Help us find some musical compromise
December 17, 2009 12:03 PM   Subscribe

She thinks I'm a music snob, I think she listens to overcommercialised crap, what can we enjoy together?

I find myself, for the first time ever, going out with a girl with whom I have very little in common musically.. She basically likes pop R&B, and I like a whole load of stuff but not that.

I'm absolutely certain that there is some interesting, well crafted, critically acclaimed work happening in the R&B genre like there is in every other one - I just have no idea where to start looking. So, as a starting point, what can I listen to that will get me to like (some) R&B? I'm in the UK and on Spotify so I should be able to find and listen to most of what's suggested pretty easily.

Plan B, maybe there's some stuff out of (or on the edge) of that genre that you think she and I might both like?

Her taste list provided for the purposes of this question: Akon, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Mariah Carey, Sean Paul, Keri Hilson. So basically, pop R&B.

My taste kind of circles around it: indie rock, folk, blues, old soul (and some new), funk, afrobeat, electrotango, a range of electronica (boards of canada to orbital, shpongle, etc) and old-school hip-hop.

We both like Public Enemy era gangsta rap - but I can't listen to that all the time - and she kind of likes (and I really like) Maya Azucena.

Help? :)
posted by dickasso to Media & Arts (69 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Raphael Saadiq?
posted by umbĂș at 12:08 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Burn each other some mix CDs to expose the other to their music likes?
posted by archimago at 12:08 PM on December 17, 2009

Decemberists :)
posted by honeybee413 at 12:09 PM on December 17, 2009

Best answer: I see you're in Wales, so this is a no brainer: RnB.

Also: Maybe Robyn? I think she's the cat's meow.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:11 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: These are both more rap/hip-hop than R&B, but I think they still count:


Kid Cudi (here feat. MGMT and Ratatat)
posted by oinopaponton at 12:12 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Consider emphasising your similarities instead of your differences, such as where your love of old soul meets her love of R&B. You might both enjoy:
Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings
Betty Harris
Maybe even Wanda Jackson?
posted by smallvictories at 12:14 PM on December 17, 2009

You know what? Your girlfriend probably does not care one bit what you listen to. Any effort you make to introduce her to music will be (from your perspective) unappreciated.

She's just not as into music as you are, and probably never will be, and there is a big chance she feels probably feels threatened a little by your criticism of her musical tastes.

It might be best to forget about finding some music you both like.

What *you* need to do is appreciate her music. Find something on her play list that you can tolerate, and say you like it, and ask her to play it.

This way you can build up her trust in you, that you're not going to shoot down her music choices. Eventually, you will be able to find music you both like.


I was in the same position. I volunteered at the campus station, I went to every gig and show for every indie band that came to town.

Being a music snob, I started dating a girl whose music I could not stand, and I let her know about it. It took a long, long time before she would listen to her music in the car, etc.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:14 PM on December 17, 2009 [21 favorites]

Also, Drake, who's all over Top 40 radio right now, seems to have pretty indie tastes himself. Here's a remix of Lykke Li's Little Bit that he did.
posted by oinopaponton at 12:18 PM on December 17, 2009

From a relationship point of view, you might want to stop calling the music she likes "crap." because then, she might stop considering you a music snob. Music snobbery comes about when some decides that everything that's popular must be terrible. Therefore, the snob never makes actual evaluative opinions about individual popular artists or songs. That means that every conversation you have about music is probably pretty one sided, with her on the defensive.

If you start expressing respectful opinions about her music, she might be more open to having an open mind towards your music too.
posted by Kololo at 12:19 PM on December 17, 2009 [8 favorites]

Seconding KokuRyu. And remember: if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all.
posted by richrad at 12:19 PM on December 17, 2009

I dunno. I have had this problem for some time with all variety of people and in the end people just want to listen to what they're into - a circumstance which is hard to force. Even if you develop a sophisticated appreciation for R&B, are you really going to want to listen to the god awful filler on a Mariah Carey album? What I suggest are mix CDs that represent the most listenable stuff of the things your girlfriend likes - all the great singles, anthems, etc. (or whatever you can at least stomach). Those things are hard for anybody to disagree with, and your girlfriend will be happy while at least you aren't in total agony. She could do the same thing with your music, and then the compromise is you switch between mixes when you're together.
posted by flavor at 12:21 PM on December 17, 2009

If recent MeFi posts are any indication, Lady Gaga produces the kind of dance-pop that indie kids love. She's smart and weird and can really sing. Close enough for you two?

