Women: don't let guys pick your music05/10/2006 06:38 PM
Ever notice how guys always seem to
think they know what music girls will like? And they're almost always
I still DJ from time to time, mostly
at a place which in recent years has been "trending younger,"
as marketers would say. This is a place that for many years was the
hangout of golfers and insurance salesmen and local government employees,
mostly in their 40s and 50s, but since its sale a couple of years ago,
has been attracting more and more people in their early 20s.
Normally, my gig starts early enough
that there are mostly the older people in the bar, and as the night goes
on, the younger people start to take over. By the end of the night,
I'm usually the senior member of the room. I slowly shift my playlist
to account for that, moving from, say, Neil Diamond, Elvis, Johnny Cash
and early Stones to stuff like Pink Floyd and later Stones, with some funk
and tasteful disco thrown in, before giving over to stuff like Jay-Z and
Lately, there's been this one young
bartender who figures that he, and not I, know what "the younger crowd"
likes. Mind you, he's 23, which means I have a few CDs that are about
as old as he is, and I've certainly been doing this stuff longer than he's
been alive. But since he has no idea that anyone over his age knows
anything about music, he takes it upon himself to come down to the end
of the bar and give me completely unsolicited sociological observations
which I guess he intends for me to translate into changes in music. I
smile and ignore him, since I, as a good DJ, know who to pay attention
to in the bar when it comes to what "they" want to hear.
It ain't 23-year-old white guys who
seemingly want to be black.
It's women, of course.
Whatever women want, they get. Why?
Because guys really don't give a shit. Guys, if they make a
request for music, particularly un-guy-like music, are doing it so they
can look more powerful to women. "Hey, girl, I went up to the
DJ and told him to play this, and he did, now don't you just wanna fuck
me?" When women make requests, it's because they really want
to hear the music, and/or dance. These two dynamics sometimes clash,
because young men then set themselves up (to me, the 43-year-old guy) as
the arbiters of "what the women wanna hear." Never mind
that there's usually a line of girls behind these dumbasses perfectly capable
of making their own requests... no, these are the same sort of guys who,
in another era, would have ordered their date's dinner and told her what
Every DJ has heard the same stupid things:
"if you play this, everyone will dance." Me,
I don't give a shit if anybody dances or if they go sit on a pole. I'm
not getting paid for this, about all I get is a free beer once in a while
and the chance to hear about some new music I might not otherwise encounter.
In my experience, if someone comes up and says "everyone will
dance," absolutely nobody will dance... not even the requestor.
So, I ignore those.
Then there's "young people want
to hear XYZ..." Again, they're perfectly capable of coming up
and asking. And the idea that "young people only wanna hear
rap" is a chunk of shit concocted by young insecure white guys who
listen to rap because they think acting something they're not (which is
black and hip) will make them something they can never be (which is black
and hip). It's no different than "old people just wanna hear
oldies from the years they were in high school." I sure as hell
don't, and don't know anyone else this applies to, either, except possibly
a few guys with whom I went to high school. Yes, I DJed our 25th
A great fallacy I love puncturing is
"new equals good." Since 90% of everything is shit, the
idea that all new music is better than older music is laughable, and I
ignore it. I generally have a five-year rule for music: I don't
run out and buy it when it's new just because it's popular. I let
it age for a few years, and if it still sounds good, I buy it. This
has helped me avoid the pit that my ex-wife fell into in her music-buying
habits. When she moved out, you should have seen all the shit she
left behind on cassette tapes: Everything But The Girl, Mariah Carey,
En Vogue. How many of you still listen to Rick Astley or Tears For
Fears, huh? But then again, The Sundays, Sheryl Crow, Pearl Jam and
Weezer have aged quite well.
The thing that people don't always understand
is that the DJ is responsible for shaping an entire evening of music, not
just the hour you'll be there, and that he or she is not and has never
been your particular personal jukebox. This is why you have an iPod
or a car stereo. I go out for an evening, not to hear only things
I already know I like, but to hear new stuff and go up and ask what the
hell that is you're playing there, man? So, when you walk into a
bar and what's on is, say, low-key Dire Straits, and you walk up and demand
Kanye West's "Golddiggers," well, you shouldn't be surprised
if the DJ can't or won't jump to your command that instant. It takes
him a while to change the mood. So, yes, you're going to have to
wait while he shifts up through some 1980s Rolling Stones, to some Green
Day, and then maybe to your request. And if you have a short attention
span or only time for one beer, tough shit. Come back next week,
or better yet, don't you own that CD already? Go out in your car
and put it in.
When I DJ, I take many factors into
account: speed, beat, key, instrumentation, vocal styles, time period,
and subtle things like topics and even puns and play on words (which allows
me to go straight from Boston's "Smokin'" to the Tubes' "White
Punks On Dope," for example). I don't just stand up there stuffing
MP3s into the playlist at random, any more than a church organist is randomly
poking at keys. You can't do it, at least not without some time and
practice, so don't bother telling me how to do it.
And just remember, if it comes down
to two competing requests, if you don't have concave genitalia, you're
probably gonna get ignored. Sorry.