Bands I Pretend To Like For The Credibility

I am a massive Coldplay fan. This isn’t meant to be read as a courageous declaration or a humble confession. It simply is a fact; a fact no more significant than other facts about me, such as that I enjoy eating plums and watching Chopped.

Upon hearing this news though, most people have one of three reactions:

A. “Do you know how you know you’re gay?”
B. “I liked the first two albums. After that, they started to suck.”
C. “Dude, I thought you had good taste in music!”

When it comes to options A and B, I don’t worry about all that. That joke is painfully old and so I can dismiss everything the comedian could say. A reasonable person could make statement B but I respectfully disagree. (I’d agree you that last two albums are collectively better than the first two. But that’s another discussion for another nerdy day.)

C, however, is brutal. I hate it. In almost every way, I revel in my rejection of conformity. I like what I like because I like it. That’s it. But I have spent too many hours reading about music, too much money on albums and concert tickets and too much time learning instruments to have my musical credibility instantly dismissed because of my love for Coldplay.

To defend myself from such sweeping musical rejection from the fraternity of “People with good taste in music,” I have been forced to adopt tactics to prove my musical worth. I’m not proud of this. I wish the world didn’t make me have to conform to their standards. But this is not a post-musical society. I am simply adapting. Therefore, these are bands that I pretend to like a lot more than I do in order to maintain some sort of musical credibility.

Arcade Fire

How to effectively name-drop a bands into conversation is a shameful but important act to perfect. The weight a band can add to your musical credentials depends on varying factors. Many disciplines understand the spread of an idea in a bell curve that is separated in four sections: early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards. Understanding a band’s popularity in this curve is essential for name-dropping. Doing so too early in their popularity makes you look like a Pitchfork-salivating elitist. Finding a band too late is like wearing Timberland boots at the club. Their time, sadly, has faded. Recognizing this difference is critical.

Here’s an example. There was a time when name-dropping a band like the xx would have been to your musical credit. They were British, minimalistic, and mesmerizing. But after a few Visa commercials and a shaky cover by Shakira, you knew they couldn’t help you anymore. Which isn’t to say their music is no longer great. It’s that too many people agree with you for the xx to be of any benefit in a music conversation.

That’s what makes Arcade Fire so brilliant. Despite a Grammy, band beefs, and other MTV-worthy fodder, their musical credibility has stayed unchanged. I keep the Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs on my iPod strictly to neutralize the shock some might have if their first impression of my musical tastes was Alanis Morissette. Don’t ask me if I’ve listened to it straight through. I haven’t. “Month of May” is a great song though.

John Legend

There is a perception of black people that we blindly follow other esteemed black individuals without the ability to critically assess their strengths and weaknesses. Now, this is one of those statements that might have some truth considering but is usually said with a level of condescension that ultimately renders the idea moot. What is true though is that no reasonable black person, or any person really, could dislike John Legend. He is the Derek Jeter of R&B. His swagger is worth emulating. His style top-tier. With John Legend, a name pun has never been more well-deserved.

But here’s the problem. If you asked me to name five songs by John Legend, I might repeat “Ordinary People” five times. Lost in my love for John Legend is actually taking time to know his discography. I love the idea of John Legend more than the man himself.

Now, obligatory love can have its benefits. I fake-loved Cory Booker for so long I actually started to in reality. What a guy.


Going to school in North Carolina introduced me to a whole new category of music fan. These hairy-chested thrift shoppers enjoyed playing used guitars, occasionally smoking pot, gladly sharing whatever beers they had on hand and filling out their schedule with classes in the sociology department. In a world of pink and popped collars, they were very nice change of pace. Their iPods were filled with old-school O.A.R., Dave Matthews, Phish. Maybe the Grateful Dead. But the most revered of these bands was Dispatch. Again and again, this band popped up in conversations. But I’d never heard of them.

Success in college depends entirely on one’s ability to compromise. Compromising with your roommate, compromising your morals, and most of all, your musical sensibilities. If Dispatch was the band North Carolinians by way of Massachusetts enjoyed, I was going to try it out. I went back to Queens and bought a double album by Dispatch called All Points Bulletin from Best Buy.

Was the album really worth $20? Despite some brilliant tracks, probably not. But when I got back, I could sing out “Go now. You are forgiven!” with as much passion as anyone else. Which made it worth it. Dispatch was an important band for me to know about in my assimilation into non-city life. As much as I appreciate their energy and “Two Coins,” their use to me is over.

