The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 54.0°F | Partly Cloudy

Confessions of a Music Snob

The Dirty Little Secret

By Andrew Lee

No reasonable guy should like Avril Lavigne’s music, but I made a stupid remark a few months ago whose long-lasting effects still irritate me every so often. I was innocently partaking in some music-related discussion and I mindlessly blurted, “You know what song I like?... ‘Skater Boy’ by Avril Lavigne.”

The guys around me at the time wouldn’t let me get away with such an asinine comment. My weak attempts at damage control (“I’m just kidding!” “It was a joke!”) only made it seem like I was trying to cover up an embarrassing secret that I’d blurted out in a lapse in judgment. So now I have an “obsession with Avril” and the respect I once had among my peers as a disagreeable grouch has plummeted to nearly the level of a ratty Yankees fan.

It would be great if I could defend myself, but I honestly don’t entirely hate “Skater Boy.” I know that the song is about a regretful ballerina who turned down a skateboarder who she later notices “rockin’ up MTV.” I am also completely aware that the song’s title actually reads “Sk8ter Boi.”

Despite how perversely commercial and brain-dead the song is, you have to admit that it’s fun. I also have no trouble with watching fair Avril herself as she enthusiastically cavorts around in the music video. C’mon, the guitar chords are catchy, and the chorus is addictive: “He was a skater boy!/She said ‘See you later, boy!’” ... okay, I’m done now.

Naturally, I’d be ashamed to have this song in my library for all to gawk at over iTunes sharing. My library is something I am extremely proud of, not just for how stunningly elegant it is (every song has artist, album titles, rating, and album covers), but also for its high standard of content. Among all The Smashing Pumpkins, Blur, and Radiohead, you won’t find a single song of mine that I don’t like, and if you do, it will be exiled to the dark underside of my hard drive soon enough. My opinion of a specific song or album can be pieced together by noting the corresponding song ratings and play counts - no potentially hazardous social interaction with me is required.

I try to paint as accurate a portrait of my personality as possible through my music library. iTunes sharing lets me preserve whatever image my library presents while still letting me indulge in guilty pleasures like T.a.t.u., Christina Aguilera, Avril Lavigne, and maybe even some N’Sync.

Girls have this type of embarrassing stuff and I can peep in on it without leaving any evidence. But I’m not a complete weirdo, really. The notion that I dance to this kind of music in my room while passionately lip-syncing is completely laughable.

You might wonder why I don’t just come out and admit that I love teeny-bopper pop and stuff my collection with it accordingly. For one thing: hell no. Though I can get easily sucked in by the unforgettable hooks, I could never forget how artistically vacant and irritatingly one-dimensional the music is.

Just because there is no way to completely resist a sugary pop song’s mind-control doesn’t mean I should embrace it. I believe that this music is meant to be listened to with your brain decidedly in the ‘off’ position. It’s good enough to sing along to with your buddies while having a fun, shallow time, but please don’t actually purchase the crappy records.

I don’t feel like I’ve committed any sort of hypocrisy by enjoying “Sk8ter Boi.” To avoid ridicule, I probably could have worded myself better from the beginning by instead saying “You know, ‘Sk8ter Boi’ doesn’t entirely make me want to vomit” or “Blasting ‘Sk8ter Boi’ into my fortified compound would not be an effective means to force me to release the hostages.”

Still, I think that my dignity is intact at the end of the day. Who cares that I find Avril Lavigne somewhat pleasing or that I once bought a Britney Spears album? No, I’m just kidding about the Britney thing, really. Hey... it was in eighth grade... I need to stop talking now.