On Hating Music

You should look at talking shit about music on the internet the same way you'd look at punching someone in the face.

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Feb 18 2014, 7:30pm

The internet is a terrible place to live. It is a whirling cesspool of negativity, positivity, neutrality, built upon subreddits of subreddits, reaction selfies, listsicles that scroll into infinity, and people sharing pointless information and petty opinions every which way they can. With all of this cascading around you at a terrifying pace, the notion of separating the signal from the noise is a quixotic one. And yet we cannot conceptualize a reality in which the internet is not an everpresent force in our lives. For a certain generation, access to wifi is essentially on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, probably above the need for breathing but definitely below the need for employment. It is our flawed paradise. We will die, the internet will not.

A truly wonderful thing the internet has done is allow musicians to be heard. If you have the right song at the right time that gets heard by the right person, you can blow up overnight. Keep making music that enough people like, and you just might have a full-blown career on your hands. However, this does not change the fact that people inevitably find that a large percentage of all music is total and complete dogshit to them. If people unilaterally accepted every single piece of music as being worth their time, they would have no time to do other things.

However, this does not mean you have a need to comment every time you stumble across a piece of music you do not like. I can assure you, it is not worth it. Your snarky comment will not make it exist less, and 99% of the time you stand up to shout, “THIS IS A THING THAT IS BAD,” you have essentially undercut yourself. With any luck, your friends will all immediately become equally upset about it, and you will form an internet dogpile on top of this shitty song whose existence has not been negated. Repeat often enough, and you will find yourself with the type of lingering existential dread that comes along with knowing you are accomplishing nothing with your life. Or maybe you hate a huge, monolithic band—say The Lumineers—and want to tell the world about it. So you write a blog post, squeezing every ounce of ire you have inside of you into a post shitting on them. Perhaps the band doesn’t see it. This would make sense, because they have better things to do than google their own names. But perhaps through some stroke of luck they do see it. They read half of it and laugh, because they are millionaire musicians whose lives and careers are not affected by your puny, pathetic words.

Still, hating music, even hating music in public, is not inherently bad. It is part of being alive. But hatred is a weapon, one you must deploy with discretion. Hate too often, and your scorn loses its heft. You become just another one of those insipid goobers on the internet, farting into a pointless abyss of nothingness. But if you never hate, then how do people know where you stand? Conversely, those who maintain a relentless façade of positivity become human Upworthy articles, and you won’t believe what happens next (everyone you love abandons you and you die alone). Every fan occasionally stumbles across music so insipid, so odiously emblematic of a much greater problem in music or even culture at large that they must speak up. Some things are just bad, and they represent insidious elements of our all-too-often-fucked culture that, if allowed to spread unchecked, could make our culture even dumber and stupider, and sometimes, that must be commented upon, and you might feel like you're the one who must comment upon it. It is an act of hubris, yes, but saying you truly hate something can feel good, as if you’re excreting the negativity that’s been festering in the colon of your mind.

A good rule of thumb for hating music on the internet is to look at it the same way you’d look at punching someone in the face. Hit them hard, and hit them like you mean it. Follow through. Try to break their nose, or just be a bastard and go for the throat. Don’t do it without a damn good reason, because the consequences will immediately manifest themselves. You cannot un-punch what has already been punched. The two of you might even end up being cool afterwards, but the knowledge that you have assaulted them will be a pockmark on your relationship, hanging above you, unspoken, for perpetuity.

When you hate something strongly enough—and if you’re hating, you might as well lean in and point out everything that’s wrong with it—you’re going to provoke reactions. Maybe people think you’re right and will retweet you, passively echoing your sentiment; maybe people think you’re wrong and decide to egg your house. Lots of people won’t care, and that’s fine too. Hate for yourself and no one else. Engage with music, wrestle with it, talk about how it makes you feel. If people pay attention, it’s because you’re helping them understand their own relationship with pop culture. That’s a net positive. It’s a tiny one that ultimately doesn’t matter too much, but it’s a net positive nonetheless.

So, the next time you find a band that makes you want to curl up into a ball and die, yet another rapper superfluously hopping on whatever beat du jour is clogging up your Twitter feed, or a music video that makes your eyes bleed, say something. Or don’t. If you say nothing, it’s fine. Better, probably. But if you hate, hate hard. Hate gleefully. Hate with the intensity of a thousand suns. Let the world know where you stand, even if no one cares. Blogging is war.

Drew Millard is the Features Editor of Noisey. He's on Twitter - @drewmillard