Have you ever had a friend that likes a band so much he or she seems to always be talking about them, always watching their videos, always claiming they’re the greatest thing to happen to music or something along those lines? So much so that you start to hate the band regardless of what their music sounds like, just because your friend likes them so much?
Cults was that band for me. My roommate is obsessed with the much buzzed about NYC group, and he seems to always be either blasting their music or giving me some update on their tour schedule or album news.
Naturally, this made me despise the band. When someone has such a strong connection to the group like that (and repeatedly shoves it in your face), it’s sort of hard to have your own connection with the group. They feel like THEIR band, not yours. Cults feels like my roommates band. And although he’s one of the greatest most popular singer/songwriters in the world, Bob Dylan feels like my good friend Adam’s artist. That may sound crazy, but Adam talks about Dylan so highly and so often that it’s hard for me to relate on the same level when I listen to his music. My friends found those bands and fell in love with them first, so my own relationship with the bands doesn’t feel as natural or honest. In fact, I feel an inexplicable yet natural urge to dislike those groups (probably because I’m jealous I didn’t discover them first and know that I can never claim to be as big of a fan).
Of course this phenomenon isn’t true of every instance or for all people, but people do tend to feel a sense of kinship with the artists that they discover and connect with/relate to before any of their friends. As much as many people like to criticize those that get upset when their favorite bands become famous, the “I heard them first” mentality and smug sense of superiority is usually present at at least some level when discussing music.
A few weeks ago I made the mistake of telling my Cults superfan friend that I liked the band’s latest single, “You Know What I Mean” (because I did). After uttering that sentence, I had to endure my friend blasting the few songs the band has released at full volume and on repeat throughout the remainder of the day.
As much as I hate to admit it, I enjoyed those songs. I tried to dislike them simply because it’s annoying to hear my friend blabber on about how great they are (and entertaining to make fun of them when I know how much he likes them), but he’s right. Cults is a good, exciting young band.
This post was prompted by my friend’s retweet of Cults’s twitter post that said their debut album will be streaming online tomorrow. I’m looking forward to hearing it, and I hope some people reading this will check it out, too.
Still, as much as I hate to admit this, it’s sad to know that the band will always “belong” to my friend, as if music is a “first come, first serve” form of intellectual property within friend groups.
The best way to deal with this sense of superiority that accompanies the discovery of bands is to recognize the ridiculous politics behind it all (no matter how subtle, it’s probably there) and reject it. It sounds cheesy, but most music is meant to be shared and enjoyed by every one. Even though it can seem as if some songs belong to specific people or groups of people, most bands likely had broader intentions during the recording process.