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Volume 70, Issue 60, Monday, November 15, 2004

Life & Arts

Snobs miss out by rejecting mainstream

Nerd Alert

Barrett Goldsmith

When did "mainstream" become a dirty word? 

If I here one more person say "that's so mainstream" or "that's so corporate," I'm going to drench that person with scalding Starbucks coffee, run them over with a Ford Explorer and stuff Big Macs and Coca-Cola down his or her throat while playing Britney Spears in the background. 

People who pride themselves on being "alternative" or "different" conform to the same rigid stereotype as the corporate sellout with his suit, tie, SUV and country club membership. 

Those people reject anything consumed by the public in mass quantities and seek out only things that fit in with their "eclectic" personality. Sorry folks, but eventually "eclectic" becomes "pathetic." 

Take music, for example. People like to impress others by dropping names of underground bands that no one has ever heard of. Sure, it's a great feeling to get someone else interested in a band or artist you like. But make sure you're doing it for the right reasons, not just to wow someone with your obscure knowledge. 

Saying a musician is mainstream may sound like an insult, but I'm afraid those corporate sellouts are making a lot more money and getting a lot more play than whatever band you've "discovered." Sure, a lot of artists who achieve mainstream success are total hacks and I am repulsed by more than a few, but a lot of them are talented and even -- gasp -- fun to listen to. 

And what's with this aversion to the radio? True, most people prefer CDs or tapes because they're on-demand listening, but that doesn't mean that some good songs don't make it onto the airwaves. 

"Oh my God, you're listening to that song? It's on the radio." 


For me, music doesn't have to be sophisticated to catch my ear. Sure, I like being challenged aurally sometimes, but music doesn't have to be intellectually or spiritually enriching to receive my stamp of approval. I get smarter by reading books; I get enjoyment from listening to music. 

And if someone piggybacks on somebody else's sound -- great. Blatant copyright infringement like sampling and lame cover versions don't tickle my fancy, but bands that sound a bit like another band don't bother me. All great art takes elements from the art that came before it. 

In fact, music is like everything else in my life -- it reminds me of food. I'm not going to say no to a tasty meal because other people eat it. I may want an expertly prepared delicacy once in a while, but I'll take a Fuddruckers burger or some Popeye's chicken any day. 

And here's some trivia for you crazy cats. 

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck, assuming of course that a woodchuck could, in fact, chuck wood? 

Answer: Six bushels. 

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