A recent thread and another thread.
posted by maudlin at 12:25 PM on December 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

1) Develop a thick skin.
2) Put your junk in that box.
3) Realize you're not a music snob.

I think you should both be fine with liking what you like and disliking what you don't like. The trick is to be open to listen to something you don't necessarily like, as long as it doesn't repulse you upon contact. Some songs are just a big fat no from the moment the beat kicks in, or the guitar starts. Other than that, you both should at least lend an ear to the other person's music.

I hated metal and thought it was devil music. Until I got around a dude who was passionately listening to Disposable Heroes on repeat. Hated R&B for the longest time, and still don't really listen to it, but there are a lot of good songs that I can listen to and love. It isn't the music that's going to get you, it's the close-mindedness that gets called "snobbery" which is really close-mindedness. I've seen people say they're music snobs as if the music they listen to is somehow better, when in reality people just like music type y and hate music type x. Calling oneself a music snob to me is just a euphemism for being close-minded, because whatever a person is listening to is typically just something they were socialized to like.

I have artists I adore that someone I respect highly endlessly mocks (lightheartedly but seriously). At the same time, I tease them when they fall in love with the latest "HOT 94.18x JAM JAM JAM". It has gotten testy at times, but ultimately we realize that the other person likes what they like.

However, there are completely different genres that neither of us was into, that we have discovered together. I'm hoping you can do something like that with this person - find more groups or acts that neither of you are familiar with, and discover them together. There is so much music out there that probably combines what she likes about music and what you like about music, the trick is to be open to experiences that will be new to both of you, and you just never know - listen enough and you may just find yourself singing along to a popular song that you never thought you'd like.

However, if she listens to little wayne, fuck it, dump her immediately.
posted by cashman at 12:30 PM on December 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: *** Gifted (feat. Kanye West, Santogold & Lykke Li) by N.A.S.A. ***

Do I Go by Evren

Also perhaps give N.E.R.D. a try

... sorry, that's all I got, I don't typically like R&B either but the first song is a gooder.
posted by lizbunny at 12:36 PM on December 17, 2009

Sounds like a perfect job for the Rock Doctors on Sound Opinions.
posted by spilon at 12:43 PM on December 17, 2009

ABBA. Solid pop. When Pete Townshend and John Lennon name your song the best pop song ever you know you're doing something right. You can feel it is too sweet, but there is no way in hell you can criticize the execution. Pure musicianship.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:44 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding Gifted, such a great track -- go for the Ashton Shuffle mix if you need something dancier. NERD is also a safe bet - "Thrasher" is a go-to for sure.

I've also found that the Gorillaz & Phoenix do well in this arena as well.
posted by june made him a gemini at 12:45 PM on December 17, 2009

I just want to say - if you like her and want to have a good relationship, PLEASE be careful about talking about the music she likes in the dismissive and belittling way you are talking about it in this question. Have you seen the Venn diagram where there's one circle labelled "Music I Like" and one labelled "Music You Like" and a teeny sliver of overlap labelled "Music I Used To Like"? Don't be that person.

People have relationships to music that are very complex and personal and many, many people will feel personally attacked when you attack the music they like. You may MEAN "I know you are smart and cool, so it baffles me why you like X artist that I think is commercial pap - I want better for you!" - but what you are very likely to be SAYING to her is "I can't believe you like this crap. You are shallow and uncool. I have the insight and intelligence to listen to GOOD music; allow me to enlighten you." And you know what? Maybe she used to sing Mariah Carey songs into her hairbrush with her best friend and those are some of her happiest memories, and she doesn't appreciate you judging her for it.

Let her like what she likes without comment - and this also means comment of the eye-rolling or heavy-sighing kind- and take some of the great advice above re: shared music times. (Good rules for cars - you plug in the driver's iPod but the passenger is allowed to skip songs if something comes on they don't want to listen to.)
posted by oblique red at 12:45 PM on December 17, 2009 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Awesome, exactly what I was hoping for! All the serious suggestions (Decemberists indeed!) so far have been great, my phone is collecting a pile of albums for listening to over the next few days.

Haddock: I do loves me some GLC, but from experience I find that only people with English as a first language are able to appreciate that fully. But Robyn, yes, possible - not sure she'd go for the Scandinavian aspect but we'll see.

