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Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 1 month ago

RhetoricAndComposition > SectionSixtySeven > YourBlogs > FreeSpeech > FreeAnal

I often find myself correcting people on their musical taste. I’ll ask, “How can you even listen to Good Charlotte,” or claim, “Coldplay sucks.” Both comments will garner tremendous opposition from the opposing side, claiming that “It’s just your opinion,” and that I should “Shut up.”

Well my friends, there is a way to think about critiquing music, even for the common radio-listening public. It is riddled with subjectivities of course; musical tastes vary from person to person greatly. The key is to think about music the same way you think about food.


Food comes in infinite variety, lending its style and flavor from its meats, complements, and spices. A chef will usually include his or her own favorite items in the dish in the hopes that his patron will share his taste and agree with the composition of the dish. Of course, a problem arises right here when dealing with sophisticated tastes. Often, a new blend of spices will be too strong, too weak, or simply a bad match with the meat being served. This is experienced in music when a particular artist usually known as “good” experiments with new things, new realms of possibility with his music, which is immediately rejected by his fans. As an edible dish can be ruined by too much salt, so a musical piece can be ruined with too much, say, funk.


Another way good music is like good food is that it comes in many different genres, which are in turn liked by different types of people. For example, I happen to love Chinese food. I also happen to love alternative hip hop. My roommate can’t stand Chinese food, and is constantly telling me to turn my music down. For me there are varying degrees of quality for Chinese food, a fact with which my roommate agrees, but he still doesn’t like it. A quality song will excel in its genre, but will not be comparable to songs in different ones that don’t agree musically. Of course different chefs will have unique styles of cooking within their greater genre, but some will go beyond the conventional limits of their food and achieve more delicious dishes.


Bad music is more difficult to describe because just as there are acquired tastes in food, there are acquired tastes in music. Measured up against their genre, some foods seem inadequate and often disgusting, but isolated, this music can seem satisfactory. I come from Pittsburgh, so the only Philly cheese steaks I have ever had have come from Uncle Sam’s Sub Shop or similar sandwich joints. When I came to Penn State, I was informed by one of my mates that the “steaks” at Uncle Sam’s tasted like “feces” compared to the “real” ones from Geno’s. He’s probably right, but until I have acquired a more sophisticated taste for cheese steaks, I will be completely satisfied with my bad steaks. In popular music, the same thing happens, for I used to be a huge Green Day fan until I learned what great music was on the other side of the fence. I might be again, if I’m starved for music in college for whatever reason. Right now, I’m a huge fan of Maruchan Cup Noodle. Does that make it good?


Creativity and variety goes a long way in creating good food and good music. The Cup Noodle I so love is beginning to lose its flavor. Sure it sustains, but I need something different if I’m going to survive my first semester here at Penn State. If I wanted, I could go down to the nearest restaurant for some creative and different food that’s never been tried (by me) before. It would be delicious. If I bit into it and it tasted like Cup Noodle, I would never come back to that restaurant because they copy their flavor off of something else. Good Charlotte does this with punk music. They take it out of context and sell it to the pop crowd while not bringing anything new to the table.


When restaurants sell to the least common denominator among people to sell more food, it is generally not regarded as fine cuisine. Even if it is delicious, in the case of McDonald’s hamburgers, but there is no unique flavor, it becomes not as good. Pop music tends to do this. It sells songs to the maximum demographic by watering down its music. Even if the music is good and catchy, there is nothing creative underlying the tune to keep it as an established piece for critical evaluation. Just as McDonald’s food, popular music is not necessarily bad, but since it sometimes harbors a lack of creativity, it is often less desirable than less popular music.


Music, of course, cannot be objectively critiqued. However, as with food, it may be successfully reviewed through other means such as relativistic stuff. I’ll conclude later. Really, it’s getting late, and I gotta post this on my wiki. I hope you liked the paper.

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