The last thing I ever want to be thought of as — well, maybe not the last thing — one of the worst things I could be thought of as is a music snob. (See the above picture for my definition of a music snob.)
I’ve always been self-aware of my musical taste, but that’s only because I grew up around cooler older kids and their super cool older brothers. Music, more so than my limited athletic ability and sheepish personality (at the time), gave me a chance to communicate with kids way higher on the cool hierarchy. That’s the thing about music — it doesn’t define who you are, and frankly, it doesn’t give a shit who you are.
That’s where music snobs get lost.
Around last summer, Apple screwed the pooch and eliminated their celebrity playlists section from the iTunes Store. That was my very favorite feature on the Internet, if only because it made me appreciate the way we come to music and how, with all the songs in the world, we gravitate toward certain genres, albums, songs and artists.
The celebrity playlists have been replaced by celebrity playlist podcasts where someone like Quentin Tarantino will attempt to make you feel like an idiot because you’ve never heard of some obscurbe Russian jazz-infusion quartet from the 1980s. That’s not my thing.
There was a good three years where I wanted to be a celebrity just so I could drop knowledge with my own celebrity playlist. My taste is hardly unique. It borders on “poppy.” It’s not quite revelatory to who I am as a person because the gangster rap-song-to-times-I’ve-acted-gangster ratio is way too disproportionate.
Still, I’m not letting my lack of fame stop me. Here’s some chestnuts that help me keep my chin up, my citizen playlist, if you will:
Rose Parks – OutKast – No rap group has managed to transcend age and race like OutKast. This is the type of song you wouldn’t be that shocked to learn your white grandma likes. It’s just as cool now as it was 16 years ago. That’s saying something.
Lost – Michael Bublé – The one knock on this Canadian crooner is he’s essentially a cover act. This is an original song, though. I think he got bored and thought, How can I disintegrate any woman’s pants in less than forty seconds? Wa-la. Done and done. Michael Bublé 1, Naysayers 0.
Electric Feel – MGMT – I was really late to this one, but this song has one of the most digusting beats I’ve ever heard and the whole thing is sung in falsetto. It really brings out my inner-hipster. It makes me do that awkward head-bob-and-lip-curl thing we white men are justifiably ridiculed over.
Nothing Ever Hurt Like You – James Morrison Morrison is the Smokey Robinson to Ray LaMontagne’s Otis Redding. If I could change one thing, I’d bring in the B3 organ, but still, Morrison’s one of the best voices out of England since Coldplay’s Chris Martin.
Rich Girl – Hall & Oates – H&O is widely considered kitsch now as we peer back at the ’80s, but something about this beat is so Kanye West. Pretty racy chorus, too: It’s a bitch girl/ And it’s gone too far/ ‘Cause you know it don’t matter anyway. It’s a monster hit in 2:26. Time well spent.
Water and a Flame – Daniel Merriweather feat. Adele The rare modern duet where two unique voices work better together than apart. If their agents really liked money, they would call for a merger.
Pass Out – Chris Brown feat. Esther Dean – If you’ve pleaded guilty for domestic violence, probably not the best choice to sing Can’t wait ’til you pass out. Thankfully, the lyric is actually Do it ’til you pass out, but you’ll be duped at first listen. Infectious beat, ridiculous vocal effects but some hard-to-interpret lyrics. Regardless, it’s the ass-shaker of the year.
Fresh Air – Brother Ali This one proves you can be an Albino Muslim from Minnesota and make bragging about your kids, watching cartoons and making pancakes all seem cool. Ali effortlessly flows over a whirling, soulful beat.
Buster Voodoo – Rodrigo y Gabriela – Careful listening to this song while walking in public. Either the world around you will ease into slow motion or you’ll start walking like a bandito on his way to a gunfight.
Beast of Burden – The Rolling Stones – By far, the most vulnerable rock song ever. Mick Jagger bleeds on this all-time karaoke classic. This is the Muddy Waters influence at its best.
Sour Patch Kids – Asher Roth – The once-though novelty rapper for his corny debut single I Love College shows flexibility on this politically charged track. There’s no beat he can’t handle with his dexterous flow.