My Personal One Song Wonders

You, dear reader, have the best taste in music. With that compliment, do you feel sufficiently prepared for me to express my dislike for your favorite bands? Since you’re so nice (a no obligation compliment), I’ll commence a very brief insult period:

In general, I don’t care for Radiohead or My Bloody Valentine.

That’s it. That’s the worst I have to say about them. They are, to be sure, excellent bands with devoted following and well-deserved reputation … except to me. To me, they are one hit wonders where that song, that one single song of theirs, is so transcendent that it’s almost inconceivable that I don’t like the rest of their music. Almost.

The source of the awesome bass sound in “The National Anthem” by Radiohead

First up: Radiohead. I don’t dislike Radiohead. I won’t run screaming if I hear the creative product of Masters Yorke, Greenwood, Greenwood, O’Brien, and Selway. I actually respect them a lot for their independence and their desire to pursue creativity over popularity. As a bonus, they’ve actually earned real popularity. My complaint is that I find their music alienating. I’m certainly not opposed to alienating music, but their particular flavor sounds to me like the alienation a ghost must feel, just after death, but before settling in to ghostdom. It’s the moments when you wake up but aren’t quite sure you’ve woken up. In the roller coaster world, it might be the first moment just after reaching the top of the first hill. You see, I don’t like that kind of where-am-I-going alienation. I much prefer, and am much more experienced at, alienation-as-rebellion. That said, I love love love Radiohead’s “The National Anthem” from Kid A. The driving pulsing bass repetition is impossible to ignore and impossible to disengage from. If the song were nothing but that, it would still be a great song. But, on top of that perfect bass, is a rotating cast of structured energy and chaotic abandon. It’s music that is about to fall apart, almost, but doesn’t. The bass glues it together, keeping it just barely on rails.

“Only Shallow” by My Bloody Valentine … their best track ever.

Number 2: My Bloody Valentine. As music, I do dislike My Bloody Valentine, but as creativity, I respect it a lot. As music, I can find very little to grab on to and, barring that, I don’t trust it enough to let go and enjoy the ride. Water parks are full of these kinds of fluid-laden washes without trustworthy handles. But water parks have boundaries beyond which landlubber physics work predictably. In a water park, I know that, eventually, I will return to dry (dripping?) land. I don’t get that from My Bloody Valentine. I feel as if I’m being musically flushed down the world’s noisiest never-ending toilet. Fluid metaphors aside, the band deserves respect not necessarily for it’s obsessive pursuit of perfection, but for it’s ability to show subtlety inside vast washes of noise. I am not good enough to hear and enjoy that subtlety, but I think it’s an excellent goal that they apparently achieve admirably. Despite my indifference about MBV, I am fantastically in love with “Only Shallow“. The way the song alternates between the kind of ethereal parts with incomprehensible female vocals and the driving rhythmic guitar screaming that opens the song leaves me feeling the thrilling possibility of indistinct noise. The distinct noise contrasts wonderfully with the more washed out sections of the song, giving rails to the water park ride, boundaries that comfort me.

If I wanted to be accepted by the cool kids, I suppose I’d just rave about these songs and hope they never challenge me on my love for the bands themselves. But I can’t pretend. So, while the cool kids talk about the merits of The King of Limbs or mbv, I’ll take a quick trip to the vending machines. Can I get anything for you while I’m there?

15 thoughts on “My Personal One Song Wonders

  1. First of all, thank you for the compliments!!

    I am teased for my taste in music by a man who listens to music that most would make fun of him for listening to. My boss listens to a massively eclectic range of music, none of which I care for.

    You like what you like and don’t what you don’t.

    I’m listening to the soundtrack from the Romeo & Juliet movie… But I may listen to The King of Limbs next… šŸ˜›

    • If you’re cool enough for the King Of Limbs, you’re WAY cooler than me! To prove my uncoolness, I think I’ll go off and listen to the Sadies, reputed to be almost country sounding, just to satisfy my (currently) lazy tastes.

  2. Be as rude as you like about Radiohead (who I do love) and MBV (who I share your views on totally), but one tiny word out of place about Angus Young and Wales will formally declare war on Colorado – although it will take our avenging army a while to get there, so if you don’t all mind waiting around on the weekend after next, that’s when we will smite thee.

    • I’m free that weekend should smithing be required. Let’s see, Wales, where rugby is played without a helmet and Colorado where cycling requires a helmet … I think I like Angus very much. In fact, my first vinyl purchase was “Back in Black” within a year of its release. I’d only diss him gently.

  3. I have dozens of bands where this applies, first and foremost the Pixies and Smashing Pumpkins. It’s nearly philosophical, the age-old question of beauty/art, whether it is in the eye of the beholder or something that actually is somewhat detached from your individual opinion. I do realize the genius of these bands and would never say that they are bad but I simply don’t get any pleasure from listening to them.
    Sometimes, it’s just not your cup of tea and that’s that. But at least we can acknowledge that these bands are good and don’t try to come up with some stupid explanation why they are horrible and everyone who likes them has horrible taste in music.

    • I agree on both of those bands. I used to be a major Pixies fan, but now,unless it’s “Here Comes Your Man” I immediately switch to something else.

    • Nah. I love more than one of her songs. Her James Bond theme song, fit example, had me ignoring the visuals and just staring into space.

  4. Lol. I dont care for my bloody valentine. But radiohead, they are part of my college days nostalgia. One group from that time I just cannot stand is Blond Melon and that silly bee costume video. I always feel like im going to puke when i hear them (not so often anymore other than on VHI1s one hit wonder shows)

    • His energies are devoted to re-invention as a whole person unhindered by fear and pain. Through his whole life, he has applied bandages and simple relief to that which he now seeks to cure. He maintains wit and creativity, enough to speak in the third person, but practices a constructive selfishness. Happily, peace blooms a month or so ahead of spring.

      • Well, this is a fine how do you do. Sometimes there is just no substitute for regeneration. But in the meantime (it is now the first day of Spring, so I can say this with the anticipation that it will not last much longer – tu me manques. Be well my friend.

Am I wrong?