Death Cab for Cutie

I have “a type.” Saying I have “a type” is either a sign of my youth or a sign of acute self-awareness. Whatever the reason, in a Nobel-worthy discovery, I have recently isolated the common gene that links every woman that I’ve been interested that amazingly were also interested in me. That strand is Benjamin Gibbard.

This discovery should give me a critical advantage in the dating game. This, therefore, has catapulted Death Cab for Cutie from fake love territory to becoming a valued addition to my musical life. Instead of playing an awkward game of 20 Questions upon meeting at coffee shop or in a clinical trial, I simply have to find a way to see a lovely woman’s iTunes. If there’s Death Cab, I know I have a shot. If there’s Death Cab and the Postal Service, I might as well buy a ring-pop afterward. Because we’re heading to the place where soul meets body.

There are two obvious problems with this plan. An iTunes library is a modern journal. More so than one’s sexual or romantic history, one’s musical history says a lot about a person. I might as well be ask to look through their purse. Plus, if a relationship doesn’t have a solid musical foundation, how can it survive? These are issues I’m still working on addressing. But behold, I will not let this discovery go to waste. TC mark


More From Thought Catalog

  • Mike of Doom

    You need to listen to more John Legend. And Lil’B for that matter.

  • lulu

    wtf is this? i was prepared to hear Sonic Youth and MBV and Dinosaur Jr. being called out…none of these bands are cool at all…

    • Kelsey

      …says the fraternity of “people with good taste in music.”

    • Anonymous

      I don’t know. Have you ever been to the south? Dispatch is pretty sacred.

      •!/ZachAmes macgyver51

        You speak the truth. The only reason I haven’t directly commented is because the the violence that would ensue would nullify my fandom. Can’t have that.

      • Guestropod

        I’m from the south and I’ve never heard anyone love on Dispatch

        I get in fights about Kings of Leon when I’m down home though – motherfuckers LOVE Kings of Leon

    • Leigh

      yeah no offense bro but if you are going to lie for credibility you need to lie better 

  • RicePaperPlant

    This is pathetic. 

  • mj1176

    So the XX isn’t cool anymore because too many people think they’re cool, but Deathcab is still somehow cool?! Don’t get me wrong, I dig Deathcab, but I don’t follow your logic. I hesitate to mention my love for Deathcab to anyone these days, because it’s like wearing a sticker that says “check me out, I just recently decided I like indie music”

    • mookie

      death cab has earned indie music tenure, since we’ve been listening to them since freshman year of high school. the xx quickly sold out before earning indie tenure.


  • Mookie

    Confirmed for shit taste in music. If Arcade Fire and John Legend are things you have to like in your friend group, your friends have shit taste in music too.

    I would have understood if your list included stuff like Nurse With Wound, Half Japanese, Lucrate Milk, or other more esoteric (but fucking cool) bands.

    Instead your list read like a playlist on a demo iPod in an Apple store.

    • Shosh

      You realize this is all completely subjective right

    • nahht

      you are the exact person this article is about. hows brooklyn, ya hipster dbag

    • mutterhals

      I for one love Shoe Gaze Cart Wheeler the Third. Or Neurotic Milk Thistle.

    • annie

      mookie’s rull proud of their vinyl collection and wants you to know about it. 

  • Luke Bourassa

    I really don’t see how most of this list would earn you credibility with any music snobs. And the majority of people who would agree that these bands are good, probably don’t care too much about “credibility.”

    If you want to lay down adequate cover, say you like The Stooges, or Joy Division, or David Bowie.

    Furthermore.. it’s never too early in a band’s popularity to say you like them.

  • A.J.

    I got into Arcade Fire late and I don’t care if I get judged for it. Who cares when I’m listening to good music?

  • Anonymous

    Dude, you have released a musical Cracken upon yourself with this article.  It’s like the one from the movies, but instead of innumerable fangs and tentacles it has wire-rimmed glasses and Meat is Murder on vinyl.

  • B

    Man, forget ALL of this. Dipset, UGK, Screwed Up Click and Assholes By Nature are all you need, and you won’t even have to pretend to like them.

    Oh and P.S.? You should ditch anyone who makes you feel small about your music taste.

  • Shosh

    Lol you’re seriously wasting way too much energy on this.
    As much as I hate that my friends will never let me DJ when we’re in the car b/c my music taste isn’t “fun enough” or “normal” and that douchey guys who are half as good at guitar as I am laugh at the stuff I listen to, it’s music and it’s the stuff I like.
    Who gives a fuck if someone else is narrow-minded enough to expect your standards to meet theirs? Just listen to what makes you happy, dammit.

