I used to be up to date on what was going on in the music scene. Not the pop music scene — that’s easy enough to keep track of. I remember first discovering Nicki Minaj while I was at the gym. “Who the hell is that black Barbie with the crazy coloured wigs? Why is her butt so big? Do I find her attractive or repulsive?”
I actually really like Nicki Minaj–don’t ostracise me!
They always have pop music videos on at the gym. All those singers and dancers flaunting outrageously toned bodies, gyrating to choppy, refractive beats — it immediately acts on the gym-goer’s psyche. You run faster, pump harder, ellipticise more violently. I’m also subjected to an obscene amount of pop music whenever I get my nails done. During yesterday’s much-needed manicure, I had to watch Justin Beiber smile at me coyly while he splashed around in a water park for three whole minutes. It was enough to turn my stomach, but I couldn’t pry my eyes away.
Look at this guy. Splashing around.
No, when I say the music scene, I mean the kind of music that I actually enjoy — indie bands and the like. Why, I used to go to shows and gigs regularly. I used to spend hours making CD compilations to trade with friends. I would scan pitchfork.com every week, hoping to stay abreast of the best new music out there. But the older I got, the less excited I became about what hot, new, young bands were producing.
I think it’s because of the same reason why I dislike watching television shows or movies about teenagers — I don’t want to celebrate the success and talents of people younger than me. It’s very petty, I admit, but it simply is the case. I just can’t take them seriously, and I feel foolish for being at all involved in what it is they do.
This means I can watch a high school movie from the 80s (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, for example) or the 90s (Ten Things I Hate About You, Empire Records, and Cruel Intentions are personal favourites), whereas something like the Bling Ring is a no-go. Except if the high school is set in the past, or if it’s a fantasy high school, like Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
A life without music is no life at all, so rather than attempt to keep up with the times I just listened retroactively. Any music I had amassed up to that point (let’s say up to when I was 25) and earlier was solid. Anything newer than that, I approach with skepticism. And you know, plenty of amazing music had been made by then, so there was a lot to catch up on.
Still, although I hate to admit it, some of these (silly) youngsters are actually making good stuff. The trick is to get me to listen to it without disclosing the age of the band members. When I’m already hooked and can’t help but click ‘repeat,’ well, who cares if they’re just massively talented 21 year-olds that put my meagre life accomplishments so far to shame?!
With that said, I’d like to introduce Cults, a two-man band. Well, one’s a man and the other one’s a woman. Their self-titled debut album, released in 2011, has been playing on repeat on my laptop. Their sound is a little tinny, a little teeny, and very girl-pop circa the 1960s. Does this make any sense at all? This is what Pitchfork’s Joe Tangari wrote and it sounds about right to me. For a much better description of what this album sounds like, you should probably read Tangari’s review at Pitchfork yourself.
But if you just want to listen to a couple of good songs, here are my two favourites off the album: