I Hate Talking About Music

By: Nick Southall

Posted 01/10/2006 - 08:08:17 AM by Batgirl:
 That was a bit dull. Mwhahahaha.
Posted 01/10/2006 - 08:08:49 AM by Batgirl:
 I'm lying btw. I liked it very much.
Posted 01/10/2006 - 08:14:19 AM by Skee-lo:
 I agree with the BSS thing. It's easier to appareciate something when there's no hype. Embrace were that band, right?
Posted 01/10/2006 - 08:27:09 AM by NickSouthall:
 That'd be telling, Skee-lo. I actually mean Scarfo.
Posted 01/10/2006 - 08:38:33 AM by vinegar:
 Points taken. All of them. Although, re: 20 - yes, if 'popism' means ILM's The Lex's version of it. No, if it means Tom Ewing's version of it. (FWIW, I immediately assumed you meant The Verve. Well)
Posted 01/10/2006 - 08:41:43 AM by NickSouthall:
 ILM's TheLex is none other than our own Singles Jukebox contributor Alex Macpherson, btw.
Posted 01/10/2006 - 09:19:42 AM by bassman08:
 Wait so Nick, lemme get this straight: I'm 19. You're saying that I can, in fact, care about Bloc Party and have it be legit? Just want to clarify this. Because I do. And I need vindication from the part of hipster crowd that hates them (You ever notice how, on a hype band, the hipsters are always split half-hand-half between the "thinks they're the most brialliant thing ever" camp and the "they're utter bullshit" camp?)
Posted 01/10/2006 - 09:28:03 AM by NickSouthall:
 bassman08; please read the rest of the article past the first two paragraphs. I'm not talking about you AT ALL. Also what on Earth is a hipster? I'm a 26 year old Englishman.
Posted 01/10/2006 - 09:29:20 AM by bassman08:
 That guy on Tiny Mix Tapes doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about anyway. And I agree with you on number 22. I hate it when people fucking do that.
Posted 01/10/2006 - 09:34:15 AM by bassman08:
 I read it. I get it now.
Posted 01/10/2006 - 10:43:34 AM by janinedm:
 First: I find talking about music to be very valuable, since no one's sending me free CDs. I'm sure you obtain music in other ways, but using friends and strangers as guinea pigs can save a lot of money and time. This can backfire, someone can describe a great band in such a way as to make you avoid them like to plague. Why not use music reviews? I don't know you, dude. I've never met you. I just like good music writing. Two: The Radiohead talk reminded me of that Far Side cartoon where they had a support group for people who didn't Like Dances with Wolves (a minority at the time for all you youngsters).
Posted 01/10/2006 - 10:57:39 AM by itsabouttime:
 "Why are 14-year-old girls necessarily less valid listeners than 21-year-old boys?" Normally I'd agree, but isn't a lot of the criticism of Conor that it's only angsty 14 year old girls that like him, because he's pretty (alledgedly)? And isn't a lot of the criticism towards Girls Aloud that only hipster 20-somethings like them because they're trying to show their devotion to "popism" and sex and dancing? Or maybe that was your point all along... (Personally I'm a big fan of both, calling John Peel a "crackhead" aside.)
Posted 01/10/2006 - 01:11:15 PM by vinegar:
 "ILM's TheLex is none other than our own Singles Jukebox contributor Alex Macpherson, btw."... Erm, yes, of course he is. I just YSI'ed him an Ashlee Simpson track, btw. (And you)
Posted 01/10/2006 - 01:26:08 PM by Zarklephaser:
 According to, Ladies and Gentlemen and OK Computer were both released on July 1, 1997, in the United States.
Posted 01/10/2006 - 01:30:48 PM by Zarklephaser:
 Nick, I do prefer Ladies and Gentlemen to OK Computer on the whole (although it seems like comparing apples to oranges), and I had heard Richard D. James album (which I absolutely love) as well as "MBV Arkestra" by the time Kid A was released in 2000, and I still cannot name an album that has so drastically altered my perception of music as much as Kid A the first time I played it through.
Posted 01/10/2006 - 01:30:49 PM by J_R_K_:
 it wasn't until late last year when i had seen broken social scene play for the second time that "anthems for an 18 year old girl" revealed its magnifience to me. i had been wondering if something was wrong with me, since i'd been listening to that record for two years just like these internet hipster had been telling me.
Posted 01/10/2006 - 04:14:30 PM by cwperry:
 I depise talking music with people in person, and avoid it if I can. It stressed me out the first time I went to a record store with my girlfriend and had to explain why I was buying Dock Boggs and Lightning Bolt. I can't exactly avoid the topic with her, but as for others I'd prefer that they think I don't even listen to music. It's so much easier.
Posted 01/10/2006 - 05:47:02 PM by dave_pullar:
 I dunno Nick - aren't you kind of having your cake and eating it too with this article? It's struck me that you've effectively dismissed everyone else's views as either too lowbrow (liking dull music a la Bright Eyes) or too faux-highbrow (liking Radiohead, pretending to dislike Girls Aloud when they're clearly awesome) and then defused any criticism by little self-referential comments about how asinine your comments were. What are we left with?
Posted 01/10/2006 - 07:22:36 PM by dave_pullar:
 Actually, just ignore that last comment. I'm just being a shit.
Posted 01/10/2006 - 07:46:21 PM by zivotjejinde:
 I understand the point about dull and boring being lame criticisms. To me, that gets back to the point of hating talking about music, particularly dull music (which may be your point). The last thing I want to do with boring music is delve into it to discover the particulars of its drabness, or discuss it any further, really.
Posted 01/10/2006 - 07:50:51 PM by PeteGuy:
 Grand piece Nick, a fun read. Surely, that's what music and indeed music journalism should be about, fun (!?).

