You’re not cool for hating pop music

As a quiet and insecure 14 year old, music felt like a way for me to define myself. I wasn’t sporty or outgoing, but I did know about music. I thought because I could read music, I had a better understanding about what was good music. I had this idea in my head that only people who truly loved music listened to obscure artists, because we went out of our way to find music we liked. I prided myself on having an iTunes library filled with artists no one else had heard of. I bought too small t-shirts from obscure MySpace bands, feeling smug every time someone asked me “who’s that on your shirt?” I blasted Metro Station on my iPod nano until the day “Shake It” hit radio stations; I then deleted them from my playlists and felt embarrassed they had ever been there in the first place. I felt like I needed to change my favourite songs if they became popular and fell into a weird rabbit-hole of obscurity, where I wouldn’t listen to anything if it was on the radio.

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Photo by Mitchel Lensink.

It wasn’t until I got a bit older and actually developed a personality outside of my tastes that I realised how silly it is to blanket-hate a genre of music for no other reason that its popularity. Your taste in music means nothing other than which particular vibrations tickle your eardrums. I was denying myself the opportunity to listen to so many great and fun artists for completely arbitrary reasons.

Recently I read a really great article called “The Mozart-like complexity of Carly Rae Jepsen’s biggest hits”. Musicology professor Nate Sloan points out that people have a tendency to dismiss pop because a lot of it sounds similar, but that that line of thinking is kind of ridiculous because “musical style is defined by stylistic cohesion. I don’t think it should surprise us that Top 40 has some sonic similarities. But I think the pejorative connotation is undeserved.” The argument of not liking Top 40 because “it all sounds the same” kind of falls flat when you realise that the vocals in every emo/pop punk band are sonically very similar and mostly about grabbing Juliet by the hand and getting out of this town. I’m not hating on that style of music – to be honest, I’m still very much in love with it – but it’s definitely hypocritical to think it’s a superior genre based on that line of thinking.

“Everything Except Country and Rap: What You Really Mean” is another fantastic article, going in-depth about why people dismiss musical genres – specifically here, country and rap. The crux of the argument is that people don’t want to admit to liking music that signals something they perceive as negative, in this case “something other than white, and something lower than middle class“. While dismissing pop music doesn’t have the same racial/classist connotations, it rings true on the representation note – I didn’t want to listen to pop because it signalled that I was similar to other people. At a time in my life when all I wanted was to be different, I hated that thought.

As well as it being unreasonable to not want to be associated with popular taste, it also makes no sense to hope that your favourite artists won’t become popular. Artists can’t survive off indie points – they need radio play, record sales and concerts with more than 20 attendees. Not to mention, even big-name artists don’t often tour NZ – by avoiding pop, I was limiting my choices of live shows, as well as basically hoping my favourites wouldn’t succeed.

I’m 23 now and obviously in a very different place – musically & in every other sense – than I was at 14. Fortunately, I’ve moved well past the “I’m not like other girls!” stage and liking what’s popular no longer seems like a bad thing to me. I’m still a slightly obnoxious indie kid: The Horrors are forever my favourite band, Laneway is definitely the best music festival NZ has to offer, and my iPod is still filled with obscure hipster bands. But I’m not writing off artists for silly reasons anymore – my current favourite playlist has the likes of Kesha & Selena Gomez mixed between CHVRCHES & Chaos Chaos. Yeah, I get sick of hearing the same song over and over again on the radio, but overexposure is not the same as “legitimately terrible”. My musical life has been so much more fun since I realised that.

The story of a blog

As I’ve mentioned a million times, I’ve been feeling super frustrated with the writing process, so it was really lovely to find out that Eliza had nominated me for the Blogger Recognition Award! I didn’t realise that blog awards were still a thing because the last one I got was in 2012, but I’m super glad they are coz it totally made my day.

I’m supposed to give a brief story of how my blog started; I outlined the reasons why I made this blog in my first ever post, but basically I was in a cycle of creating blogs, writing one post, deciding I didn’t like the platform so deleting it and starting again. When I finally decided I wanted to make something that would last, I did a lot of research on different blogging platforms before deciding WordPress was the best choice for me. I guess that research paid off, because this blog is the longest running of any of my creative endeavours and even though I don’t write as much as I’d like to, I’m still mad proud of it.

I’m also supposed to give two pieces of advice to new bloggers, which feels a little weird considering I’ve had this blog for 5 years and it’s still just a teeny tiny corner of the internet. One thing that has taken me far too long to realise that if you enjoyed a post, you should comment on it. It doesn’t have to be anything super thoughtful or meaningful – it’s just nice to let someone know “hey, I read your post and I enjoyed it”.

My second piece of advice isn’t technically just for bloggers because I think it applies to everyone: you should record your memories, even if you don’t publish them anywhere. The main thing I’ve gotten out of keeping a blog is that it’s a really great way to remember emotional snapshots and fragments of memories that otherwise you’d have forgotten. When I’m feeling blank or fidgety, I like to read through my old happy lists and remember little things that made me smile.

