You Like What!?

new_yorker_may8_1995My English Lit professor brother-in-law’s music tastes are typically very refined. To give you an idea, while he appreciates country artists like Emmylou Harris and Kasey Chambers, folky singer/songwriters such as Ani DiFranco, Jazz musicians like Miles Davis and so on, his biggest music passion is classical music, Mahler in particular. In fact, classical music is an integral part of his life. He grew up with it, his father sent my nephew about 50 classical music CDs to get his classical library started when he was only five-years-old and that same poor nephew is required to alternate between his preferred music and classical music every other night as he falls asleep.

Sometime, over the holidays, we were talking about how I write for a country music blog. The conversation led to him saying, “Oh, I just read a review in the New Yorker about a teen country artist who is supposed to be a brilliant songwriter.” I was like, “really? Who?” After he couldn’t retrieve the name, I kind of jokingly asked, “Taylor Swift?”, You can imagine my surprise when he enthusiastically answered, “Yeah, that’s her name!” I asked, “Did they at least mention that she can’t sing very well”, which was answered with a “No, I don’t think so. I think they said she had a good voice too.”

I happened to have an external hard drive full of all of my digital music with me, which includes Swift’s two albums (Don’t ask!). So, after trying to convince him that while Taylor is good at what she does, she’s neither a good singer nor a brilliant songwriter to no avail, I gave in and burned him a CD of her music. We listened to it a little that night and ribbed him for allowing the New Yorker (his favorite magazine) to influence him so much.

Now, at this point, I don’t know if he actually truly agrees that Taylor Swift is a gifted singer and brilliant songwriter, but my sister did inform me that he took the CD with him on their trip to visit his mom in Massachusetts the next day.

Alrighty then! If The New Yorker says so…

So, the point of this pointlessly long anecdote is this:

Historically, it’s uncharacteristic of both The New Yorker and my brother-in-law to praise an artist like Taylor Swift.

What artist or song do you find that you enjoy despite the fact that it’s outside of your typical music taste?


  1. Charlotte Church — while I admit to like some pop music, such as Christina Aguliera and Kelly Clarkson, and older rock such as Meatloaf and Bonnie Tyler and even late 80’s/early 90’s pop and some of my hubby’s hair metal – Charlotte Church is way outside of anything I would ever listen to, but she has the voice of an angel and something about her singing soothes me and I actually admit to owning two of her albums –

  2. Awesome discussion …

    I don’t really have that much of a musical umbrella myself. Most everything I really love falls in the country/country-pop/pop category. My favorites are Reba, Sugarland, Trisha Yearwood, etc. But I also dig Matchbox 20, Kelly Clarkson, Pat Benatar, and I do play my Monster Ballads CD a lot. But, I am going to embarrass myself a bit and say Cher. She’s the only non-country artist I would count among my favorites. And while I don’t care for the dance music route she’s taken lately, ‘Heart of Stone’ is one of my all-time favorite albums and her stuff from the 70s, 80s, and 90s is top rate.

  3. Radiohead comes to mind immediately. I bought In Rainbows, and fell in love with it, even though their music can be really strange sometimes. Mariah Carey is a strong runner-up though. I just love “We Belong Together” and “Heartbreaker” so much!

  4. Well I like Taylor Swift, so that’s kind of a big one. I mean, apparently I don’t like her as much as Leeann (I don’t have her records), but she is my favorite radio artist

    I’m not into hip-hop generally, but I like Eminem and Immortal Technique a lot, Atmosphere too.

    back on the semi-shameful country track, I tend to enjoy Keith Anderson’s radio singles for what the they are.

    Oh yeah, and I love B.J. Thomas.

  5. Most of the songs and artists that would be an honest answer to this question are NSFW, so I’ll just go with Roxette, an act that I have a surprisingly large amount of music from.


  6. Pavoratti.

    While I was working as a Business English/Writing Teacher at Capital University in China I got the chance to see him perform before he passed away. I was offered the chance to buy another friends tickets and I must say that I’m glad I did because despite being a shadow of what he used to be, at least I can say I saw one of the greatest vocalists of all time (in any genre) and got to see him in a pre-Olympics Beijing arena too (which looked and felt like a small college arena at the time, now it’s a big-ole new school place according to friends still there).

    While working as an English Teacher in Seoul Korea, I took a chance on some Korean pop music. Bubble gum as hell but it is kind of fun to listen to once in a while.

    Bet none of y’all expected these responses!