I haven't the foggiest where this piece 'fits' into Stylus' little pigeonholes, but it read like some kind of late night confessional after a few ales.

The continuing references to Radiohead struck a chord with myself and remind me of this month's edition of Q maagazine.

Having subscribed since my early teens I've read with increasingly weary eyes how they've (Q) gone through their U2 phase via REM and finally stuck with Thom and co. as the 'greatest', culminating in this month's most grey edition ever - the definitive top 100 LPs (they've compiled a top 100 three times in about the last five years), with in this latest edition, The 'Head topping at numbers 1 (OK Computer) and 2 (The Bends).

This repetative, lazy and utterly redundant style of music journalism ultimately makes listeners start to dismiss and grow weary of bands - even ones they may have held dear. While also, and maybe most importantly, reaffirming beliefs that maybe, just maybe, OK Computer is the best record ever... Yeah, right!

Which links to your best point - number 23.

I was almost force fed Jaga Jazzists' What We Must by an over-zealous mate championing them for the majority of 2005. It subsequently took me until December's quite phenomenal show at the Mars Volta-curated All Tomorrow's Parties for me to get into them.

Surely the point of music - which I think you're loosely getting at - is that its an entirely personal thing, which we all love, and desperately thirst for - and while we don't mind discussing, and maybe even sharing every once in a while, its good to be selfishly in love - especially for the first time.
Posted 01/10/2006 - 08:03:41 PM by GavinM:
 You don't think if you find out why other people like music you'll find out more about why you like music? That seems weird to me.
Posted 01/10/2006 - 09:44:41 PM by hellotiger:
 is the embrace comment a joke? they are unequivocally one of the worst bands in existence. due to tragic circumstances, i was at the ally pally gig. it was horrific. danny, sadly, genuinely cannot sing very well at all. so, yeah, a joke? because i don't get it.
Posted 01/11/2006 - 04:00:43 AM by NickSouthall:
 GavinM - most people I get to talk about music to (I'm not talking online here, but face-to-face, generally) don't KNOW why they like music, so that plus point sadly becomes rather redundant. hellotiger - maybe it's cos I was drunk and with friends and went to have a good time rather than stand at the back and whinge, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, and by the looks of it so did several thousand others. I'm sad you didn't.
Posted 01/11/2006 - 06:17:22 AM by Skee-lo:
 I think it depends who you're talking to. I only ever really talk music with my Dad, twin-brother and one friend seriously. A lot of my other friends it comes it up in conversation but its not like a discussion. The problem is, when you're talking to someone who like the same type of music as much as you, it becomes a competition, like I know more about so-and-so than you do, or people trying to become elitist by saying they like the most uncommercial song on the album to sound like a more true fan. It's just annoying. Thankfully I don't have this, cos the only person with such a similar taste is my brother, whereby its almost too identical to argue.
Posted 01/11/2006 - 09:57:11 AM by itsabouttime:
 But PeteGuy, the list was compiled by reader votes rather than by the journalists so it's got precious little to do with tired journalism, unless you want to make the argument that Q readers are a bunch of sheep whose opinions are skewed by the editorial line. In which case I would have expected a bunch of Oasis albums to be at the top...
Posted 01/11/2006 - 10:04:24 AM by janinedm:
 "most people I get to talk about music to (I'm not talking online here, but face-to-face, generally) don't KNOW why they like music" Perhaps you're hoping for something almost impossibly direct yet abstract for most people. Even if someone is just talking about what they like, how they describe it is usually going to tell you a lot about what they think is important. The only people I know that can go straight in for the abstract why-I-like-music conversation are my music critic friend and his acquaintances and (in my opinion) they've got their own set of blinders to deal with. Unless you're saying, "I've become unable to hold music conversations with non-music critic types because they don't talk about it using the basic conversational assumptions that I've become used to and it's too tiring to make them talk in a way I want them to." I should add that I'm assuming that we're talking about basically smart people. I'm not suggesting one should talk about music with someone like the girl in my office who only uses the words "cool" and "great" to describe things.
Posted 01/11/2006 - 03:50:58 PM by J_R_K_:
 are you in a band? if you REALLY hated talking about music, you'd be in a band. try talking about music to your bandmates. it's one thing to be all "oh yeah, i have the b-sides collection that song is from". but it's another to be like "Ok, so the chorus comes back in after the bridge.." what i'm trying to say is the process of creating and discussing music in a band with a drummer (much louder setting) is infinetly more frustrating than trying to convince your friends that manic street preachers wrote the best lyrics ever.
Posted 01/11/2006 - 05:32:25 PM by cwperry:
 J_R_K: Amen. Try it with someone who can't count--that is a REALLY frustrating experience.
Posted 01/11/2006 - 07:11:23 PM by PeteGuy:
 'But PeteGuy, the list was compiled by reader votes rather than by the journalists so it's got precious little to do with tired journalism, unless you want to make the argument that Q readers are a bunch of sheep whose opinions are skewed by the editorial line. In which case I would have expected a bunch of Oasis albums to be at the top...'

