Music: it’s entirely, utterly, completely, undeniably, irrefutably subjective, right?
Wrong. You daft idiot.
Look, I know it hurts, but it’s true. Some music is just objectively woeful. In fact, the odds are pretty high that if you’re listening to music right now, it’s crap. Whether it be chart music on the radio, an album on your iPod, or a memory on the tiny little Fisher Price turntable that is your mind, the song remains the same – and it’s a crap song.
Don’t get me wrong, though: the fact that you listen to awful music is no more a reflection on your worth as a person than the fact that you occasionally pig out at a McDonalds restaurant. After all, nearly everybody stuffs a Happy Meal down their rotting gullet from time to time, and oftentimes the ones who don’t are even more objectionable than the ones who do; the health-conscious, pro-biotic, anti-meat arseholes who, as sweary genius Charlie Brooker rightly points out, will live longer than the rest of us, but will do so in a hideous, joyless existence. (Their musical equivalent are the kind of disgusting poseurs who claim guitar solos are “outdated”.)
The point is, we all do things that are objectively bad every now and again: when you drive, you kill the environment; when you buy from Nike, you fund a sweatshop; eat from KFC, you’re ensuring that PETA will keep on annoying the living shit out of the rest of us. All our actions have consequences, and we do our best to offset them. If you want the environment to survive, you plant a tree. When you some Nike runners, you use them to kick a PETA spokesperson into a grotesque pulp, thus soiling the footwear with their green, reptilian blood . We all have to chip in.
So, here’s my proposition: everyone must atone for all the rubbish music they buy.
I know what you’re thinking: that idea sounds ridiculous, horribly elitist, and yet, on some deeper, truer level, majestically brilliant. After all, if everyone who bought a Savage Garden record all those years ago would have had to – say – drive a rusty nail through their left earlobe, would their vomit-inducingly insipid ballad “Truly, Madly, Deeply” have been as ubiquitous as it was? I doubt it. By putting this into law, we’ll eventually either cleanse the airwaves of the dross that currently pollutes them, or bankrupt the entire industry. I think it’s worth the risk, don’t you?
I haven’t worked out all the finer details, but I figure there could be different levels of punishment, depending on the volume of shit contained in the record being bought. For example:
Radiohead – In Rainbows
Not too much of a penance for this one – it’s a fine album, whose only real crime is being overrated by self-consciously intellectual, chin-stroking, Pitchfork-licking types. So a buyer’s only punishment is whatever the local sentence is for vandalism, after they break into a HMV in the middle of the knight and destroy every All Time Low CD in the store. There’s even the bonus upside of becoming a local martyr.
Miley Cyrus – Breakout
Not exactly a musical work of art, but an inoffensive, reasonably charming pop album. Punishment: being forced to listen to The Swell Season on a constant repeat. Not because it’s good music; oh, my, no. It’s awful. But Glen Hansard’s all-pervading smug sense of self-satisfaction will likely destroy a piece of your soul, making bubblegum pop about as attractive to you as… well… Glen Hansard’s face.
50 Cent – Curtis
More of a challenge than a punishment for people who fund Curtis Jackson’s inexplicably profitable career. Anyone who purchases this album must find a pistol, and shoot themselves 9 times. The challenge, naturally, is to make it to 9 times without killing yourself in the process. Sure, the rate of gun ownership might rise a little, but so will the rate of gun-related accidental suicides, so it all evens out in the end. It’s just a logical extension of natural selection.
Any Creed Album
As tempting as it is to institute the death penalty for this one, I’ve got a better idea. We transport everyone who buys a Creed record to a huge recreation of the flooded set from their gum-bleedingly stupid video for My Sacrifice. There’s a solitary rowing boat floating on the water. Everyone must fight amongst themselves for space on the tiny craft, in what will seem like an absurd parody of an obscure Japanese snuff movie. The person left alive in the boat will be left there for the rest of their existence, pondering the monster they’ve become. (On a related note, recorded footage of the gruesome, violent spectacle will be released, set to Beethoven’s “Ode To Joy”.)
Ideas are, of course, welcome: the more absurd and needlessly violent, the better.