  7. So with me, the main thing I listen to is country that includes the traditional stuff to modern stuff to a bit of bluegrass stuff, so I rarely go outside the country genre. I do like some pop, mainly Kelly Clarkson and Jordin Sparks (I attribute that to my obsession of American Idol), but lately I’ve been gettin into stuff like Jason Mraz and Gaven DeGraw. I now own all of their cds and I love them! I’ve also dabbled a bit in R&B with Alicia Keys’ latest album, As I Am, it’s great!! That’s probably the most outside of the box that I get when it comes to music! haha

  8. There’s probably a better one that I’m blanking on, but here’s what’s coming to mind right now: I’m not big on the whole ’80s Urban Cowboy thing, but I do like Earl Thomas Conley.

  9. I hate rap but there are some songs that are catchy, like LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” (I have no idea what the correct title is). Or “California Love” by Tupac and someone else (have no idea whom). Eminem has a great sound to his voice too.

    There are some R&B songs that I like too.

  10. OK, I love Classical music almost as much as Country! Mozart and Beethoven are the pinnacle of human achievment in the field of music, bar none, IMO… But I still enjoy listening to Country and Bluegrass the most.. I find it far more accessible, and suitable for most any mood or occasion. With Classical I have to be in the mood. Actually, I see some similarities with Classical and Bluegrass…the instrumental virtuosity especially….String band music, string quartets etc…

    On a side note, I think it’s interesting that Patty Loveless (yes, I can work her name into ANY conversation,lol ) and husband Emory named their two dogs after great composers, Shosta (for Dimitri Shostakovich), and Bach..I just think that’s really cool. And they named their cat “Blue Moon” (of Kentucky, I believe). I think with Patty and Emory there is a lot of cross pollination going on with all the different genres they appreciate…And I think this diversity of influence may have something to do with their genius, if perhaps indirectly..

    OK, back on track…What really surprised me was the way I took a liking to Reggae music. Bob Marley, (not the modern stuff so much.) Maybe my Honeymoon in Jamaica had something to do with that!

    Lanibug…Charlotte Church is AMAZING! Talk about a prodigy..

    Matt B.. I’m glad you got a chance to see Pavarotti…Never had the pleasure of witnessing this timeless, international legend in person….. but Korean bubble gum music???!!!

    And dang, Taylor Swift sure does take a beating! …Not my favorite by any stretch… And she has the voice of a songwriter, (not a singer), that’s for sure…But I think she is authentically who she is, a creative troubadour of teenage experience. And unfortunately, teenagers drive the market today, to the detriment of the genre as a whole. And for the record, I would never buy a TS album, nor would I tell you if I did!

  11. Along with most country, I also really like Jason Mraz, David Archuleta, and Colbie Caillat. II won’t say that it’s my guilty pleasure, because I don’t feel guilty.

  12. Yeah, we don’t have to feel guilty about our admissions. I’m only asking what’s out of character for us to like. Then again Aaron and Rainbow, a little shame for *loving* Hough is warranted I think.:)

  13. I don’t care much for classical music, but I’ve always been nuts about Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King.”

    I was very resentful about that New Yorker piece. The writer obviously had total access, hung out in Taylor’s dressing room, then didn’t use one direct quote from her. Just described her, went on and on about her for a page and stopped. Pompous junk.

  14. Chris,

    When isn’t The New Yorker not pompus? Particularly when dealing with ‘country music’?

    Ok, here’s another ‘guilty pleausre music wise:’ UK boyband or pop music like Westlife…oh the shame….

  15. Ok…so “loving” Julianne isn’t quite the norm around here, but I like her! Granted, she’s not the best singer, but I think she has a good voice. I just wish she would pick better songs to sing. And, since I’m a guy, I think she’s GORGEOUS!!! Chuck Wicks is a lucky lucky guy!!

    Oh and thanks for those recommendations Matt, I’ll definitely check into those artists!

  16. Why is there so much Taylor-hating?

    I LOVE TAYLOR! Her songwriting is much better than her vocal ability, I’ll give you that much, but she is a fantastic writer.

    Julianne Hough is good too!

    There are some out of genre musicians I like that are surprising…But 24/25 of my top played songs are classified as country.

  17. Carson, I did not intend to bash Taylor with this post, though I can see how it can be perceived that way. She’s just definitely not somebody that my brother-in-law would typically find artistically appealing, which was the point of this discussion. Until her Fearless album, I tried to defend her quite a bit. I still think she’s talented and enjoy some of the stuff from her first album, but I know this newer stuff is definitely not for me.

