This may sound a bit dramatic, but it’s true. In the following few paragraphs, I’m going to address a disease that has affected millions of music fans worldwide – a disease called Cool Factor. Chances are, you or someone you know has been affected by this awful condition. Picture this: You’re hanging out with a few of your friends when suddenly, the conversation turns to the new Skrillex EP. While you argue in its favor, your buddies, who haven’t even listened to it, reject it immediately because of the dubstep ambassador’s popularity and fan base. If this situation seems familiar to you, you and your friends are all in fact victims of Cool Factor.
The sickness, by definition, is the act of judging an artist, song, or an entire genre based upon factors that have nothing to do with the music itself. Now, don’t get me wrong – I love the whole “indie” scene and I will admit that it boasts a much better selection of music than what’s being played on the radio. Nor am I saying that all undiscovered bands are bad, or that everybody should just roll with the crowd as far as what they like to listen to. What bothers me is that there are lots of things in the music world that get certain labels associated with them, and these labels are oftentimes unfair, unwanted and undeserved. In order to overcome the dreaded Cool Factor, we need to look past these labels and accept the music for what it is. Take Mumford & Sons for example. Lots of people simply ignore them because of their extensive radio play and all the attention they get from the mainstream media. In fact, they are one of the better folk-rock bands out there, and while they might not be Fleet Foxes, they definitely don’t deserve to be left out.
By now, I know what some of you must be saying: “It doesn’t matter if they’re good, they’re overrated!” While this is true in many cases, it’s important to keep in mind that lots of media outlets singing the praises of an artist take into heavy consideration record sales (2 Chainz was nominated for a Grammy? Come on) as well as radio play, two things that those wanting to avoid Cool Factor shouldn’t even care about. Do you talk about how many sold out shows *insert underground band here* has played? If your answer is no, then why should you avoid someone with a lot of talent just because he or she plays to packed arenas every night?
To sum all of this up, to become better fans of music in general, we need to look past everything that doesn’t have to do with the music itself. The only thing that matters is how good an artist is at what they do, and nothing else. If you judge everything for what it is, chances are you’ll never have to deal with Cool Factor again. You can waste less time arguing with your friends and spend more time doing what you like – listening to music.