What I'm getting at here, is that whether you like it or not, snobs make the world a better place. They're the gatekeepers to a world that transcends our society's deafening mediocrity. If you're walking around in the bleak landscape of contemporary culture, it's the snob's job to shame you into the light--selflessly sacrificing tact, personal respect, and legitimate human discourse for the sake of keeping the bar raised for all of us. Face it--without snobs, you'd probably still be hanging out in your living room eating Cheetos in your sweatpants. You owe a lot to the snobs, don't you?
As torchbearers for perhaps the most populist of all the arts, music snobs are faced with the threat of both intense saturation and a good deal of competition. That said, most of the pretentious elite can stay the course when faced with the ever-evolving pressures of the trade, as long as they observe the golden rule of snobbery: There is accounting for taste, and it is my god-given duty to keep the books.
THE SNOB PYRAMID
Subjectivity is a myth propagated by weak, liberal drones too spineless to take responsibility for their weak palette of sophistication. There is no such thing as "subjective taste." Taste is a black and white equation that allows for two columns of differentiation--Good Taste, and Bad Taste. Taste is math, and you just can't fuck with math. There are, however, a few relatives in the spectrum of Good and Bad Taste; these relatives, operating in tandem like levels of spirituality--what we'll call the Snob Pyramid--come together to define the singular path all great contrarians must traverse as they labor toward the vision of ultimate snob enlightenment. Each of these layers in and of themselves can serve the music snob with an entirely admirable existence, but it is only in ascension that the truly pretentious achieve the respect they so rightly deserve.
In the landscape of contemporary musical elitism, the most familiar (and most immediately recognizable) bastion of shame-consuming taste is the indierock snob. And though there are many tributaries that lead to this gateway into musical elitism, the great commonality that unites all indierock snobs--at least initially--is a blind contempt for all music that suckles from the teat of the corporate ogre, whether physically or ideologically. This contempt is to be fostered, coddled, and otherwise projected onto the masses willfully blinded by cultural mediocrity. For it's this contempt that defines the first stage of snob enlightenment.
As the lowest tier of the Snob Pyramid, the indierock snob phase is largely one of exploration, where the floundering elite seek out and solidify their newfound authority. As such, this rung largely concerns itself with a sort of lateral jockeying--through both genres and eras of popular music appreciation--with each step only of faintly discernable distinction to most outside observers. To those experienced in critical self-importance, however, the difference is nearly everything--touting allegiances to obscure record titles as though they were baseball stats is just part of the joyless struggle for class dominance. And it's the shame inherent in this particular sort of class warfare that instills the newly pretentious with the necessary motivation needed to boldly assert themselves as stalwart proponents of good taste.
But of course it's not enough to simply have good taste--it's important to subject the rest of society to your unique, exacting standards. Because it's not self-righteous when your's really is the divine truth. You know, you should really be a DJ!
NOISE VS. JAZZ SNOBS
In the academic pursuit of pompous ammunition, the indierock snob quickly learns to lean simply on lineage for easy one-ups-manship (i.e. Pavement/The Fall/Can=Checkmate!). During such genealogical excavations, it's customary for young snobs to dip their toes in the tepid waters of Jazz Music--a practice especially common during the much-lamented latter half of our previous decade, in post-rock's near-forgotten wake--peppering their shelves with a handful of Miles Davis records and a copy of A Love Supreme for good measure.
And though to the rest of the world you might just be an asshole, it's at this crossroads where true snob nobility is born: by fully traversing the often passionlessly technical precipice of Jazz Music to a point where you actually allege to understand it, engage with it, and enjoy it, you enter the middle tier of Snob Enlightenment--a conscious conclusion that all but eradicates the convictions so carefully cultivated during the indierock snob period. [Editor's Note: As far as the pyramid is concerned, "Jazz Music" is actually something of an umbrella term that includes things like pointy-headed electronic music, modern classical, and other technique-heavy, vocally-sparse musics that record stores relocate to their dank corners and basements. ]
These days, there's a sort of ivory to Jazz Music's long-established second-tier ebony, a haughty jumping block from indierock's entry-level servitude to middle management--and though it purports a less stodgy lineage and slightly cooler shoes, it's equally worthy of the discerning snob's nose-turned alliances. Because even though Noise music might be considerably less concerned with structure and exacting proficiency than Jazz, they are both equally committed to their shared primary purpose: alienating people. Which, strangely enough, also happens to define the second stage of Snob enlightenment.
FREE JAZZ; A SNOB'S ULTIMATE ASCENSION
Like anything that stares into the eyes of God, reaching the divine apex of the Snob Pyramid--his holiness, Free Jazz--is a little difficult to put into words. And like the Great Creator, I don't profess a complete understanding of the mysticisms inherent in Free Jazz. All's I know is, Free Jazz snobs are the most pretentious pricks in all music snobdom, and are therefore the dominant paradigm. From what I can establish, it seems that those among us with a palette for pretension strong enough to comprehend the sheer holy light that is Free Jazz have transcended the necessity for music altogether. When this totally enlightened in the Zen of snobbery, the article of judgment nearly evaporates altogether--the Free Jazz snob may as well be critiquing French pastries. But then, when it comes to music snobbery, it's never really about the content, is it?