex journeys that even the most dedicated can have a hard time following sometimes. Give Division Bell a listen. It showcases the talent of the band without assuming so much of the listener.

    The problem with most of these bands is the pedestal that they are placed on by their fanatics. Just like modern artists today. The music is good, but I dare say it’s not so much the “listen to this and meet god experience” as just appreciating the music for what it was at the time.

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