Itsabouttime - Either this was sarcasm or you aren't aware Definitely Maybe was #5 and What's the Story? was #8. I'm opting for the former.
Posted 01/12/2006 - 08:27:00 AM by Hone_Heke:
 This week`s Soulsearching is deadly dull and so boh oh ring & here`s why. 1. I can hardly remember any of the specific detail of what it was about immediately after having read it. 2. I felt my life force slipping away while reading it. 3. It lacks any kind of linguistic beauty, that NS is often capable when reviewing music. 4. I love Ok Computer & it tops my all time fave list & someone rubbishing on about how he doesn`t care about it, either purely to be controversial, or to generate comments in the comments box as if the # of comments received were an indicator of success, or heaven forbid, because he genuinely doesn`t care for it that much, in monosyllabic terms, without justifying why he doesn`t like it, is dull & boring. 5. There`s a dead horse called Bloc Party he`s still flogging, & death is notoriously boring. 6. The bullet point system is used in lieu of analytical structure to examine what he wants to say, except he`s not exactly sure what that is. It`s lazy & therefore his laziness bores me. & I am using it too per quad erat demonstrandum. 7. Talking about music with a friend is difficult because you can`t both talk at the same time. But it can be done if you choose your words carefully and are forthrightly honest in being able to condemn your friend`s tastes giving specific examples of why, unlike the author of this Soulseeking in regard to Radiohead. But what is dull & boring is talking about talking about music. That`s the pits. 8. My number 7 was an unthought-out, & lazily conceived point that hardly made any sense, & is so full of holes that anyone could rip it to shreds by typing aimless dull words of monosyllabic character, much like many of the points of this Soulseeking article. 9. I`ve forgotten why I started writing this comment. See #1. 10. N.S has written some great reviews & by great I mean his use of language can often be playful & entertaining making me want to read each sentence twice & then the whole thing twice, unlike the effect this article had on me which was to switch on the TV and watch a Japanese gameshow. 11. One had the feeling that the silly bullet points could have gone on forever and forever and never come to any conclusion about anything as if the whole thing were some minute by minute reality e-zine and that his readers were such cretins that the would have still sucked up every word. Logging in every day, shit what`s Nick thinking right now?? 12. Blah, Look I only used 12 points to make my point. 13. OK Computer uses that subliminal voice on Paranoid Android to pick you up by the jockstraps and leave you hanging until the next big one comes along to get you off the hook. It hasn`t happened yet, although one album came close. Kid A.
Posted 01/12/2006 - 09:37:36 AM by callheraction:
 i also hate when someone uses the 'imagine (soandso) fronting (soandso)' comparison. drives me fucking batty. great article mr. southall. lets get together and talk sometime.
Posted 01/12/2006 - 10:40:18 AM by itsabouttime:
 PeteGuy: Of course there was no sarcasm. Maybe I just picked a bad example. Just substitute "In which case I would have expected Madonna to be the highest rating female artist at about number 33" in place of the last sentence (Oh this could go on forever...)
Posted 01/12/2006 - 11:49:27 AM by knockturn:
 hmmm. I'm assuming (don't know if that's allowed) that, due to you shopping in a British high street store, that you're British, Nick. so what happened? assholes? sure as hell? hell, it'd be...? right? right? you've change Nick.
Posted 01/12/2006 - 11:56:14 AM by NickSouthall:
 I can still spell colour!
Posted 01/12/2006 - 04:54:22 PM by :
 sounds like some people need better drummers
Posted 01/12/2006 - 07:29:53 PM by Brooon:
 "Dull" and "boring" arent the worst. Most albums I get sent to review go in one ear and out the other, if you have a word limit then "dull" is an understandable term, fine as long as it's couched in more descriptive context, IMO. The most asinine, useless word in a review is "perfect". There's a difference between music that you can understand is great on an intellectual level, and music that goes a step further and has a real emotional impact, and IMO what makes an emotional impact on a person is highly individual based on previous experience, including previous musical experience. I can hear the Beatles and Bob Dylan are brilliant - but I'd never list them as my favourites. OK Computer and What's Going On have had the biggest emotional impact on me - which obviously means lots of music critics (but not you NS) have shared some similar facet of personal development that OKC has tapped into. IMO of course. I hate talking to most people about music because if they know I'm a music crit, they're really defensive and careful about what they say in case I 'disapprove', which is not a comfortable position to be in for a casual conversation. I only enjoy chatting to other music-lovers who think about why they love music to a certain extent and aren't intimidated or deferral. Music writing can be lonely, frustrating sometimes, yes. But how else will you get paid for listening to and knowing about music? Everyone on this site listens to and knows a lot about music - but most have to do some menial non-musical dayjob to pay for it all. So quit yer whingeing!
