The Long Hard Road out of Music Hell

Zander By Zander, 19th Sep 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Music>Genres

Genres. Genres everywhere. What do they mean? How relevant are they? Are they as important as some music fans think they are? How do they interfere with the enjoyment of music?

Navigating through genres.

Music genres can sure be confusing, can’t they? “It’s rock!” “No, it’s post-hardcore!” “No, it’s experimental art alternative!” Bands, especially those that experiment, can be potentially any genre that a group of people wishes to cram them into. It all becomes very confusing. Some people become obsessed with genres, excluding their music tastes to only one or two, and refusing to try out anything different.
Now, is that necessarily an error on their part? It’s certainly trivial in the grand scheme of things. Life is short, and music fans should spend it listening to what they want, not catering to the egos of others. That’s the beauty of music—there is a type of it out there for everyone, no matter how widespread it is. All a person needs is some motivation and an open mind to find it, should they be inclined to do so. Besides, no one likes a music snob labeling anyone who doesn’t listen to Genre X or Genre Y as a music Nazi by default.
However, with this confinement, some observing can lead to the conclusion that, too often, people don’t even want to like music. A person might youtube a song or two that his/her friend recommended, listen to a sample of 30 or so seconds, not get the desired result, and deem it “crap.” This is true in all forms of stereotypical music fans: the classic rock fan who refuses to listen to anything past 1979; the Indie fan who stops listening to a band once it becomes more popular; the metalhead that dismisses anything without double bass drums and guitar solos as pop music. They’re all out there, and they could be potentially living in blissful ignorance of music that could open to them whole new doors.
But this article is not designated to demonize or label those people as inferior music lovers. Taste in music, needless to say, is a very small factor in the human equation, as well as a very personal quality. Looking down on someone for their taste in music is no better than looking down on them for the types of shoes they wear or the brand of chips they buy at Safeway. Plus, can anyone say with a straight face that diverse taste in music leads to some form of enlightenment or transcendence?
Perhaps the point here is that, with different genres of music, comes the fact that none of these titles really matter in the long run. Good music is good music, and bad music is bad music. Okay, Nine Inch Nails may not be “true industrial” music, but ignore the genre tag and judge it for what it is. Listen to the lyrics, the sounds, the ideas, the concepts, and the layers. Skinny Puppy may not have much going for them in the department of hooks or choruses, but look at them from a different angle. Consider the dark, ambient atmosphere and the apocalyptic chaos that’s so prevalent in the noises they compose. Become lost within it all.
Some bands create music so strange and “out there” that labeling it is almost impossible. Norwegian band Ulver was once a black metal outfit, with what many people clearly and easily defined as such. Later, they developed into a band that combined genres such as electronic, jazz, trip-hop, ambient, classical, industrial, and avant-garde. In particular, their album Blood Inside shattered many listeners’ perceptions of them, creating one of the densest, strangest, and most experimental records out there. It became clear that they wished to not be defined by one specific sound, and this bravery and pursuit to experiment has developed for them a wide and devoted following all over the world.
What many people might not realize, or at least take for granted, is that, if all artists confined themselves to genres and didn’t break the rules every now and then, none of their favorite music would even exist. Black Sabbath never would have tuned their guitars down and sing about despair and loneliness, thus never laying out the blueprint of heavy metal. Gary Numan never would have let the synthesizer dominate his early work, forever damning the genre of synthpop and, to a lesser extent, gothic music, to a world of obscurity. Even The Beatles would have been affected; they were the first band to focus on entire albums instead of single hit songs, as well as experimenting with various genres and instruments to bring a very diverse, creative edge to their music. Had they resisted, music would never be as diverse, exciting, and experimental as it has been over the decades.
Love for music is a powerful force; it should be celebrated, not condemned. As stated before, people are better off listening to what they enjoy; they are not obligated to become connoisseurs of every possible genre out there, especially with the infernal bickering over which band is what. But the best possible move for the music lovers determined to broaden their horizons is to throw off the shackles of genres and explore the hundreds, even thousands of fantastic bands and artists out there just waiting to be heard by anyone and everyone.


Genres, Indie, Metal, Nine Inch Nails, Skinny Puppy, Ulver

Meet the author

author avatar Zander
19. Journalism student. Fan of Goth/industrial music and dark cinema and literature. Aspiring novelist.

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