    • annie

      eh i disagree. youve gotta be somewhat considerate to other peoples tastes when youre like riding in a car with your friends. otherwise you can’t really blame them for not wanting you to dj.

  • Dang

    Listen to Funeral by Arcade Fire, it’s real good, and will most likely get you most “cred”. I’ve liked them since like, 2007, so I’m like, way cool anyway.

    • B

      Psh 2007? LATE.

      …I’m half kidding

      • Guestropod

        yeah, they were already over by 2007

        …I’m half kidding

      • Carlos Jimenez

        They were over after the first EP. 

        … wholly kidding. 

  • Tanya Salyers

    I am definitely guilty of keeping music in my library just for looks when people browse through it.  

  • Frida

    i don’t have to pretend to like any bands
    the bands i like are cool enough on their own for me to care what anyone thinks

    • micaela

      wow, good for you.

      • Frida

        ikr, a BLESSING..

  • Elitist

    All of these suck though.

    I thought you had better taste in music.

  • Robert Wohner

    I tried to give readers their chance to unleash without interfering too quickly. TC gave me my chance to speak so I respect all of your chances to respond.  Now, a couple responses:

    1. Amazing comments. I laughed a lot. I’d emotionally prepared myself for the onslaught that followed. Many of you did not disappoint.   
    2. In some ways, we might be understanding musical credibility from a slightly narrow perspective. People make judgments about music outside of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. So while I agree there is one set of thought on what “good music” entails, I tried to think beyond that environment, pointing out four different scenarios I might myself. Either a. around indie types. b. around black people. c.  around southerners. d. around women I might be interested in. In a slightly facetious way,  I’m arguing each situation demands its own bands to utilize. Joy Division does me no good around fans of rap or R&B. Naturally, I won’t hum, “I will follow you into the dark” when I’m back in my neighborhood of South Jamaica, Queens or wandering through the Lower East Side. But maybe I will at a Barnes and Noble in the suburbs. Context is the biggest factor. 
    3. Someone’s musical identity really relates to their personal history. Dismissing one indirectly leads to dismissing the other. So it matters more than I wish it did. But it matters. 
    4. People can’t honestly claim, at whatever age, peer pressure doesn’t factor into their musical preferences. I refuse to believe people are 100 percent pure. I just tried to admit it. 
    5. Thanks for the music suggestions. I’m checking them out tonight.
    6. Viva!

    • Jessica

       “around black people”

  • João Nuno Álvares

    Arcade Fire is my favourite band, but I also enjoy Coldplay and I’ve seen them in concert last year, they’re probably  two of the most massive bands nowadays, taking the title to U2, even though they’re in the different sides of indie and mainstream. 
    I also like many other bands, in a lot of genres, I normally consider someone has a good taste in music when it has pretty much in common with mine, just that, I think there’s no problem at all about listening what we like.
    I’m from a democracy, after all.

  • Coloredarrows

    wow, in typical TC fashion this is a list post but it stands out for the writing; revealing, unique in tone yet still relatable. and i’ll bet you don’t sit there for hours deliberating over whether or not you have enough purple prose (unnecessary ‘SAT’ style words that serve no other purpose than  making you sound smarter than the reader, almost always looked up in a thesaurus by the writer) or whimsical expressions in there. i like your style, wohner. 

  • Carlos Jimenez

    thank you based god.

  • annie

    but wait tc…….. you guys are making fun of robert wohner bc these bands are lame. but he doesn’t like them…… lolwut

    • Frida

      maybe it’s because he likes coldplay, not that i’m judging, except yeah i am, can’t help it

  • E

    THESE bands add credibility? ….LOL

  • tc

    Add to your list: Radiohead.

  • rebecca

    I have never listened to any of these people except for maybe Coldplay once? I myself love all music Glee! makes *waits for it* and also I like a lot of pop. I feel so generic right now. 

    • guesttt

      I sincerely hope you’re Rebecca Black. Also, branch out! Pop is great but so is a lot of other music

  • Guest

    i spaced out the second i read, “I am a massive Coldplay fan.”

  • hamilton

    Even your  idealized taste in music sucks. You suck. You’re not cool. Now Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, he’s a wild man so bug off.

  • Lol

    wat is arcade fire?

    • ANG

       wat is orchid floor?

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