Tales From the DJ Booth: How Hipsters Ruined Music

Wes Anderson may as well direct the next N.W.A. biopic.

By endorsing dead mediums, promoting apathy as a business model and generally shunning modern technology like an Amish Luddite with PTSD, hipsters have single-handedly ruined music. The ultimate irony is that used record stores are now the only option for non-hipster music fans to discover new tastes. Here’s how it happened.

Lo-fi music production was popular in the sixties and seventies for a good reason; hi-fidelity had not yet been invented. There have always been retro enthusiasts in one fashion or another, from greasers restoring classic cars to gamers who soup up expired consoles. With music, however, a recurring trend has emerged over the course of the last few decades, one in which poor execution and shoddy production is passed off under the guise of "tribute" or "style." Instead of sounding like the Hollies in terms of chordal progression (I’m looking at you, Radiohead), hipster bands opt for the "ignore all the levels on the mixer and just say we meant for it to sound that way" approach to musical influence. The White Stripes, for instance, are clearly an overcompressed, under-produced, off-time excuse for a garage band, but because talentless scenesters who want to pick up a new instrument can cover all of their songs within an hour of watching a "Two Chord Entry-Level Bullshit For Beginners" tutorial on YouTube, the band is selling records.

I do mean actual vinyl records.

Contrary to popular misconception, vinyl records do not encompass a wider range of audio spectrum than compact discs (or even cassette tapes). The sound of bacon sizzling while a thrift store saucer plays through a tiny needle may be comforting in a nostalgic sense, but it is far from what the artist or producer intended it to sound like.

Although the 90’s provided a sense of hope in terms of potentially hearing digitally re-mastered Hendrix albums, the decade also opened up the door to the Ironic Vintage Hipster Music Fan archetype. Because vinyl is a straight-up outdated format, and because actual DJs (read: those of us who know what a crossfader is and think Spotify is an STD treatment) scratch, dent, fondle and basically destroy vinyl records, keeping the medium hidden behind a pile of shit-stained T-shirts in Goodwill made it possible for collectors to obtain crates of vinyl for less than the price of a pizza.

Well, thanks to hipsters and their fetish for nostalgia, the price of vinyl records jumped from ten cents a score to $24.99. The people who pay more for it don’t care about modern audio production and evolving digital technology. Why? They’re trust fund kids with no budgetary restrictions. Plus, it’s "ironic" to prefer something of a lesser quality (and then litter it with excuses about "warmth" or "dynamic" while knowing literally nothing about band spectrum or waveforms). No one on a food cart or bartender’s salary can afford to purchase crates and crates of wax when it’s being sold at Handlebar Mustache Music Mart for twice the price of a new compact disc.

Let me distill this point to its sadly un-ironic essence: thanks to hipsters, it is now twice as expensive to own something that is of half the quality.

"Hey DJ, why are you running Serato instead of using real vinyl?"
Because the douchebags from Dandy Assholes and the Novemberists raised the price of this brand new Biggie vinyl from two bucks to the cost of an eight ball, that's why.

Worse, vinyl is now seen as the preferred medium for, get this, rebroadcast. Here’s a quick lesson in radio; a signal is broadcast from a booth before it is compressed (chopped down), shot into space and then re-assembled, allowing listeners the ability to tune it in on their radio dial (which adds another layer of sound degradation to the mix). Basically, even if you’re playing a compact disc, 5.1 Dolby Surround,... hell, even if you have a band playing live in the damn studio, the act of broadcasting a song means that it will downgrade in quality. One of Portland’s better radio stations even brags about currently playing "vinyl in studio." No, your antenna is not broken. The guys from Humble Hog really do want their latest single sounding like it was recorded inside a trash can using a plunger.

If you’ve ever eaten the appropriate amount of LSD before listening to the remastered version of Pink Floyd’s "The Wall," you know how insulting it is for musicians living in 2015 to be like "master our songs with a cheese grater, cover them in lint and then package them for the ironically rich."

After the "it’s supposed to sound lo-fi" rhetoric is used to justify a collection of expensive vinyl records that have literally no advantage over any currently available format (unless you’re an actual DJ, but most hipster kids think BPM is a designer drug), the final nail in the casket of modern music is the exclusionary nature of hipsterdom, specifically the way in which it shuns new ideas. I can honestly not tell the difference between most new "rock" music (Mumford's Son, Imagined Talent, etc.) and the stuff they play on the Christian radio stations. There is nothing rock and roll about sing-songy, ten-instruments-to-each-audience-member, sensitive logger types who just picked up some quirky ukulele-tar in an effort to impress the chick who runs the zine store.

Further, the hipster influence has destroyed other genres. Minstrelmore is considered "rap" music. LMFAO is considered to be "club" music. None of this shit is underground, but for some reason, the kids with the satchel bags and the white ear buds love it. As a result, we will never have another Motorhead, Ramones, Smiths or any other band whose logo appears in the average hipster’s t-shirt collection.

Dear hipster in a band, all those artists you cite as influences would slap that vaudeville mustache off your baby-skinned mug if they knew what you were consciously doing to boomerang the progress of the work they laid down.

Return to Tales From the DJ Booth Homepage