Posted 01/13/2006 - 11:06:10 AM by janinedm:
 ...and I've had more time to think about it. The stuff I was talking about in my second post is really the basis of conversation. Holding a conversation with someone who does not have the same background, assumptions, or whatever, as you calls on the participants to respect the fact that different people are going to want different things out of the conversation (e.g. examine why they like music, praise the music that they like, talk about their feelings about some event, or examine the historical lead-up to an event). When someone is really different than you (i.e. not another late 20s British dude with the same educational and socio-economic background but listens to a different sub-genre(s), their way of conversing in general is going be different enough to call on you to be flexible.
Posted 01/13/2006 - 12:48:22 PM by J_R_K_:
 yeah, after 2 years of crappy drummers i finally found a great drummer. of course, it was the drummer i used to play with 8 years ago. anyway, he's great and i'm much happier with our ability to talk about music. but even he said that he hates talking about music with most bandmates because it's hard to follow concepts.
the point of my post was that yeah, talking about music with 'consumers' rather than 'hipsters' is more of a chore for elitists than not. but just because people haven't heard lightning bolt doesn't mean they won't be impressed when you say "they use 1,200 watts of amps". all you have to do is frame the conversation in the right way.
now back to talking about music with bandmates, of course it's easy to talk about how you want to sound like this band or that band, but it's hard to talk about structure and other things to make the song stand out when everyone is holding an instrument that makes a ton of noise. the drummer has to have a lot of physical restraint.
an easy metaphor is this... you are in the backseat of a car, and the driver is lost. but you know the area. every time the driver turns down the radio to complain they are lost, you start telling them the right turns to make. but as soon as you start talking, they turn the radio up and say "what? i can't hear yoU". that's what it's like talking about stuff in a band practice setting. nearly impossible without a delicate blend of attitudes.
Posted 01/13/2006 - 03:57:55 PM by BeingaBunny:
 This is a jolted post. It is sort of silly and pretentious that Nick dislikes talking about music even though he is a writer here on Stylus, which no doubt reaches a larger audience than any normal conversation ever could. Although I in no way mean that as an insult, as I do agree with a good sum of this article. The only music act I actually dislike is Xiu Xiu. I just can't stand that bastard, but any other act I disfavor I simply do not care about. Why should I care? Because all these people tell me to? Nah. Most people seem to have such an intensity for the music they dislike - probably because listening to music is so personal. For example, my friend and I were listening to the AoxomoxoA Outtakes of the Grateful Dead (12-13-1969 check, and the most beautiful version of the song "Rosemary" is on there (as well as some other gems). It is a mainly acoustic song with strange distorted vocals. My friend says to me, "Would you need to be alone to listen to this?" And I pretty much laughed yes. I'm not much of a Deadhead, but darn this session was far ahead of its time and emotional as heck. Personally, I don't even think about hype when I listen to music - because music is objective. I know that, and Nick probably knows it too. But I have to say, if Nick doesn't want people assuming that he is talking about Radiohead, then he should just come out and say the truth. For now, I will still assume Nick cared for Radiohead eight years ago. We can know the truth or we can know Radiohead. You are a journalist, and a good journalist presents the truth. I don't see why you bring it up if you refuse to talk about it. Now that is silly.
Posted 01/13/2006 - 04:10:27 PM by BeingaBunny:
 here is a music conversation between normal people: "dude, that song sucks; "this kicks ass!"
Posted 01/13/2006 - 04:12:39 PM by BeingaBunny:
 lol one more post for me. every time im about to listen to a new album, i assume it is terrible - because it probably is. so thats probably why hype doesn't affect me very much. i am the antihype.
Posted 01/14/2006 - 05:11:22 AM by NickSouthall:
 Personally, I don't even think about hype when I listen to music - because music is objective. I know that, and Nick probably knows it too. But I have to say, if Nick doesn't want people assuming that he is talking about Radiohead, then he should just come out and say the truth. For now, I will still assume Nick cared for Radiohead eight years ago. We can know the truth or we can know Radiohead. You are a journalist, and a good journalist presents the truth. I don't see why you bring it up if you refuse to talk about it. Now that is silly.

