Thursday, March 27, 2008

What is Bad Music?

The most common response from folks when I'm drunkenly relaying the idea for this book/blog onto them is the question "Well, what do you consider bad music?" It's a question that is not only fair, but one that is definitely going to need to be established if this series is going to make any sense.

Since music is art, and art is subjective, technically speaking, there should be no such animal as "bad music." But of course, you and I both know damn well that the overwhelming majority of music in circulation is absolutely awful. I have no interest in mulling over every fly-by-night garage band whose shitty home recordings are posted proudly all over Myspace. And even though I feel and know in my heart of hearts that Dave Matthews and Limp Bizkit have created some of the worst sounds ever committed to tape, their legions of followers disqualify them from inclusion here as well. It is very important that taste play no part in this study. For every one person that loathes John Mayer and Celine Dion, there are 100 more that do not. It's not enough to be detested by half the people some of the time, or some of the people half of the time. This music must be well documented as the target of widespread scrutiny by someone other than myself time and time again. It must have been publicly scorned by the greater number of journalists and disappointed consumers who heard and dismissed it long before I could have. This badness must be evidenced by not only poor record sales, but also by having been the subject of exceptional mockery and chronicled into history as having failed miserably as both a commercial product and artistic endeavor.

Many of these pieces have already been compiled and ridiculed in myriad 10 lists by various websites, men's magazines and the like. There have already been books dedicated to the worst records ever made, the worst bands of all time, and so on. I have been using these as part of my research, and do not feel this is in any way cheating. I'm not simply trying to recompile this information into my own collection. But rather, through a combination of research, reflection, and self indulgent essays I hope to finally answer the question of what bad music is, what actually makes music bad, where bad music comes from, how bad music is made, and why it just keeps on coming in higher and higher volumes as time marches onward.

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