Now... That's What I Call Hot Takes
By Nam Woon Kim (he/him)
Hot takes are a tricky business because one person’s hot take is another person’s room temperature one. That’s why I tried to attack everyone, but whether I succeeded is up to you.
If you hate pop music you're probably miserable.
When I say "hate" I don’t mean you happen to not like pop music and tend to avoid whatever’s on the billboard at the moment. That’s just a preference. I’m not the biggest fan of most pop music myself even if some of my favourite music falls under this nebulous umbrella that stretches from Rina Sawayama to Animal Collective. Hate, here, means going out of your way to shit on anything that wouldn’t be out of place on a radio. Maybe you think disliking Six60 is worth mentioning on your Tinder bio, maybe anything that becomes a trending sound on TikTok suddenly becomes unlistenable. I could go on. And while music elitism isn’t restricted to hating pop, it’s particularly jarring to see people who say they love music spend energy letting fun, upbeat music bother them. There are legitimate criticisms to have of pop music, especially as an industry, but exploitation probably isn’t at the top of your list of grievances is it?
The irony is that if you love pop you have a tendency to run into the blues - that’s why we need it. As much as I’d love to listen to nothing but American Football and the Microphones this winter, I’m gonna have the new Snoh Aalegra on repeat and I suggest you should too!
My Kanye album ranking is better than yours.
So is my Radiohead one. No, you don’t get to see them.
Good taste in music is real...but it's not what you think it is.
Or, good taste in music isn’t real... but also is? Bear with me. Having good taste can mean a lot of things. It’s anything from liking the ‘right’ things considered classics to just liking music that’s obscure. I welcome the wave of pushback against these rigid definitions because they don’t touch on the true joy of enjoying music that goes beyond just listening to an album because it’s well-reviewed.
Good taste, to me, reflects not just the music itself but the journey it took to find said music. In other words, it’s a matter of spending time to expose yourself to more music and eventually creating your own taste. This is why we often tell someone they have good taste if they like something that’s less popular - the effort they put in is implicit but it’s not the same thing. Anyone can have good taste in music, it just takes a bit of branching out. This is why I don’t want to dismiss the notion of good taste entirely. I’d be lying if I sat here and told you good taste in music isn’t real. It may be subjective, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
Trying not to overplay a song is for cowards.
I used to try to avoid listening to a song I love too much out of fear that I might get sick of it. Now, I know if a song is genuinely good it can’t ever be ‘overplayed.’ Life’s too short to hold yourself back from hitting that magic ‘repeat 1’ button. This is a sign: go spend an entire day listening to just one song. I can tell you from experience that you unlock new levels after your tenth consecutive listen a day. If you’re the main character (which maybe you aren’t, read all about it on page 32), start acting like it and pick a theme song that plays whenever you do something.
Tiktok can ruin songs.
I hopped on Tiktok earlier this year as any responsible social media manager should do to keep their ear to the street. Fast forward a few months and I’m on the app every day. Before I used the app I noticed that almost every YouTube comment section would feature people counting their blessings because TikTok hadn’t “ruined this song yet”. I used to think this was stupid, how can a song be ruined just because it gets traction on an app?
I hate to say it, but I understand now. Hearing a song you like play over and over again as you scroll through your fyp gradually becomes grating when it’s become part of a meme that’s literally the same joke in the same stupid skit, see: Dead Man Walking by Brent Faiyaz earlier this year.
That said, because I do believe TikTok is good for the culture of music, I want to end on the note that it’s great for discovering new music. I found an obscure Frou Frou track that’s never been officially released which I probably never would have found otherwise. (The song’s A New Kind of Love, by the way, and it slaps. Imogen Heap should’ve gotten her flowers years ago!!).