When you’re talking to someone about what kind of music you like, it can be as treacherous as bringing up politics or religion. Most people hold the music they enjoy as sacred, and many do so to the point of fanaticism and fundamentalism.
What might be surprising is how similar all music fans are, despite their favored genre. For instance, while a few of my friends and I listen to metal like Korn, Slipknot, Marilyn Manson, etc., most of my friends listen to rap, hip-hop, indie music, or (ugh) dubstep. I have found that it does not matter what music you listen to: most music fans fall into the same three archetypes. These are the Snob, the Hipster, and the Zombie.
Let’s start with the snob. Snobs are the kind of people that would say Marilyn Manson is not technically metal; he is actually “goth-synth,” or something like that. Most people won’t care, but the Snob will hound you about these definitions and subtleties — like a nerd finding out you thought it was Dr. Spock, when he is actually called Mr. Spock.
But it’s not just isolated to nerds or metal fans. You’ll see the same thing with fans of hip-hop, talking about the differences between “gangsta rap,” “old school rap,” “crunk,” “whatever Eminem is,” etc. The same goes for electronic music, and the subtle nuances of “dance,” “house,” “trance,” “euro-trance,” “dubstep,” “post dubstep”… need I go on?
We’ve all been in these unfortunate conversations where, no matter what you say, you’re always wrong. That’s because Snobs are terrible and nobody could care less that Korn is actually “nu metal,” not just plain old regular metal.
The simplest way to describe the Hipster is to say he or she hates everything mainstream. If a band gets a record deal of any kind, or any sort of radio play, they are “posers” and “sell outs.”
Now, do not confuse the musical Hipster with “hipsters” of the flannel clad, horn-rim wearing, terrible facial hair variety (although these are also terrible). Instead, this is an all-encompassing term signifying music fans who seek out more “underground” bands that are “pure,” rather than “mainstream.” This usually means listening to strings of EPs that sound like they were recorded on a fucking phonograph circa the 1800s.
Metal Hipsters might seek out obscure death metal bands from Norway, where everyone still wears pale KISS-esque make-up and studded leather. Hip-Hop Hipsters might seek out limited release LPs that make NWA look like MC Hammer. And Indie Hipsters… will just seek out terrible music.
My issue isn’t that Hipsters love underground music — there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s that they dismiss other bands based solely on their general accessibility and no other criteria.
Finally, there are the Zombies. These are people who claim to not have an opinion on music, and who “only listen to the radio.” This is pretty much the reverse Hipster. They only seek out what is popular, listening to Top 40 plus what TRL would play if it still existed. Popular music is just as okay as underground music. However, like every other music fan archetype, the Zombie takes it too far. I remember a classmate who’d buy a new CD and then brag about how he only listened to the disc’s three or four singles for hours on end.
I knew a girl who had “Single Ladies” playing in her car on a loop, on her iPod on a loop, as her ring tone (which pummeled our eardrums incessantly), and then had the audacity to turn it up whenever it came on the radio.
I’m sorry. It doesn’t matter how catchy Beyoncé is — that’s overkill. The Zombie has no musical opinions of his or her own and never strays from the comfort zone of popular, accessible music.
Either there is one of these music fan archetypes in your life, or you are one yourself. I know I am.
But harsh as I might sound, this article isn’t meant to separate, but rather to bring together. In the end, I hope you realize that it does not matter what type of music you listen to, or what kind of fan you are.
Deep down, everyone is terrible.