Nerds have bad taste

One thing I’ve noticed about many (or even most) of my podcast friends is that they have questionable taste in music. This should not be much of a surprise, since they also demonstrate questionable taste elsewhere. For example, many of them like comic books; others like Star Wars; others play Dungeons and Dragons. Needless to say, when my podcast friends have discussions about any of these topics, I generally delete them without listening. Life is definitely too short. I’m not even going to pretend that I think any of those things are okay.

Nevertheless, I keep subscribing to the podcasts, because most of the time, I value what they discuss, whether it be the Hugo/Nebula award nominees, or an old movie, or an old, terrible movie, or a good TV show.

So I say questionable rather than terrible. But it does often strike me, whenever they stray into discussing music, that they really like some terrible stuff. On the other hand, most of them acknowledge the greatness of The Beatles, so they’re not dicks, they’re just misguided in other ways.

I’ve recently been glassy-eyed with boredom during a long discussion of the work of the Canadian rock band Rush.

Now, I’m sure I must have heard Rush at some point. But this is a band so objectively bad that I don’t even need to have heard them to know it. First of all, what even is a trio? A trio is a group of musicians so awful that they can’t even persuade a fourth member to join them. Emerson Lake and Palmer? If you think I’m being unkind or unfair or even, god forbid, ignorant, just read this snippet of the Wikipedia entry for Rush:

Rush is known for its musicianship, complex compositions, and eclectic lyrical motifs drawing heavily on science fiction, fantasy, and philosophy.”

Rush, in other words, are the Canadian Hawkwind. If that doesn’t convince you, you only need to see this selection of sub-headings under History:

  • 1.1 1968–1974: Early blues- and hard rock-oriented years
  • 1.2 1974–1976: Neil Peart joins, foray into progressive rock
  • 1.3 1977–1981: Peak progressive era
  • 1.4 1982–1989: Synthesizer-oriented era
  • 1.5 1989–2002: Return to guitar-oriented sound, hiatus”

To which the only rational response is, oh for fucksake.

By way of contrast, top level sub-headings for The Beatles are:

  • 1.1 Formation, Hamburg, and UK popularity
  • 1.2 Beatlemania and touring years
  • 1.3 Studio years
  • 1.4 After the break-up

Anyway, a giant raspberry to Rush.

But that’s not even the worst.

A couple of episodes ago, two of my podcast friends had an interminable discussion about the oeuvre of Billy Joel.

Billy. Joel.

Listening to two nerds talking about Billy Joel is like a live broadcast of the mind of Patrick Bateman* as he thinks about Phil Collins.

I mean, you can see how nerdy techy types, as a lot of podcast friends are, would think that a band singing about “science fiction, fantasy, and philosophy” is somehow acceptable. Hence Rush. But for anybody to spend even five minutes considering whether or not to listen to some Billy Joel, let alone adding “Billy Joel’s entire catalogue to my collection,” as one of them did, is the definition of insanity. The banality of psychopathy. I’m still traumatised from that time Whistle Test gave itself over to Billy Joel for an entire episode in 1978. I’ve spent 42 years trying to forget.

*Bateman is the titular American Psycho.

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