This makes no sense to me whatsoever.
Posted 01/14/2006 - 11:45:32 AM by :
 He doesn`t get it. Mr Jones doesn`t get it. I get it though. It`s one of those things that anyone who feels anything about the next big thing is possible. He would misunderstand without logic or language. Everyone here gets it. We ALL GET IT. So if you don`t get it then your thoughts are a little out of touch. BeingaBunny hits the nose on the nose. You win buddy. I love your comment.
Posted 01/15/2006 - 12:07:41 PM by BeingaBunny:
 Southall, you're a fucking idiot.
Posted 01/15/2006 - 12:09:11 PM by BeingaBunny:
 Go cry to your Radiohead, you little hobo.
Posted 01/15/2006 - 06:48:16 PM by :
 Damn, why do I have to police the comments box. It`s a dirty job but someone`s gotta do it. Bunny, you just got unfunny, try & be a little more sunny with your smarm. Southall is correct of course, that you made no sense whatsoever with that blither about Radiohead, but if he were much cleverer he would`ve replied "Beingabunny, try & sober up before you post on here. Radiohead from 8 years ago would have been the shit had I been talking around you but up inside your head have you not noticed? And so the band is unimportant,but your assumptive concern for me is touching."
Posted 01/18/2006 - 03:52:25 PM by janinedm:
 "Personally, I don't even think about hype when I listen to music - because music is objective. I know that, and Nick probably knows it too." I think this means that hype, etc. is subjective while music as a finished product is objective in the same way an apple can be called onjective. You may like or dislike granny smith apples; it doesn't change the apple. "But I have to say, if Nick doesn't want people assuming that he is talking about Radiohead, then he should just come out and say the truth. For now, I will still assume Nick cared for Radiohead eight years ago. We can know the truth or we can know Radiohead. You are a journalist, and a good journalist presents the truth. I don't see why you bring it up if you refuse to talk about it. Now that is silly." Now this is a bit harder. I think he's saying that if you don't want people to assume what band you're talking about, just tell them what the name of the band is that you are talking about (i.e. the truth). If you don't disclose what the truth of the matter is, you can't get mad if people make assumptions or decide to continue to assume it's whatever band they want it to be. I'm pretty sure. If I'm right, they're reasonable points.
Posted 01/27/2006 - 02:35:45 PM by NickSouthall:
 The first point I can agree with to the extent that a song is a song; whether it is a good song or not is not an objective fact unless one first defines stable and objective criteria of "goodness".

