Alternative to What? Independent of Whom?

The idea of genre in music — especially pop music — is pretty much meaningless these days (assuming it ever had meaning). For some time now the order of the day has been to blur, erase, and ignore boundaries between types of music that previously had been somewhat compartmentalized. Hence, Kanye West can team with Daft Punk, Johnny Cash covers Nine Inch Nails, and Beck simply exists.

I’ve been sifting through my mp3 collection lately (more on that later) and have been vastly entertained by what’s in the “genre” fields of them. This is a field I’ve never touched, so Someone Else described all these.

First, here are all the genres represented in my collection:

70’s experimental other
80’s folk (rock) piano
acoustic freakbeat pop
alternative (pop/rock) freak-folk pop underground
alternrock free rock pop vocal
ambient funk porn groove
americana fusion postpunk
anime game post-rock
anthem garage revival powerpop
art rock garage rock progressive (rock)
avantgarde geek rock progressive metal
beat general folk psychedelic (rock)
beck-like general pop/rock psychobilly
bluegrass general world pub rock
blues genre punk (pop/rock)
booty bass gothic (rock) r&b
breakbeat grunge rap
britpop hard rock reggae
cartoon hip-hop retro
celtic holiday rock
chamber fusion horror rock rockabilly
chamber music house shoegaze
children’s music humour showtunes
chorus indie (pop/rock) singer/songwriter
christian gangsta rap indie electronic ska
christmas indie folk slash records
classic pop/rock industrial slow jam
classical industrial dance sort
club instrumental (rock) soul
comedy jazz soundtrack
country (rock) j-pop space age pop
covers kbd punk surf instumental
crossover kraut rock swing
dance library music synthpop
darkwave lizard music techno
default lo-fi techno punk rock
dictionaraoke lounge this van’s a rockin’
disco mashup tin works catalog
drill´n´bass misc trip-hop
dsp; electronica modern classical twee
easy listening mutant disco unclassifiable
electronic (pop/rock) mv1 unknown
electronic j-pop neo-psychedelia v2 records
electronica new age vocal jazz
electropop new wave weird punk
eli’s recordings noise (rock) witch candy pop
emo oldies world

Some of them are obviously joke categories (“this van’s a rockin'”), and some are obviously in certain categories as jokes (Beck as “Christian Gangsta Rap”).

Here’s an example of some bands that are “Punk”: Apples in Stereo, Arcade Fire, Bloc Party, Decemberists, Happy Mondays, INXS, John Vanderslice, Lightning Seeds, Radiohead, Robbie Williams, The The, They Might Be Giants, Underworld.

(Nirvana’s in there as “Grunge”, even though I was once told in a Napster chat room that they invented punk rock. When this individual was given concrete evidence that this was not the case, he corrected himself by saying that punk rock was relatively unknown until they came along. Kids!)

Evan and Jaron, who are about as commercial pop as you can get, are marked “Slow Jam”. Big Audio Dynamite and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark are “Retro”, which I guess might be true these days. The “Porn Groove” category belongs to Scissor Sisters (sure) and Goldenboy (no). Corey Hart and the Cutting Crew were part of a New Wave of…something. Trent Reznor’s vocals have apparently been removed from the “Instrumental Rock” album Pretty Hate Machine by Nine Inch Nails. Jonathan Coulton’s “Mandelbrot Set”, a tribute to fractal mathematics. Geek rock? Nope, “Folk”. I’ve got four songs tagged “Celtic”:

The Alarm – Sixty-Eight Guns
Bow Wow Wow – I Want Candy
Peter Godwin – Images of Heaven
Plastic Bertrand – Ca Plan Pour Moi

all of which came out in 1996, according to the “Year” field. However, it’s been suspected that these songs were sabotaged by nefarious persons with a dark agenda.

As you can imagine, the bulk of my music is tagged with the labels that are the vaguest: Rock, Alternative, Pop, and Other. Also: Unknown. In addition, three tracks I own are not just unclassified, they’re apparently unclassifiable!

On the other hand, every single track tagged “Beck-like” is by Beck. I can’t argue with that, I suppose.

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3 Responses to Alternative to What? Independent of Whom?

  1. Jeff says:

    I recently noticed a Brenda Kahn album I have is classified as Country. Your comment from Nirvana punkboy reminds me of a comment I heard from that asshole Joe Rogan — I think it was on MTV. Anyway, he claimed he didn’t like U2 because “all their songs sound the same.” Yes, “Vertigo” and “Out of Control” are virtually indistinguishable…

  2. Andrew Weiss says:

    Yes, you discovered my nefarious plot to avoid changing the default settings on Audiograbber. Curses!

    Picking tags for music I use in posts can be a hassle. “Indie Pop” and “Alt Rock” are a boon to the lazy blogger.

  3. Dave says:

    You may have also noticed that I own no “metal”, heavy or otherwise. This will come as something of a surprise to Black Sabbath, Dio, AC/DC, Judas Priest, and a lot of the bands featured in the Guitar Hero games, for whom I do have mp3s.