Should Your Music Be Top Ten?

Andrew Belonsky :: Tuesday, June 1st, 2010 10:00 am

A person’s music library speaks volumes. If someone asks you about your aural collection, you don’t go straight for the Justin Bieber or Miley’s infectious single, “Party in the U.S.A.” You highlight the exceptional, the rare, “Check out this live recording of Television from Max’s Kansas City” sounds way more cool than, “This is a mass produced Black Eyed Peas’ album.” What happens, then, when your favorite band blows up? Do you abandon them all together?

Many months ago, when Spoon released their latest offering, Transference, I asked an old friend, one who had helped turn me onto the band, whether or not he had given it s a listen. “No,” he sneered with disdain, “I’ve given up on Spoon. They’re too popular.” I can understand that sentiment: when something special goes public, it can lose its allure. Now that Lady Gaga’s everywhere, I can barely stand the broad.

Arcade Fire provides another example. Pretend you came of age in Montreal, where the band got their start, and helped form the band’s first fan club. Their first album, Funeral, seemed like a gift just for you. Then something unsettling happened: the masses began catching on to the catchy tunes and Arcade Fire lost their outside luster. Should you give up on them? Should I swear off Broken Bells because one of their tracks made it onto 90210? I think not.

Sure, it can be irritating when strangers hop on the band wagon you helped start, and your taste suddenly becomes completely banal. It’s a discomfiting, jealous-inducing experience, and one that can make a man –- or woman -– more than a little bitter. But rather than cringing at the mass produced hysteria, which may be a natural reaction, I think we should be happy for a band’s success, even if that means their concerts will be populated by seventh grade girls, one of the world’s most trying populations.

No, you don’t have to buy top ten albums –- not if you don’t want to, at least. You should rejoice, however, when your favorite bottom rung band reaches the top. Sure, people may think you’re simply following a trend, but you’ll know what’s up, and earn some good karma in the process.