Music: Levels of appreciation

Hip Hop by Tom NashThis was originally about Hip Hop music specifically, but I realised you could change the genre and artists and the points would remain the same. So, here are the six levels of music appreciation:

Level 1: Awareness of the existence of music.
Their CD collection is probably made up entirely of Now That’s What I Call Music compilations and albums by X-Factor winners (*sigh*). They tend to have their car stereo tuned to Radio One too. If they can’t sing along or dance to it, they won’t really get it. It is safe to bet that these are also the people that do that moronic ‘ooh-ooh’ thing to just about any song that plays in a nightclub.

Level 2: Appreciation of particular songs.
This person has probably downloaded a few albums, for the singles they liked and songs that remind them of their youth. They might have even bought a CD or two in their time.

A good example is those people who liked ‘Crazy’ by Gnarls Barkley a few years back, bought the album expecting more of the same, were disappointed and are now confused by this Cee-Lo Green character, as they thought he was Gnarls Barkley. Don’t even bother trying to explain who Danger Mouse is.

This is the person (if they’re in their late 20s or 30s) who knows all the words to ‘Jump Around’ by House of Pain or ‘Ice Ice Baby’ by Vanilla Ice but couldn’t name another song of theirs if they tried. Although being able to name another Vanilla Ice track isn’t necessarily a good thing… Bad example…

Level 3: Appreciation of particular artists.
At this level, the signs of elitism begin to show. They may have a few pop artists in their collection but their taste is becoming more refined. A twenty year old who just discovered the Beatles probably falls into this category, as does anyone who believes ‘this artist understands me’.

Level 4: The old school fan.
Not sure how this works with other genres but in Hip Hop you get two types: The ‘proper old school’ who bemoans all modern Hip Hop and claims the genre peaked in the late 1980s and the ‘not quite as old school’, who bemoans all modern Hip Hop and claims the genre peaked in the late 1990s. They reel off lists of artists you should be listening to, not this rubbish, and will disregard anything new without giving it a listen. I’m guessing every subculture has their own equivalent.

Level 5: The fan-boy or ‘Stan’ (in reference to the popular Eminem track).
These are the people that ceaselessly promote, defend and praise a particular artist or label’s product, particularly online. Put something negative in the comments on a My Chemical Romance Youtube video and see how quickly the hate spills forth, if you would like an example.

Now occasionally this is warranted. For example, two ‘underground’ Hip Hop labels, Rhymesayers and QN5, consistently release exceptional work. Due to this, over the last ten or so years they have built a devoted fanbase that will attack any naysayers with venom. When it’s an artist (in the loosest sense of the word) such as Ke$ha, it’s a bit harder to fathom…

Level 6: The true elitist.
This person bemoans the quality of the artists featured on the radio and praises the lyricism, skill and artistic integrity of whoever it is they listen to. They might check out Kanye West‘s new album, as it’s getting superb reviews but that’s it. If it ain’t obscure, they ain’t interested. Look through this person’s music collection and you probably won’t recognise a single name. And that’s the way they like it. Artists who get radio play are strictly off limits and if someone they previously championed becomes popular in the mainstream, they will immediately label them as ‘sell-outs’ and stop following them. People who happily listen to chart music are viewed with distain that occasionally borders on hatred.

Want an example? Have a look at how the internets reacted to the news that the ‘saviour of Rap’ Jay Electronica had signed with Jay-Z‘s label…