A Taxonomy of Music Snobs
Music snobs. We all know ’em; we all hate ’em. There are few things more annoying than talking about a band that you love, only to have a musical snob sneer and turn up their nose at your every word, until finally they can edge their way into the conversation to talk about how the music you love is significantly inferior to the music they love. Condescension is the name of the game, and musical snobs have spent years perfecting it. Join me, friends, as we analyze some of the most pervasive of music snobs and how to deal with them in the wild.
- The Classical Snob
The Classical Snob is a common breed of Old Person, but also comes in Undergrad University Student form (probably a nerd with long hair who secretly loves power metal and learned all Paganini‘s works on the piano). Typically dressed in nice clothes, the classical snob won’t listen to a word you have to say about music unless you’ve jerked it to a picture of Haydn and finished on a violin.
Classical snobs enjoy pretending to be British, going to recitals, and sitting down for long periods of time without moving a muscle. Typically they detest all forms of loud music, all music with saxophones, all music requiring some form of electronic amplification (excepting, of course, classical music that’s been recorded for AM radio) — in short, they detest all forms of music written by anyone who hasn’t jerked it to a picture of Haydn and finished on a violin.
Dealing with classical snobs in the wild is simple: pull out your saxophone and play “Giant Steps” at them as loudly as possible. This will enrage the Classical Snob, though they won’t show it; rather, they’ll wrinkle their snobby noses at you and ask you to “please keep it down; this is a library.” Ignore their condescending politeness. Heeding their request will only encourage them to look down on you.
- The Jazz Snob
The Jazz Snob is something of a new arrival onto the scene, appearing with the advent of Hipster culture. Usually Jazz Snobs are young 20-somethings, obsessed with vinyl, things older than they are, scarves, and pretending to be totally into stuff they secretly hate.
The Jazz Snob can be found at college, typically studying music or some other liberal art. They enjoy listening to both old and new jazz, and consistently refer to it as “heavy.” While more animated than Classical Snobs when listening to music, Jazz Snobs tend to remain mostly silent save for polite clapping after a 13-minute improvised saxophone solo. Unless the music you love has 10 seconds of written melody and 20 minutes of improvisation, it’s not worth their time. Heavy metal, of course, is vastly inferior to Jazz, since metal musicians, with all their practicing and trying to get better, will never equal the raw “heaviness” of improvised jazz music. Improvisation is the only thing that has mattered, does matter, or will matter. You write out your entire song? Filthy plebeian.
It’s not hard to get rid of a wild Jazz Snob: bombard them with classical music. The lack of improvisation will either cause them to shrivel up and die, or to go wild with rage and kill babies. Win-win.
PROTIP: Jazz Snobs and Classical Snobs are natural enemies. In the event you are acquainted with both kinds of snob, arrange for them to meet, or better yet, to play music together.
- The Black Metal Snob
A true connoisseur of all things bleak, the Black Metal Snob patrols the highways and byways of the internet looking for online fights with those who would dare profane the sacred name of [insert unreadable band logo here]. Black Metal Snobs come in two sizes: scrawny nerd and pudgy neckbeard. Armed with the emotional stability of a 12-year-old discovering breasts for the first time, Black Metal Snobs vehemently fight the good (evil?) fight, defending the artistic merits of poorly recorded demos.
Although Black Metal Snobs primarily spend their time trolling online forums and getting their rage on, they can also be found at local metal shows, not enjoying themselves (and, on rare occasions, in wooded glens recording demos; typically this happens in Norway). Their primary mode of existence is a combined mess of insecurity, misplaced anger, corpse paint, and SATAN. While they pose no real threat, their constant self-righteousness induces headaches even in the most patient of internet commenters. If you encounter one in real life, be wary of potential spike-related injury.
The Black Metal Snob is not to be engaged, if at all possible. Nothing you can say about how you were joking, or how you like some black metal too, or how we should all get along, will pacify their blind fury. You are nothing to them, you insignificant poser, and they will follow your every online move for days making sure you know that. The most effective way of dealing with Black Metal Snobs is to introduce them to another Black Metal Snob, at which point one of two things will occur: they will become fast friends and satisfy each other’s deep-rooted desire for affirmation, or they will attempt to outdo each other’s snobbery, culminating in both parties’ spontaneous combustion (probably orchestrated by Satan to finally give them the metal cred they deserve).