The second point... The whole point of this essay is to undermine assumptions. Rockism is assumptions, is following received wisdom, is credulity to meta-narratives. The meta-narrative of indie rock fans is that the only band worth caring about 8 years ago was Radiohead. The assumption, by erasing the possibility of it being any else, i.e.e by assuming, is commiting a fascist act, is projecting his will and taste onto everyone else. Two seconds of research through the archives here would reveal that it wasn't Radiohead, for instance, but the assumer doens't want to, because that would break down their pre-planned, pre-digested map of the cultural world.
Posted 02/09/2006 - 07:08:26 AM by deadtrax:
 this is by far the most navel-gazing, self obsessed and self regarding article about music i have ever had the misfortune to read.
Posted 02/21/2006 - 09:57:33 PM by ieatseeds:
 i love Nick's personal slant on the whole jawn. Don't be a menace, deadtrax.
Posted 02/21/2006 - 10:03:10 PM by ieatseeds:
 Also, I hate talking about music with people I don't know but with a few exceptions. If a person has some sort of crazy combination of favorite records in common with myself, I am intrigued, and I want to learn about that person. I don't really want to learn expressly about their musical tastes, I just want to know about that person ... as a person. Finding out how that person arrived at McClusky, whether or not it was before or after they got into the Fall or if it was just two weeks ago or whatever the situation is. And how did all that music-discovering fit into their life? Of course, I don't really want to ASK the person these questions, these are just things that are floating in my head, making me think I will get along with this person really well or perhaps not and basically the point is that the intial intrigue is just an amazing fact to behold because they liked some bands and I liked some bands and look now we are friends! Also, discovering records way after the hype has died down is fun. I listened to Bloc Party recently. It was nice. Nothing special. But fun for driving to the beach or whatever, definitely nothing to pee my pants about. And of course, if I said this to certain people they'd probably lop my head off with pruning shears. ALSO, Dear Nick I got to this article after reading your most recent article ("Rollercoasting part 1") And I added you on myspace. You only had 78 friends, I don't think you're going to reach your goal, I'm very sad to report.