Poptimism forever

AYLA SHIBLAQ argues that pop shouldn’t be a guilty pleasure

I’ve never liked Taylor Swift. Actually, that’s a complete lie: I did like Taylor Swift when I was about 12 years old. Since then, I was pretty adamant about not liking pop. Was it because of Taylor Swift? Oh no, definitely not. It started with the morning car rides to elementary school.

As a “tween,” I almost exclusively listened to pop and rap. My morning radio station choices were excruciating for the entire family; my father hates anything released after 1989 unless it’s The Fray or Celtic music, and my Mother only listens to whatever my Father plays. But here I was, defiantly blasting Fergie’s “The Dutchess.” My parents’ rumblings during the 7:00 am commute ranged from “What is this crap?” to “This wouldn’t have been released in the 80’s. Air Supply is far better.” Of course, I tried to rebel, but after all these years of resisting, I eventually drank the Kool-Aid my parents had been serving all along, agreeing with them that my generation’s pop music was, essentially, absolute garbage. Thus began my slow descent into music snobbery.

For all of 2008, I only listened to The Beatles and U2. For some god-awful reason, I believed that these were some of the few, if not the only, artists who released quality music. There really wasn’t much logic behind it; but, alas, I was 12 years young, and honestly, I just really wanted to be cool. However, I did secretly listen to Ke$ha, Nicki Minaj, and any artist that had YouTube comments that included “I miss the old rap like Tupac and Biggie” and “Whatever happened to rock?”

I’ve been the judge, and I’ve been the judged. But when it comes down to it, I must confess that I, Ayla Shiblaq, am a proud poptimist. I will no longer pretend that I do not like music that has been released because it is popular. I want to put Miley Cyrus on my gym playlist, along with Death Grips. “Do My Thang” is a great running song. While songs like these have gotten millions of plays, this day and age is characterized by a reverse assessment of music — the less plays, the better it is. I’m all about supporting the unsung hero, but there is a reason why millions of people listen to certain artists: there is some sort of talent that leads to success and, indie or not, they create art, just like every other musician.

It’s high time that we change our attitudes toward music appreciation. It’s one thing to criticize music, but another to criticize someone for finding joy in it. Yes, some songs don’t have as much depth as others. For example, I would assess that Blood Orange’s 2013 release, Cupid, was instrumentally intricate and emotionally resonant, but that doesn’t mean that Miley Cyrus’ BANGERZ was complete garbage in comparison. BANGERZ had great production value and turned out to be one of the catchiest albums of 2013 — whether you liked it or not.

I’ve panned albums, I’ve praised albums, and I have, to this day, not gotten into Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs. However, I can freely say that I don’t feel guilty for the music I do and do not like, and you shouldn’t either. So I guess it’s time to say: I do like Taylor Swift, again.

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