- The Indie Snob
Indie Snobs are a special breed of musical elitist. The Indie snob can be any one of the other Snobs listed, and yet exists in a plane above and beyond such worldly pursuits. Indie Snobs don’t actually enjoy music; they enjoy the thrill of cleverness that comes when you know about something before someone else does. They’ve made it their lives’ work. If you happen to discover an artist largely unknown, the Indie Snob will immediately enter the conversation, informing everyone they discovered this band years ago and their first unreleased demo (which the Indie Snob picked out of their garbage late at night) was significantly better than anything they’ve produced since.
As Indie Snobs are not bound by genre, they cannot be avoided. From orchestral to metal to Mongolian throat singing, Indie Snobs are the Indigenous People to your British Empire: they got there first. You will never be original, or first, or cool, or loved. All your discoveries will be overshadowed by Indie Snobs reminding you you’re not the first person to tread that ground. They may be lying, but how could you prove it? You can’t. And you have to live with that sour taste in your mouth.
The simplest way of dealing with an Indie Snob is to make up band names, casually mention them, and wait for the Indie Snob to swagger in, full of knowledge about a band that doesn’t exist. At this point you’ve got them in your crosshairs; pull the trigger when you like and watch them implode. Alternately, you could steal their delay pedal, the source of their Indie power.
- The “I Listen to Everything” Snob (this isn’t me, though)
The “I Listen to Everything” Snob (or ILTE Snobs) is a particularly infuriating musical elitist, and I’m totally not one. Often found on internet forums, ILTE Snobs actively seek out online arguments (often instigated by the snobs found above) and, ignoring everything that’s been discussed, proclaim their superiority over everyone else by posting a self-righteous comment about their own broad, varied music tastes, and how everyone else fighting should just relax (eg. “If you don’t like it, why’d you come here?” “We should all just listen to music we love and not fight about it” “I’m totally stroking myself as I type because I’m so laid back and cool with everything”). These Snobs will then often talk about the music they listen to, providing a detailed list of both obscure and very popular music, in a pathetic attempt to appeal to both sides of any argument and receive validation in the form of upvotes from other ILTE Snobs. I have never done this.
While ILTE Snobs probably do listen to everything they claim to, chances are they don’t really like it but need to legitimize their condescending comments. I, on the other hand, love everything I claim to listen to (including, but not limited to: Charli XCX, Jute Gyte, Charles Mingus, Chopin, etc.). Since their goal is upvotes, they aim for the lowest common denominator in any given discussion, ensuring all weak-minded commenters who were unsure of who to side with can find something to agree with. The result? Internet popularity. A poor substitute for real friends, but ILTE Snobs tend to be so noncommittal in real life none of their face-to-face interactions end in genuine like, or even genuine hate, but rather an uninterested complacency. I, on the other hand, have many real life friends.
Because ILTE Snobs are so spineless about taking a stand on anything, it’s near impossible to make them go away. Their only saving grace is that they tend to comment less than other snobs, and are easily ignored. Please don’t ignore me, though. I say that not because I require upvotes, but because I like them. Reacting to ILTE Snobs only encourages their pacifistic attitude – your best bet is to ignore them, or better yet, downvote their comments to the bottom of the argument. They won’t react, but at least they’ll be out of your way.
All musical snobs are irritating, but they can all be dealt with using the proper tools and techniques I’ve outlined here. Before you scroll into the comments section, I’d like to say that we have a very diverse crowd of commenters here, and I don’t mean to poke fun at any one person; rather I’m trying to poke fun at all of us. You see, I don’t have an agenda. I listen to all kinds of music, and if you don’t like what I’ve written, why bother commenting? I think we should just listen to what we love and not fight about it. I listen to lots of underground stuff as well as mainstream stuff, because I don’t limit myself. Not saying that you are limited, I’m just saying you could broaden your horizons.
I’m so hard right now. I can’t wait to jump into the arguments in the comments section, write something about us all getting along while stroking myself, and receive tons of upvotes.