Even though I’m supposed to finish this off with blogs that I nominate, I’m just going to list some sites & posts that I enjoy (because I love lists, and not all the blogs I love are on WordPress):

July ’17 Favourites

FAMILY + FRIENDS: My niece was born a week ago and is actually adorable – and I’m of the opinion that babies are strange and scary, but she really is so cute. When I was having lunch with my mum the other day, I told her that I thought she was very cute and not weird looking like most new babies and I’m positive the server who came to refill our glasses overheard me, so my local cafe might think I’m a little mean now. As well as becoming a second-time aunt, I also spent a lot of time with my girl friends this month which was lovely – I had no idea it had been so long since I actually hung out with a group of just girls. We played the 2000s edition of Trivial Pursuit and I still managed to lose terribly – I guess I can’t blame it on not knowing 70s trivia anymore.

MOVIES: One of the awesome things about NZ winter is that it’s North American summer, so a ton of wicked movies come out at this time of year. I saw “Baby Driver” on Sunday night and it was fantastic – I’m not really into action movies but this kept me hooked the whole time and was a really great movie – I’d highly recommend seeing it!

(During the intense driving scenes, Lox whispered to me, “Gus has gotten much better at driving” and made me cackle in the theatre.)

MUSIC: Over the past few years, I’ve been becoming less judgemental about music and it’s definitely widened my taste horizons but oh man, even two months ago me is judging this choice – I’m really liking Selena Gomez’s song “Bad Liar”. I don’t think much of her voice or range, and somehow this actually works with that and makes for a really great song. I still feel pretty “meh” about everything else she’s done, but I cannot get this song out of my head (I’ve also had other people who aren’t into her confirm that this is actually a very good song, so I don’t think it’s just a “me” thing either).

THE WEATHER, I GUESS? July has been cold as hell, but interspersed throughout the freezing nights & gale force winds have been the most beautiful, crisp clear days. I’m still super over winter, but having days like this just might tide me through til December:

Things are good

I have a tendency to be an anxious fish. The past few weeks some stressful things happened in life plus I got sick, so I was a little bit of a mess. But I’ve noticed a peacefulness on my head this week which I want to hold onto, so I figured it was a perfect opportunity for another happy things list:

  • My new niece was born a couple of days ago and seeing her at the hospital, just hours after she was born, was the most magical experience.
  • I have plans to see lots of my friends this weekend.
  • Even though I uploaded my cover of “Drive On” a few months ago, I got a nice new comment on it the other day.
  • Photo 22-07-17, 11 52 25 PMOn Saturday, I spent basically the whole day with my beautiful kitty cat.
  • A year ago when I got my first desk job, I put my shoulder out of alignment, probably because of my terrible work posture. Since then it’s been pretty uncomfortable, but I’ve finally started seeing a chiropractor and can feel myself healing. Slowly, but still healing.
  • The other night I had dinner at an awesome restaurant (Great India, if you’re curious – lots of wicked veggie and vegan options).
  • I’ve been with Lox for nearly three years and he still makes me happier than I thought possible.
  • Kesha is releasing new music and I am SO here for it – that ridiculous note in “Praying” and the whole sassy vibe of “Woman” – she’s incredible.
  • Since moving out of home, my mum often comes into town to have lunch with me, so today I had a lovely lunch with her.
  • I just remembered I have half a brownie in my handbag left over from said lunch, so I’m definitely going to eat that now.

Little life update

I have been neglecting not just this blog, but writing in general. I miss it and will find the time to dedicate to it, but in the meantime here is a tiny update of what’s going on in my life:

  • I’ve been at my job for a while now (2 whole months!) so I’m trusted with more which means that my workload has increased a lot. I like work being busy – nothing makes the day drag longer than being at work with nothing to do – but by the time I get home, I’ve got no energy left to do anything but laze in bed and rewatch the terrible perfect nostalgic 00s teen comedies of my childhood. I’m trying to convince myself to start running again but the temptation of watching old MK&A movies is sometimes too much…
  • We are properly into winter in NZ now and I can’t help but notice just how different it is from Canadian winter. The equivalent of this time in Canada, snowbanks were about 2m tall and I couldn’t go outside without gloves if I wanted to retain the use of my hands. In Wellington, I’m just slightly cold and slightly damp.
  • I haven’t eaten meat in an entire year now (in case you’re curious, my final non-vege meal included bacon and it wasn’t good enough to convince me to stay carnivorous). I miss Vancouver’s wicked vege restaurants and I dearly miss Gardein’s crispy tenders, but Wellington is a pretty vege-friendly city (I highly recommend Laundry’s vegan pulled pork burger) and I’ve discovered the joy of Quorn pieces so I’m still loving my diet – plus here I can get a spring roll and chips from the local fish and chips shop for $5, so maybe NZ is the real winner after all.
  • In the three months I’ve been back in NZ, I’m positive I’ve drunk more alcohol than the whole year I was in Canada. I’m not a big drinker by any means, but I can definitely see how drinking culture is wildly different in NZ. While it’s not great, it still doesn’t compare to the ridiculous drinking culture I witnessed on my exchange in England.
  • As I said in my last post, The Horrors finally released some new music and have now announced their upcoming album, V. I am so excited to hear all their new songs but I also feel like a bad fan because even though I love the new single, I hate the album art. I’ve bought every Horrors album (I have Skying and Luminous on vinyl as well in CD form) but I’m feeling like I might have to skip out on getting a physical copy of this one. I know art doesn’t have to be beautiful, but I am not deep or artistic enough to appreciate the art of V.
  • The bed in my not-so-new-anymore flat has a very pronounced bed frame which I keep walking into, so my legs are constantly covered in bruises and it makes me feel like I’m a clumsy 8 year old again.
  • I recently spent the weekend in Auckland and took this picture from the plane, and it reminded me how beautiful the world is in the quiet moments:

I had to wake up at 5 to catch my flight but the sky did this so it's all okay ✈️

A post shared by Clemmie (@seaalley) on

Favourite songs of right now (4)

It’s two thirds of the way through the month and I haven’t posted once! I’ve been having mad creative block, trying to think of something worth writing about. Due to said mad creative block, I’ve been listening to way more music than usual so I thought I should share the songs that have been running through my mind all month:

“Writer in the Dark” – Lorde

I’m in love with all of Melodrama to be honest, but for some reason, this song really stands out for me – probably because I’m a sucker for dramatic one-note piano parts (kind of related – here’s my cover of “Liability”). I bought tickets to her Wellington show later in the year and I’m so super pumped – I saw her in 2014 and she was amazing live.

“Stuck” – Noah Cyrus

I’ve been wrestling with my unexpected love of Noah Cyrus’ music, but I’ve come to accept that she has a damn good voice and sings some damn catchy songs – I’m now unashamed of my new obsession. I’ve been repeating the acoustic version of “Make Me (Cry)” since it came out but her new single “I’m Stuck” is unreasonably catchy and has such a cool rhythm, it’s definitely the best thing I’ve heard from her yet.

“Machine” – The Horrors

After three long years, The Horrors have finally released a new song. I’m loving the direction they’re heading in (but in all honesty, I’m such a fangirl that I’d be in love with anything they released). I can’t wait for the new album to come out (and with it, hopefully some NZ tour dates!). I’ve seen them live three times now (not to mention that time I actually met them) and it’ll never be enough.

“Sorry” – Halsey

I loved Halsey’s first album, partly because her songs are damn catchy and also because her songs are in the perfect place in my voice (here’s my cover of “Ghost”, if you’re interested). This song off her new album is really lovely and it’s definitely on my list of songs to cover when I’m next with my piano.

May ’17 Favourites!

WELLINGTON: I’ve loved Wellington since I started university in 2012 but actually living here is a totally different experience. I love being able to walk to work, to my friends’ flats, to my weekly pub quiz, to anywhere I need to go. I’ve been to some amazing places, but I’m convinced that Wellington is the best place in the world. Plus the suburb where I live is filled with cats, so I meet a new cat nearly everyday when I’m walking to and from work. I am so in love with this city.

NZ MUSIC MONTH: It’s now the end of NZ Music Month 2017 and I’m really stoked with how it’s forced me to be more productive with my youtube channel – this month I’ve posted 3 new covers and listened to more kiwi music than I have all year.

COFFEE: Lox bought me a keepcup for my birthday last year because he knows I’m a fan of passively helping the environment. I’ve just started using it this month and I love thinking about all the coffee cups I’ve already saved since using it (my new job is right across the road from a wicked coffee shop so it’s good I’m saving the environment, because I’m definitely not saving money).

MAKEUP: As a relatively frugal 20-something, I often do surveys and enter competitions because I love the thought that I might win something. I’ve never actually won anything though, until this month! Miranda of Slashed Beauty ran a giveaway to celebrate reaching 10k subscribers and (bless her) made it an international giveaway so I could actually enter – and I won!!! I didn’t realise at first because the email went straight to my spam folder – I guess gmail thought it seemed too good to be true – but I found it just in time (literally, I had 2 hours left to respond). It arrived the other day and I am so excited to play with everything I won.

LIFE: I’m been at my new job for a whole month now, which I can hardly believe, and I’m really enjoying it – I’m doing work that I support in a field that I’ve wanted to be for a while. That also means it’s been a month since I moved into my new flat which I also love. I’m feeling really content & settled right now, which is a combination of feelings I haven’t had for a long time. For the past few years, everything I’ve done has been tinged with the taste of temporary – uni, living at home, part time work, travelling overseas. Now I have both job & a home that I have no plans to leave and I’m relishing the feeling of being in one place for a while.