Raphael Saadiq - sounds good so far, pretty likely to work!

K'naan & Kid Cudi - nice, I like the African influence. Something for me to keep even if it doesn't work for this purpose.

Sharon Jones, Betty Harris, Wanda Jackson - wrong end of soul, I think..

KokuRyu, thanks for the big post but I don't really need relationship advice. :) You're right, she's not into music as much as I am - which makes it quite likely there's stuff out there she hasn't heard yet. Also, I'm no longer a teenager and music isn't, like, my whole life maan.
Other relationship advisers: I'm being lighthearted, you should too.
posted by dickasso at 12:52 PM on December 17, 2009

Decemberists :)

I can only assume that you meant to post that in a different thread.
posted by ludwig_van at 12:53 PM on December 17, 2009

Might want to check out Mayer Hawthorne. Maybe Macy Gray. Or old R & B like Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye.
posted by Killick at 12:56 PM on December 17, 2009

Best answer: Her taste list provided for the purposes of this question: Akon, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Mariah Carey, Sean Paul, Keri Hilson. So basically, pop R&B.

Wait wait you're saying you don't like Beyonce? Am I reading this wrong?

I'm kidding (no I'm not). How about Sharon Jones? Or anything Dap-related. Amy Winehouse. You like old soul, she likes modern RnB. DONE! Also, there's probably songs by artists that she likes that maybe you haven't given a shot to that you might like. You say you like electronica and funk, have you heard that song keri hilson does with timbaland ? Way I are? That song is totally from the future, so you'll like it, plus its got keri hilson on it so she will too. If taylor swift's music wasn't produced the way it is, she would be the Queen of the Indie Songstresses, on a songwriting basis. Seriously, give her a shot and try to listen past the shimmery steel arrangements and stuff.

I guess what I'm getting at here is like, you claim to like a whole lot of different kinds of music and you sound like you're pretty into it. She listens to stuff basically everyone listens to, which makes it sound like maybe she's less of a crate digger. Probably more likely you're going to learn to appreciate what she likes than vice-versa.

what about like Annie and stuff like that? Still music-snob compatible but how could anyone not like Annie?
posted by jeb at 12:58 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Seconding Robyn
Someday My Blues Will Cover The Earth-era His Name is Alive
posted by willpie at 1:00 PM on December 17, 2009

Janelle Monae, perhaps?
posted by mhum at 1:00 PM on December 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: We Chicagoans are rightfully proud of Kid Sister. More videos and music here. Be sure to check out the awesome "Pro Nails" video featuring that schmuck Kanye West.
posted by Lieber Frau at 1:01 PM on December 17, 2009

Leverage the filter of time.

Find common ground in some older music that you can rediscover together. Most of the "over commercialized crap" gets forgotten, and what survives usually has some 'credibility" This will work in any genre.

For example, based on your description she will probably love Motown, and if you are truly the music critic you seem to be so will you. Follow that into 70s soul, into the 80s, etc. Once you've found the common thread, follow the lineage back into the present.
posted by quarterframer at 1:03 PM on December 17, 2009

Her taste list provided for the purposes of this question: Akon, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Mariah Carey, Sean Paul, Keri Hilson. So basically, pop R&B.

Have you really listened to these artists? I don't mean randomly hearing Beyonce's new single in the background of some commercial or something, but actually giving sitting down and listening to their albums the same way that you would with a critically-acclaimed indie band's album. I have similar musical tastes to your's, and I know I haven't.

Personally I would borrow or otherwise get access to as wide of a range of pop R&B as I could, and just listen to everything on random until I heard something that I liked. Music critics and reviews are somewhat useful for finding out about little-known artists, but in my opinion music is so subjective that you really just need to listen to something yourself to know if it is any good or not. And these days, it's extremely easy to listen to pretty much anything. If you start trusting reviews and critical acclaim more than you trust your own ability to find good music by just listening to new things, that's when it really does become music snobbery rather than just liking good music.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:07 PM on December 17, 2009

Best answer: Lily Allen is mainstream but I found I really like her new album, much more than I'd expected.

Mashups. I've found I like a number of pop hits when they are in mashup form so I can find something in the crafting (or they just put it on a far more interesting beat). I like Dopplebanger, Girl Talk, and Soundhog especially.

