From the Washington Post’s Dear Amy section:
I recently started seeing a guy who is a part-time musician. We really connected. I’m totally swooning over him, and I’m not someone who regularly swoons. The problem is that I’m not crazy about his music. It’s not bad; it’s just not very original.
I was a music major in college, and I’ve done freelance music reviews, so I’ve got sort of a built-in music snobbery that has very little to do with taste and more to do with being able to analyze song structure, harmonic structure and melody more than most people who haven’t studied music.
On the whole, his songs are pleasant, but it’s hard to silence that music-critic voice in my head that says: “Okay, you’ve played those two chords enough now. How about trying something different?” Of course I haven’t given him anything but positive feedback, and everything else is going so well.
Should I just silence my inner critic and not worry about it, or is this a red flag that it’s a bad match?
- Hearing Mediocre Music
I want you to do something for me. Extend your right hand in front of you. Now reach your right hand around your back and place it on your bottom. Slide said right hand down the back of your pants and take a firm grasp of the waistband of your underpants. Pull up as hard as you possibly can….Feel that? That was from me.
Music snobs are the worst. There are a few different kinds of music snobs, all equally irritating. The first (which Mediocre, you are not) is a Hip Music Snob. Every time you see the HMS, he’s on his way to some random show. Whatever you do, don’t ask what band is playing. That’s what he wants. Don’t let him win. Because if you do ask what band is playing, the following conversation has to happen:
You: So what are you doing later tonight?
HMS: Oh, going to see a show.
You: Cool. Who’s playing?
HMS: Blip, Blip, Bleep is opening for Pants Yell! which is cool because I missed them when they played with Bearsuit last month.
You: Oh. Never heard of them.
HMS: -pause, during with the air is filled with a tense vibe of smugness and self-satisfaction- …Oh, really?
And by “Oh, really?” they mean, “I KNOW SOMETHING YOU DON’T KNOW! NANY NANY BOO BOO!”
The second music snob is The Singer. The Singer sings along to the radio like they’re auditioning for American Idol, they’re that guy who harmonizes with everyone when singing “Happy Birthday” and always points out if you’re humming is off key. All right Singer, you were Maria in your High School production of West Side Story, but take it down a notch. Whatever you do, don’t go to a karaoke bar with The Singer, and never ever sing a duet with one. You haven’t felt real shame until you’ve been the untalented half of a duo singing a Grease medley at 2am to a packed bar.
Finally we come to your kind, Mediocre. You are a Critic. And by calling you a Critc, I don’t mean to validate your so-called music critic “career.” Writing a review of The Jonas Brother’s concert for your local Gazette does not an expert make. I’m also frustrated that you structured your letter like a review of your boyfriend’s music abilities, which was published in the Washington Post, and thereby you can technically say you’re a Washington Post published music critic. Unless that wasn’t your plan and I just gave you a great idea because I’m too tired to delete the sentence I just wrote. If that is the case, then well played Critic.
Critics are annoying by nature as they’re generally both a Hip Music Snob and a Singer, and that’s a lethal combination. Not only do they point out when your half-step key change is slightly off, they write letters like to newspaper advice columns reiterating how educated and important their musical opinions are and kvetch about what a cross it is to bear to be so musically enlightened. So to answer your question, yes, this is a red flag. A giant red flag that you don’t deserve such a swoon-worthy dreamboat if you’re considering ditching him over his Incubus cover band.
What’s worse is I’ve been trying (and failing) to think of a “decrescendo” joke for five minutes now, and I know you totally have a dozen up your sleeve.