In Defence Of Bad Taste In Music

'If Nickelback is wrong, I don't want to be right'

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I know they're there. Lurking in my ‘Recently Played’ list, threatening to expose me as a fraudster of cool the next time a friend launches my Spotify player without fair warning.

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All. Those. Nickelback. Tracks.

Hello. My name is Michelle, and I have bad taste in music. Or, at least I secretly do. Sure, on the surface my music library is a deftly­assembled, genre­hopping collection of all the 'right' music. But when a Facebook scroll tells me that I'm a bad person for missing my oldest friends’ important life events, sometimes a girl's just gotta put on ‘Photograph’ and cry a little to Chad Kroeger’s grinding vocals.

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Is that so wrong? Should I really be embarrassed about that? A quick search online tells me I should. Nickelback top no less than a bazillion Worst Bands Ever lists, all for what some call their commercial sound and formulaic lyrics. Like that’s a bad thing. But that doesn't seem to matter when it comes to who I think I'm supposed to like in public (and it’s definitely not Nickelback). If someone asks who I'm listening to right now, I'll probably sound like a music snob's guide to the galaxy.

In the grand scheme of things, music cred seems to matter. ‘Count me in, but my music taste sucks‘ is the automatic disclaimer I've encountered from many a tastemaker when arranging interviews for my music site, The Rhapsody. I guess with the beautifully curated public evidence of everyone else’s of 'just­so' taste, it can feel like what really speaks to you, what hasn't been co­signed by Internet Cool Person, should be kept under your virtual bed.

Yet choosing only to listen to what’s expected is like only ever eating the spring rolls at a buffet. If the production quality tickles my ears and reaches my soul, I'll buy it and buy into its creators (One Direction, I’m talking to you).

Take for instance my soft spot for country music. From the Dixie Chicks to Sam Hunt, their clever, heart-felt lyrics make for a sonic down-home comfort. But there's that face my British friends make when I mention the genre. (I bet you're making that face right now, reader.) Their twangy, warbly vocals just don't seem to translate for the average mainstream listener across the pond. It's far easier to find kindred spirits with which to extol the badass goddesses that are Rihanna, M.I.A, Missy Elliott, and Adele. I mean, they're way more easy to love, right?

So let’s talk. Who'd be on your ‘guilty pleasures’ playlist?

Michelle's best worst tracks:

1. Nickelback - Photograph
2. Dixie Chicks - Goodbye Earl
3. Snow - Informer
4. Vanessa Carlton - A Thousand Miles
5. Shontelle - T-shirt

 

Words by ELLE Sounds Editor Michelle Bobb-Parris