Basement Jaxx. Their music is super danceable and sometimes mainstream, but their overthetop pack a sound into every sonic inch is amazing and incredible.

Autotune the News?

Akon "I'm Back" is likeable for its ridiculousness.

Many things produced by the Neptunes or Timbaland are actually really awesome if you listen to them in the same way as you listen to whatever I like. I found I had to train myself to turn off the "eww Justin Timberlake" impulse and actually listen like it was a new artist in a genre I prefer. You still may be turned off by say, the lyrics of pop RnB, but there's a lot of interesting production in there.

Girls Aloud "Models" and "Biology"

Annie (anything by her)
posted by haveanicesummer at 1:12 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Phillip Glass
posted by jock@law at 1:19 PM on December 17, 2009 [3 favorites]

Pat Metheny Group — In particular, The Way Up represents, in the words of guitarist Metheny himself, "our most ambitious undertaking ever as a group," a single, brilliant 68-minute piece composed by Metheny and his collaborator of 28 years, Lyle Mays. Metheny has likened the creation of The Way Up to making a film, and in some respects, the album feels like a vividly rendered journey, its moods shifting like scenes glimpsed from a fast-moving vehicle.

The Way Up: Part 1 · Part 2 · Part 3 · Part 4 · Part 5
posted by netbros at 1:20 PM on December 17, 2009

If you two both use computers a lot, maybe you should try sharing a Pandora account. With both of you voting, it may wander into areas you both do not know well but you both like.
posted by cmiller at 1:23 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm with you--can't stand most pop R&B garbage--but I have a soft spot for the "Brit Girl Soul Singer" variety of pop R&B: i.e., Lily Allen, Corinne Bailey Rae, Joss Stone. I'm sure your girlfriend would dig a lot real R&B/Soul too: Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Sam Cooke, etc. If she's like some people I know who "like" radio R&B, they like that they can sing along and understand the words. They don't care enough to realize it's lowest common denominator trash.
posted by maniactown at 1:34 PM on December 17, 2009

Rihanna's new album Rated R is largely about her recent domestic violence problems. It's emotionally complex and kind of weird and unsettling at times.

Seconding Basement Jaxx - it may be disposable pop on the surface, but sonically it's insanely deep.

Solange Knowles (sister of Beyonce) did a great R&B cover of the Dirty Projector's "Stillness is the Move." I haven't heard her other stuff, but she's known to have indie rock tastes.
posted by naju at 1:42 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The-Dream's two albums are excellent, with his "Love Hate" being my favorite record of 2009. Kayne West's 808s & Heartbreak is obviously both enormously commercially successful and a serious artistic work that won't get you sneered at by judgmental indie kids. Beyonce's record is actually really strong, especially the uptempo "Sasha Fierce" part.

And yes, don't be afraid to go to classics that underpin and influence both contemporary pop and a lot of indie artists. Prince's early-to-mid 80s work, lesser-known stuff by Michael Jackson (there's a whole world of good stuff outside of Thriller), and of course classics by Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye should be appealing to anybody who both loves music and loves just having fun without overthinking it.

One key thing that I find most indie fans don't get about pop is that it is every bit as thoughtful, serious, and studied a medium as the most obsessive math rock, but that it's informed by the idea that music should aspire to be as universal and broad as possible. Take a look at how thoughtful a lot of today's best record producers are, and see what ties together the work that Tricky Stewart or Timbaland or the Neptunes do, across the various projects and artists that they collaborate with.

I was early and passionate in being a fan of Justin Timberlake, particuarly his solo career, at a time when I actually worked closely with the music critics at the Village Voice. At first, they had all sneered, but on my first listen of his debut record, it was clear to me he was all-but-explicitly going for a sound akin to MJ's "Off The Wall", and in the years since everybody who's not absurdly anti-pop has all but acknowledged that the guy knows what the hell he's doing. Am I super prescient? Hardly. I just don't have a prejudice against music simply because other people like it.

There is also still a lot of really smart, challenging work happening in R&B, but it isn't taken seriously because it doesn't fit the preconceptions that the Pitchfork (or whomever) crowd wants to hear. Maxwell's "Blacksummer's Night" this year is as subtle and thoughtful a record as has come out, but gets overlooked because, frankly, I think people who dismiss the entire genre literally can't tell the difference between a song from Akon and a song from Maxwell, even though they're night and day.

