This week I'm calling to arms a campaign to end the elitist cancer we sometimes harness against the Top 40 radio that we tend to forget we were brought up on. You can read my thoughts on The Melvins being influenced by KISS and how Brand New's The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me is more Perfect From Now On than The Bends. After that, hit the replies and answer me this: Why do you have certain tendencies to harbor "underground" music as better than radio gems? Do you ever find elements in something you like in something you hate? Have you ever not checked out a band because they were too "radio friendly" for you? What does "radio friendly" even mean for that matter?
I think it has to do with the fact that those bands don't really care for mass appeal which I respect more. I rather love something or hate it instead of being unaffected by how generic it is and knowing that it's trying to cater to the masses.
I don't hate top 40 music, just haven't liked a lot of the top 40 music from the past decade. Like this new Taylor Swift song... It's disappointing to me that lot of really deserving music, doesn't get its chance to shine. Plus because I don't listen to the radio, I tend to miss a lot the songs that are Top 40, so its easier to fall into listening to only indie music. Lastly, I am able to find my own music, so I don't rely on the radio to dictate what I listen to. (I'll still keep an open mind for what I DO hear on the radio though.)
Honestly IMO the Top 40 isn't the same now as it was a couple years ago, I see more and more of my favorite underground bands hitting the charts everyday. I used to hate the Top 40 because I felt that most of the artists were pretty faces singing songs written by someone else, formulaic songs with no real emotions created solely to become hit singles. To me "Radio-Friendly" means the music doesn't push any boundaries, it's been watered down, and it's hollow to appeal to the masses. But lately I've felt differently about it, with bands like fun., Mumford & Sons, Alabama Shakes, and my sports news station using ManOrch's - "I've got Friends" as their intro, I've seen a shift in mainstream music for the better, which I believe is because of sites like this and the ease of finding new music in this day and age. Maybe it's just me but I feel like the radio is getting better because music listeners are becoming more knowledgeable of all the different kinds of music that are out there and are easily accessible.
I always thought The Devil and God borrowed a lot from The Lonesome Crowded West. Whenever I hear that progression at the end of "Lounge (Closing Time)", I think of "Degausser" and vice versa. Modest Mouse and Built to Spill grew out of the same Up Records roots, so the similarities you see with Perfect From Now On make sense. But that influence is one of the reasons I like The Devil and God so much, far more than anything else Brand New have ever done. I don't feel that been-there-heard-that attitude toward it at all. If I had dismissed it out of hand as a knockoff, I would have missed out on an album that was very, very important to me at a time when I really needed it to be. I don't believe there is anything to be gained by pigeonholing yourself as a listener, or closing yourself off to something in the interest of "cred." It's okay to take pleasure in something you like, even if that something is Seven Mary Three's "Cumbersome". What's nothing more than a whipping boy to one critic or another might be something of great meaning to someone's life. You can't rate that in increments of 0.1.
Seek out what turns you on. Treasure what you enjoy. Ignore the rest.
I think we're seeing a lot more of an indie influence on top 40 songs. I think people are finally seeing that pop music music and the top 40 doesn't have to be a direct synonym for whatever talent disney is farming out. take fun. for an example, and how all those guys came from their own small label bands and embraced their love of over the top pop tunes, and are now wildly successful because of it.
I love a song regardless of its popularity, because I just judge how it makes me feel when I hear it for the first time. For example, two of my favorite songs the past couple of days are from Carly Rae Jepsen's new record. It's simple: if the melody gives me goosebumps, then I'm always going to love it from there on out.
There are really two sides to it. Top 40 music is (typically) background noise for most people that listen to it on the radio. That being said, to people that value music so strongly, the attitude of "I listen to whatever is on the radio" is seen as a form of blind complacency. Not to mention, its difficult to find songs that can make you emote like Brand New or City & Color(for example) that gets played on the radio.
When you're young and you become part of a scene (metal, indie, whatever), it becomes your identity and part of that includes, at least to me, rejecting the mainstream stuff that is kinda spoon fed to you from the radio. It took me until I was 22 or 23 to start to realize that respecting good pop songs on the radio doesn't matter. The idea of "scene points" kinda goes away eventually and you can dig whatever you want without caring what other people think.
I just feel like smaller bands are more grounded than a lot of the bigger bands. They're more real and you're more likely to find them hanging around after their performance if you see them live, which is always awesome. Along that same line, bigger bands don't play smaller venues often and I like smaller shows a lot better. I guess I just feel that underground bands have a more intimate relationship with their fans. Little things like having the band itself run their Facebook page or Tumblr and having the option to have conversations with them makes a band feel more like normal people and less like huge celebrities. I do find a lot of good music on a local alternative station, though.