New form of musical elitism identified: Apple iPod music snobbery

“The iPod is the most popular Christmas gift this year, but it comes with a new type of snobbery: what, exactly, do you play on it? Musical snobbery has been around since one Neanderthal struck another on the head with a bone and called it a drum solo. Now there is a new form of musical elitism – iPod snobbery,” Charles Purcell writes for The Age. “First, there’s the vanity that comes with owning that slimline, beautifully designed instrument, with its white headphones a sign for all nearby muggers that a new client is in town. Yet the real snobbery is in the choice of music one imports into the iPod; which songs, to paraphrase Elaine from Seinfeld, are ‘iPod worthy.'”

“Looking at some people’s iPod song list is like examining some yuppie’s bookshelf, full of books about feminism and architecture in the Weimar Republic that you just know the owner has never read, there simply to impress the casual viewer. So it is with the iPod,” Purcell writes. “Perhaps scared of admitting that they like Mandy Moore, snobs pack their iPods with music from impenetrable weirdos such as Belle & Sebastian, Sigur Ros, Mum and Bjork. It doesn’t matter that the songs are by a collective of 20-something lesbians from Kent singing about how they ritualistically severed the manhood of a university lecturer who gave them a C.”

Purcell writes, “What matters is that the selection doesn’t attract scorn from fellow iPod snobs. Otherwise, they might be forced to kill to retain their credibility, like Christian Bale explaining his love of Huey Lewis before going nuts with an axe in American Psycho… Sometimes entire decades are verboten. There are those who believe the ’80s new romantic movement is yet to be surpassed, but iPod snobs think it was more of a bowel movement. Devo’s Whip It and Duran Duran’s Hungry Like the Wolf are not for them or their sacred iPod.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: Click to launch Apple’s iTunes directly linked to the iTunes Music Store’s Barry Manilow collection. MDN openly admits to having one or two of Barry’s best work on one or more of our iPods — and we didn’t rename the files to hide them either!


  1. I’m still converting, but my iPod is going to be filled with all the stuff I liked from the 80s and still like today. I’ve got stuff from the 90s as well, but I just didn’t find a lot in the last ten years that made me really want to own it. There’s stuff I like and stuff I don’t like; everybody has that. I really don’t care what other people listen to; that’s their business, not mine. May they enjoy it and enjoy their iPod!

  2. All I can say is… that man has one HUUUUUGE chip on his shoulder!

    I guess he still doesn’t have an iPod and has to make up nasty stories about all those around him who do.

    My iPod contains:
    50’s hits
    60’s hits
    70’s hits
    80’s hits
    90’s hits
    crowded house
    audible books
    George Carlin
    Grateful Dead
    jazz hits
    Lenny Bruce
    and lots more eclectic shit… it is what I like, not what I think other people like. I am sure the other 99.9% of the iPod owners are the same.

    I think the author is a “Sad Little Man”�.

  3. Sorry Purcell, Devo and Duran Duran were not New Romantics. Devo may have been what we Americans called “new wave”, but the New Romantic movement was a British/European invention. A search through the archives of NME or Q magazine is in order.

  4. “snobs pack their iPods with music from impenetrable weirdos such as Belle & Sebastian”

    I love Belle & Sebastian and respect all the other weirdos altough i’m not a fan and i don’t have a iPod…
    …Yet ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

    When i have one this guy won’t even imagine all the weirdo cd’s i own that i’ll rip to my iPod, my iPod will be a real Freak Snob.

  5. I have everything from Duran Duran to Megadeath on my iPod. With the capacity of the thing I can put anything and everything on it, and listen to what the mood suggests, not having to worry that I have limited space so I have to be super picky and “snobby” about what songs make it onto the player… that is such a “memory/flash based player mentality”.

  6. Can’t beat a bit of musical snobbery.

    A couple of weeks ago, the family went to see my parents. I added a playlist that had plenty of stuff my wife likes so that there was some balance to it.

    I have some inclusive playlists, like current favourite albums, and I fill any remaining space with random songs. The random list excludes stuff that I deem unworthy of a place on my iPod.

    I also have a list for playing in iTunes that is exclusive. It’s called “No Books, No Kids, No Crap!”

    I forgot to uncheck the in-the-car-with-the-family though and today was accosted with some bloody Robbie Williams. Urgh!

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