Keep in mind, the people (in this thread and elsewhere) who say "I don't like R&B" are dismissing a genre every bit as broad, important, expressive and exciting as rock and roll. What would you think of someone who said "I don't like rock"? What does that even mean? It's so broad as to indicate a complete incuriosity, and a sign that, well, they don't actually like music, they like music as a signifier of identity. That's a perfectly valid choice, but not one that leads to discovering some magical tracks.

A quick runthrough of highlights you can tease out from the current Top 100 (omitting some of the lamer stuff):

You probably know Jay Z & Alicia Keys' Empire State of Mind. As big and enticing a hook as you can find, and of course Jay-Z's the official rapper of indie rockers. Alicia's done a solo take of the song for her own record, with a really well-executed buildup to a great final chorus. Her new single Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart is all-but-explicitly a nod to fat 80s-style synths, but a lot more musically complex than you'd expect, as Maxwell noted.

Britney Spears' "3". Sure, it's as calculated and vapid an overproduced single as you can create about a topic like threesomes. But it's also an extraordinary example from the career of Max Martin, who's produced some of the best pop singles in the past few decades, from the Backstreet Boys' "I Want It That Way" to "Baby One More Time" for Britney. Now, put aside the impression you've got of those artists as acts, and think about the fact that those songs (and Kelly Clarkson's "Since You've Been Gone" and Katy Perry's "I Kissed A Girl" and, and, and...) are all created or co-created by one guy, and you just have to be interested in exactly how he makes that happen. Sure, you can say "oh it's just overproduced ProTools crap", but there's a million dudes with a MacBook and ProTools, and only one guy who's done this stuff consistently for a decade. Hunt down the instrumental version of any of these songs on YouTube and see if you're not impressed by what he does with the bridge on any of these tracks before he brings the choruses slamming back in.

Not ready to make the leap to listening to Maxwell's whole album? Start with him covering Michael Jackson's "Lady In My Life", from Thriller. It's a familiar track, but you can get a feel for what he does with interpretation that is unique, let alone the fact that he's actually writing new material that stands up well against work from Marvin Gaye's mid-70s peak.

Eh, I've rambled on long enough, but there is something beautiful and profound about music that aspires to speak to everybody (no other genre could have caused those few days this summer where every car & club was blasting Michael Jackson's music), and there's a lesson there that maybe you can learn from your new girlfriend's open-minded take on music. Maybe she's the music fan that you think you are.
posted by anildash at 1:51 PM on December 17, 2009 [10 favorites]

And maniactown, "If she's like some people I know who 'like' radio R&B, they like that they can sing along and understand the words. They don't care enough to realize it's lowest common denominator trash." Really? You think people who like popular music are just dumb or uncaring? Let me guess, you don't think the classic Motown singles are lowest common denominator trash, right? Or Stax Volt? I suspect, like a lot of snobs, you'll say in 30 years that you always liked those popular R&B songs. Don't kid yourself thinking that today's pop R&B isn't 2035's Motown classics. The only difference is whether you're willing to respect a medium that isn't considered cool by your cohort.
posted by anildash at 2:00 PM on December 17, 2009 [5 favorites]

Why do you assume your taste is good and hers is bad? You're taking something she finds pleasure in and saying her joy is irrelevant because, as judged by what brings YOU joy, she is wrong.

Look at it from a different perspective: Let's say your girlfriend loves sushi. Why are you trying to take her to a steakhouse? There'a a lot of really tasty sushi.

So what if she likes pop music? Rather than trying to push her into music that is acceptable to you, you should give her music a chance. There's a lot more brilliant pop out there than you realize. My favorite album of the year was Kanye West's 808's & Heartbreaks. That's pretty shocking considering I'm more likely to listen to Angus & Julia Stone (a brilliant folk-ish record, by the way!)

"I'm absolutely certain that there is some interesting, well crafted, critically acclaimed work happening in the R&B genre like there is in every other one - I just have no idea where to start looking."

I'd start by giving up the "critically acclaimed" approach. Unless you're dating one of those critics, who cares what they choose. I'd think what your girlfriend chooses is what really matters.
posted by 2oh1 at 2:04 PM on December 17, 2009

And, something that may or may not be obvious - R&B grooves can make a great soundtrack for the sexytimes.
posted by naju at 2:09 PM on December 17, 2009

My tastes lean towards punk and ska, but I'm a sucker for old Motown R&B. Does she have in interest in that? Maybe it's something you could look into together.

