Ryan Chartrand

It’s become a familiar scene: I’m at a party – a gathering, if you will – sitting on the couch chatting with a fellow couch-sitter. Both of us are trying to be intriguing, when he pops the question. No, not THE question; I’m not that good of a flirt.

So what is this heinous question? It is most often stimulated by a song, perhaps a ringtone, usually lesser-known or “underground” and almost never one that I have heard of. Once my fellow couch-sitter recognizes the song, I know our pleasant conversation has a good chance of ending.

Face alight with thrill at his musical knowledge, he will quite literally erupt with all the arbitrary information he knows about the band.

Did I know that “Infected Mushroom” played at Coachella in not only 2001, but also 2007? Well, no, I didn’t, but that is some useful information you’ve got there! I’ll store it away with the phone number of my ex-boyfriend, thank you.

Then the question hits me like an Iggy and the Stooges power chord. (Did you catch that subtle hint at my acute bandology?)

“So, like, what kind of music are you into?” There it is. The question to end all questions. It’s loaded with repressed judgment and threatens to automatically give one couch-sitter all the power.

Oh, God. What kind of music am I into? Well, let’s see.should I spew out some sure-fire winners like DJ Shadow or Ratatat? I don’t really like them, but admitting that my “25 Most Played” list on iTunes includes Kelly Clarkson might make things uncomfortable.

Even if it’s true, Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis or the Beatles are cop-outs. Of course I like them. Everyone does.

The couch-sitter stares intently at me, waiting for the results of our battle. Who will be the ultimate music champion?

“Oh, you know, I’m into everything except like, country or whatever,” is completely unacceptable. It makes me cringe to think of the na’ve years I spent answering that way. It’s dodging the bullet and admitting to your musical ineptitude all at once. After the look of pity from the newfound couch friend, you quickly muster up “I like the Beatles and Frank Sinatra,” and change the subject. Dodged, or ran into?

Ok, I know. This feeling of pop-culture pressure isn’t the same for everyone. Some of you love answering “the question” and would happily spend hours swapping music trivia with your fellow couch-sitter. I just wonder, why does it seem that whomever can name the most obscure artists wins the prize? Is this just me?

It comes down to the reason the couch-sitter asks the question. It’s true, when you do happen upon that rare other person who likes the exact same music as you do, it’s a magical moment. However, if the music buff simply jumped on an opportunity to throttle my taste and knowledge of music, he should be trampled by stampeding elephants (or roaming anteaters, because all I want to do is prove a point).

To conclude, the next time you, my fellow couch-sitter, tell me that “the Black Keys truly were the inspiration of the new rock movement,” that’s great! But be aware of this: I spent the entire drive over here lip-synching in my rearview to Train’s “Meet Virginia,” and I think I’ll tell you all about it.

Mollie Helmuth is a journalism junior and a reporter for the Mustang Daily.

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