In defence of listening to terrible music

I can’t help it if I like Coldplay and Ed Sheeran

Last week I was in a lift with my headphones on when my colleague stepped in – and I suddenly got really embarrassed.

It wasn’t the confined space that was making me blush, nor my inability to make small talk. It was that the volume was on loud, and I was listening to Nickelback.

Nowadays it’s well accepted that liking a certain kind of music will get you ostracised by those “in the know”. In the era of Boiler Room and the New Music Group, it suddenly seems like there’s no place for those of us who don’t conform to having a non-conformist taste in tunes.

But there are certain truths in modern music which go unacknowledged. Ed Sheeran is one of the most talented songwriters of our generation. There are few artists over the last twenty years who have had as many genuinely versatile songs as Coldplay. Mumford & Sons? They’re just extremely good musicians.

Liking popular music is unpopular in 2016 – and I’m not talking about club bangers. You can get away with enjoying a bit of David Guetta or Rihanna as long as you make it clear you’re being ironic –  but if I plugged my phone in at a house party and put OneRepublic on, everyone would look at me like I’d just pulled my trousers down and pissed all over the speakers.

When did it become so shameful to like bland bands? 15 years ago no-one was rinsing Chris Martin for Yellow, but the news about Coldplay headlining Glastonbury this year went down about as well as a Donald Trump speech in Mexico. Why do people act so insulted when The Killers or Muse get given headline slots? I’d rather see them live than fucking Four Tet any day.

And that’s the thing: just because you don’t like house, it doesn’t mean you should feel any less at home putting on some middle-of-the-road indie. My friends even laughed at me the other week when I said I liked Bastille. Bastille. Are they uncool? Knowing what’s OK to listen to has become a minefield, and it’s ruining music for everyone.

What will be uncool in 2017? Are people going to snigger at me next year when I say I had Jack Garratt’s album? Will they roll their eyes when they find out I paid actual money to see Jamie xx? The danger of being judged for what I listen to terrifies me – but not as much as the prospect of never getting to hear Marcus Mumford’s voice again.

It’s time to stop hating on people who love a by-the-numbers banger or two. Go ahead and download Tidal to get Kanye’s new album – I won’t judge. But until they add Maroon 5’s new stuff, I’ll stick to Absolute Radio.

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