Aside from that, in terms of modern R&B, I'm seriously considering picking up Ne-Yo's greatest hits album. He has a fantastic voice, and the songs that I've heard give me that familiar tug, the one where hearing just one song, or one style opens you up to a whole new world of music. It's pop, it's fluff, and all of that, and even though I'm surprised at myself for liking it, I really do. It's not even a guilty pleasure, it's outright joy.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:20 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Old-school hip hop
Arthur Russell
Dirty Projectors' "Stillness is the Move." It sounds nothing like anything else that they've done. Solange Knowles, sister of Beyoncé, did a cover.
posted by hydrophonic at 2:27 PM on December 17, 2009

Response by poster: Anildash: Thanks so much for the rambling! Had never heard of Maxwell, will be giving him serious rotation (or, um, memory accesses) - it's good to hear from someone immersed in the genre. I do have to say that I utterly loathe Michael Jackson's music though, I can't even stand the good stuff anymore; oversaturation.

2oh1: I don't assume that. Moving on..

netbros: Um... It seems great, but perhaps you posted in the wrong thread? :)

cmiller: I'm kind of addicted to Spotify already for my listening needs, and she wouldn't care enough to go through the process.

Ah, sod it.. reading up, there's actually too much good stuff to reply to individually now, consider yourselves congratulated. :) I have, at this point, 16 hours of music in a playlist on my mobile device ready for listening to - this makes it a success.
posted by dickasso at 2:36 PM on December 17, 2009

Check out the Pomplamoose cover of Beyonce's Single Ladies. Sometimes hearing a new take on an extremely popular song can let you peel back the "I'm not a sheeple" response and listen to the song on its own merit.

Her music that you don't like: what don't you like about it? The lyrics, the production style, what? Surely it can't just be that it's popular. . .
posted by KathrynT at 2:40 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

dickass: Fair enough on the MJ -- hadn't quite realized you're in the UK. Here in the States, MJ has been completely off radar for more than a decade until his passing, so it's not nearly so bad. In his stead, I might suggest more Stevie Wonder. And for contemporary pop, I'd also chase down things produced by Stargate, and the Ne-Yo suggestion above is excellent. Mary J. Blige is also very popular as a leading light of R&B, and while her records can be uneven, her best work is almost unparalleled, especially live.
posted by anildash at 2:51 PM on December 17, 2009

You're right, she's not into music as much as I am - which makes it quite likely there's stuff out there she hasn't heard yet.

I'm sorry, I didn't come in here to be combative, but you need to lose this attitude (in the first part of the statement). Just because her tastes tend toward the mainstream doesn't mean that she somehow doesn't care about or connect with music as much as you do. If this music brings her joy and pleasure and gets her dancing in the car after a shitty day, how is that something that needs to be remedied?

If you want to introduce her to new music, that's great, there's nothing wrong with sharing artists and discovering songs with a loved one. Just, please don't come at it with the assumption that you are "fixing" or "enlightening" her tastes.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 2:57 PM on December 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Kathryn.. I sat through that cover and tried to appreciate it, but it doesn't seem any better - a bit like an exercise in repetition.

I suppose the things I dislike most are vacuous lyrics (if there are no lyrics, or I can't understand the lyrics, that's fine), every-song-sounds-the-same production and especially the sound of bloody autotune which took me all of 10 minutes to get bored of after first hearing it.
(I don't listen to much music on the radio, so although I have a feel for the "pop" I don't think I'm just being contrary.)

anildash: I love Stevie Wonder, Rick James, that kind of stuff.. Tried that, don't think it's a modern enough sound for her. Other suggestions adding to list..

sarah: It's just true, same as you are more {A} than me and I am more {B} than you. I normally listen to music for at 6-7 hours a day or more and often look for new stuff, she listens for a few hours a week and when she goes out clubbing, with no active seeking/discovery behaviour. There's nothing negative about that, everybody is different. I'm not trying to enlighten or fix her (not required!), just trying to find something I like that she'll enjoy listening to as well.
posted by dickasso at 3:07 PM on December 17, 2009

It's nice of you to try to find common ground, but this isn't really a dealbreaker. I listen to mostly but pop-country and top 40. My boyfriend is a very good jazz musician and we have COMPLETELY different tastes in music but it doesn't affect our relationship. At his house we listen to Chick Corea or Keith Jarrett but it's just background noise to me while we are cooking dinner or whatever. And at my house we listen to Taylor Swift and Beyonce and he doesn't give a flip. Just humor her a little.