  18. Leeann, thanks for explaining! That makes sense, andI guess I should have thought of that because of the discussion’s title. I agree, I definitely like the direction her first album was in better than the second album. The second CD is a great CD, but I think the producers put too much pop in it, and sort of lost the contemporary country magic in some of her previous songs. And that’s about as honest as you’ll hear from a Taylor fan, they sort of have a habit of sacrificing any one who does not write, “I hate Joe Jonas for dumping Taylor Swift” with a million explanation points.

    I guess defending someone who I am a huge fan of is just natural.

    But adding on, I am actually enjoying a bit of Jewel’s early songs. It’s the songwriting, I think, and the bit of folk pop that was in her “Goodbye Alice in Wonderland” CD. And the “Gives You Hell” by All-American Rejects song is just so catchy.

  19. My musical taste pretty much encompasses all genres, so this is a tough one for me. Yesterday I downloaded songs from the Pogues, Killers, Kelly Willis, The Who, Santogold and Bleu Edmondson. Totally random. My Eminem collection (oh, I have them all) is perfectly content next to my glam rock collection, which is perfectly content next to my punk collection and my classical collection (college music courses – anyone else have Professor Rose at Vandy?).

    However, I truly hated the boy band era (perhaps my issue with RF?)…except for a few Backstreet Boys songs, which I love…so I’ll go with them. (Leeann – how do they keep coming up on this blog?! lol)

  20. Oh, Lynn’s mention of the Pogues reminded me of a band that is REALLY outside my typical taste..the Boston-Irish Punk band Dropkick Murphys….They were all the rage when the Sox finally won the World Series again, and Jonathan Paplebon did a jig to their music during the victory parade..kilt and all! Any resident of Red Sox Nation couldn’t help but get caught up in it all, and become an instant fan….

    They first got my attention though, when their song “Shippin’ up to Boston” was featured in the Jack Nicholson movie.”The Departed”.

  21. Okay, there were a few Backstreet Boy songs that I liked back in the day too, but I can honestly say I can’t stand that stuff now. As for Eminem though…yeah…maybe…

  22. Not my typical style of music, but I love me some KLF!!! Their inclusion of Tammy Wynette in their “Justified and Ancient” song was enough to cement my infatuation with their musical repetoire.


  23. Lynn D,

    My mp3 folder is the same way. Eminem, Metallica, Reba, Yanni (there’s a shame for this thread), house music, trance, 80’s (oh yeah!), sarah mclachlan.. ella fitzgerald, led zep, bb king, enya, eric clapton… a full (50 disc?) Vangelis discography (my wife’s, I swear)…

    if you can name it, I either have it or something from that genre ;)

  24. A little more than a year ago, I basically strictly listened to country music. So shocked myself to find that I really loved Green Day’s American Idiot CD, which was certainly a long shot from the country I was used to.

    Now although I rarely listen to Green Day anymore, I can’t deny the huge impact they had on my musical umbrella. I no longer care too much for country CDs, I typically just prefer to listen to country radio. I still can’t listen to pop or rock stations and honestly say I like much of what comes on. But any artists that I do come to like, I fall in love with, and they become my album artists. Such examples include Hedley, the Jonas Brothers, and McFly, all of which are pop rock bands that I would consider guilty pleasures if I didn’t like them so much.

    So lately, I suppose the most recent artist to stretch my musical boundaries a little is David Archuleta, who is a little more pop than I am used to buying. Also, although I don’t have her CD, Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” and “Hot & Cold” are insanely catchy and fun.

  25. Probably some people here will do a double-take (or even a triple-take) at this one, but even though he is well outside my generation’s tastes, one of my favorites is Tom Jones.

    And I’m not talking about the Welshman in terms of his image or his over-the-top Vegas stage shows (which even put Elvis’ latter ones to the test). I’m talking about his vocal capacity and his choice of song material, particularly during the period from 1966 to 1971; “Green Green Grass Of Home”; “Detroit City”; “Without Love (There Is Nothing)”; “I (Who Have Nothing)”, and “Daughter Of Darkness”, in particular, are among my favorites of his. And yes, all but the last one are covers of country and R&B classics, but he does them so well (in my humble opinion). There’s also his 1969 hit “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” (co-written by U.K. skiffle king Lonnie Donegan) that crosses the lines between R&B and country in a way not too dissimilar to what Ray Charles did back in ’62.

    So, if Tom Jones is a guilty pleasure, then yes, I plead guilty (without shame).

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