But a real suggestion: Stevie Wonder.
posted by pintapicasso at 3:16 PM on December 17, 2009

Beck - Sexx Laws ?
posted by trialex at 3:35 PM on December 17, 2009

People have suggested already, but Kanye West's "808s and Heartbreaks" will at least cause you to pause and consider that autotune can be redeemed. It's an impressive achievement and demonstrates that autotune is not just for T-Pain yelling "short-ay!" and finding oil.
posted by haveanicesummer at 3:43 PM on December 17, 2009

Well, Bjork should work for you two, then.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:52 PM on December 17, 2009

Yeah, there is a difference between having "refined" tastes and being a snob. Humoring someone's "crap" tastes is pretty much snobbery. You don't have to like the same kind of music. (and if you feel like you do, another check in the snob column)

That said, the best you can do is take turns playing music for each other and explaining why you like your own selection. You might not learn as much about music as you do about yourselves.
posted by gjc at 4:34 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Plenty of other good suggestions in here, and I'll add:

Outkast. Why haven't they been mentioned? "Hey Ya" seems to be a universally-liked song.

Also, tracking down covers of pop songs makes me realise just how well-constructed some of them are. I never liked the aforementioned "Hey Ya" until Mefi introduced me to Matt Weddle's acoustic cover. There is a great acoustic version of Rhianna's "Umbrella" you could search for on Youtube.
posted by chronic sublime at 4:53 PM on December 17, 2009

you two should sit down and listen to some mr. scruff.

he works alot of different angles, and does the occasional live show in/around your area where he meanders even further, but it's all music that makes me happy to listen to.
posted by phredgreen at 5:29 PM on December 17, 2009

I'm this girl. I married him, too. We have agreed to disagree on music. I have learned to tolerate a little bit of what he likes. He still hates most of what I truly love. I have gotten used to the idea that this is just something I'm never gonna share with him. Ultimately, I dated guys in high school who were just as into Captain Beefheart as I am, and I'm glad he's not those guys.

One thing that brought us a little bit closer was playing Rock Band together - I found that a lot of the problem I had with him taste-wise was that we had very little context in common as he was raised not listening to popular music at ALL and began listening to rock radio pretty much when I stopped finding it interesting. So there was about a year where we really heard the same stuff, and he was finding it amazing and mind-expanding while I, three years longer, was finding it hackneyed and banal. Not a recipe for concord. Rock Band has at least given us a few dozen songs that we both know well. Other video game soundtracks too - we both know the songs in Burnout: Paradise way too well (to the point where if I hear opening chords to any of the songs on the radio while he's driving, I say "Oh no" reflexively). And, amazingly, we listen to the songs from Fallout 3 together all the time - this is by far the oldest non-classical music he likes and I'm so glad we can share it with each other.

I'm not saying we've reached happiness on this. Music still is a point of contention every once in a while and we've been together, oh, about six years. I still make fun of what he likes sometimes, and I've accepted that he will probably never care for a lot of what I like.

That being said, I love Beyonce. Part of my appreciation for her is that I love her videos. She gives the impression of being about as hardworking and obsessed with putting on a show as Michael Jackson. The videos bring a whole new dimension to her work that you ought not to miss. You might also want to check out some of Shakira's big hits and maybe her early stuff cause she is crazy, and cool as hell.
posted by crinklebat at 6:49 PM on December 17, 2009

three years younger, not longer. The longer in there doesn't make any sense :\
posted by crinklebat at 6:50 PM on December 17, 2009

Oh, and if you make her a couple mixes and it's clear she just doesn't. want. to. listen. then you need to stop. It will not get you anywhere. You will start to see her as a philistine who just doesn't GET that you have a great ear (plus unless you're really thick-skinned your feelings will be hurt that it seems like she just isn't even trying), and she will start to see you as an insufferable ass who can't take a freaking hint. If it's really important to you that you be with someone who relates to music in a way that's similar to you, you need to break it off.

Try maybe two mixes. After that, it's over. Get past it or get out.
posted by crinklebat at 6:54 PM on December 17, 2009

It seems like the two of you could explore the genre of neo-soul and find some common ground.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 7:07 PM on December 17, 2009

My girlfriend helped to come up with the following:

Alice Clark
Jamie Lidell
posted by hydrophonic at 7:27 PM on December 17, 2009

Nthing 808s and Heartbreak, as well as the entire K. West catalog. Forget the public spectacles he's so fond of getting into, the music is fantastic.
posted by porn in the woods at 7:28 PM on December 17, 2009

Other suggestions you both might like:
The Gossip, especially the newest album: example. It's maybe pop enough for her and interesting enough for you?

k-os: Crabbuckit and The Man I Used to Be.
posted by smallvictories at 7:28 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oops! Hit post instead of preview.

Jamie Lidell
The Brand New Heavies -- I guess they're aren't so brand new anymore -- and other acid jazz
posted by hydrophonic at 7:36 PM on December 17, 2009

Oh yeah! How could I forget:

Missy Elloit
De La Soul
posted by hydrophonic at 7:53 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

posted by anthropomorphic at 9:07 PM on December 17, 2009

See, I applaud you for opening your horizons. My date couldnt handle my taste in music. We both liked the same stuff but his is more rock and mine is R&B BUT not the pop R&B. I like earthly R&B and a lot of funk. But word to the wise... don't believe your taste in music is better than your mate's. She could easily think your collection has no passion and depth to it. It's all perception.
posted by InterestedInKnowing at 9:36 PM on December 17, 2009

And with that may I suggest Goapele and India.Arie.
posted by InterestedInKnowing at 9:36 PM on December 17, 2009


Put your top ten artists into it (the more the better) and write down the recommendations of other artists you might like for each one.

Do the same with her list.

Hopefully there will be one or more artists on both lists. Start there and see where it leads you.
posted by mr_silver at 1:35 AM on December 18, 2009

Seconding the neo-soul suggestion. Depending on who you're talking to, this designation might refer to Maxwell and Badu, or it might refer to Winehouse and Meyer Hawthorne. And I don't think anybody's mentioned Georgia Anne Muldrow.

I'm not sure what Public-Enemy-era gangsta-rap is: despite singing about prison riots and assassination plots, PE was never a gangsta-rap group, and their career has spanned more than twenty years. If, like a lot of folks on MeFi, your hip-hop listening is mostly limited to stuff from your childhood or teen years, I think you should embrace that--it might be something musical that you and ol' girl have in common. Perhaps the two of you could also listen to New Jack Swing or hip-house or similar subgenres.

Having been on both sides of this situation, I think it's important to keep in mind that the problem isn't that the two of you like different kinds of music, but rather that the two of you listen to music for different reasons, and that you're getting different things out of it. Keeping this in mind might make your cross-cultural excursions more rewarding (and less frustrating) for both of you.

(And as an aside: I'm no expert, but I don't believe that Taylor Swift or Sean Paul usually work in the r&b genre.)
posted by box at 7:03 AM on December 18, 2009

Get thyself to BBC Radio 1 and listen to some radio shows. Gilles Peterson does a ridiculous house/jazz/funk/soul/anything sound, and it is always fresh. The emphasis differs per show (say, depending on the special guests) but there truly is something for everyone on this show. Also, check out the many Gilles Peterson CD's and podcasts which tend to be immaculately mixed. For a good mix of soul/funk/house, this album tends to roll on forever.

If you want to move towards the darker side of rap/grime/dubstep, Mary Ann Hobbs runs an experimental show. Not for everyone, but it's probably the closest you can get to the development of new genres without going to clubs a lot.

Most of these shows can be obtained from the iplayer, or ripped versions are out there on various "blogs" like I'd second the opinion stated somewhere above to start at Basement Jaxx, which kinda splits the difference between house, funk and r&b. In fact, Basement Jaxx guest-hosted a few weeks ago.
posted by mezamashii at 8:46 AM on December 18, 2009

Let's say your girlfriend loves sushi. Why are you trying to take her to a steakhouse?

The very act of being exposed to the concept that a person might ever have to choose between being a steak-eater or being a sushi-eater has sucked all potential joy from my day. Thanks.
posted by jock@law at 2:31 PM on December 18, 2009

Lately I'm digging Shafiq Husayn; R&B with elements of Sun-Ra, afrobeat, electronica, etc.
posted by p3t3 at 5:27 AM on December 19, 2009

Junior Senior, Kenna, Del tha Funkee Homosapien?
posted by D.Billy at 5:10 PM on January 4, 2010

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