"The way to know life is to love many things." - Vincent Van Gough
This post has been a long time coming, and now I finally have enough context for it to get my thoughts in order.
I'm surrounded on all sides by various people and groups who are talking and asking about exactly why we like the things we like, or why a given thing is of good quality. I'm very sure it's obvious that I've been thinking about that a lot lately-- what with all of these book reviews and this post. Now, it's far too large of a topic to cover in one post, much less one book, or even a dozen books, so I'm going to zero in on the phenomenon of fandom-based music.
I'm often given a hard time about the contents of my iPod-- how it's supposedly all wizard rock, or at the very least "nerdy" music. Over the weekend, I put together a playlist of all the songs I won't skip over when it comes up on Shuffle mode. There were about 100 of them. Only 17 were wizard rock, 50-60 (including those 17) could be considered nerdy (10 of which are all covers/duplicates/ different versions of each other), and another 20-ish are non-nerdy songs by nerdy artists. All in all, about 75% of my current bank of music is fandom-based. Why?
It's certainly not that most "normal" music is bad. It's just that fandom-music has a couple super-powers that the other stuff doesn't. There are three factors involved: Memories, Multitudes, and Music. (Yes, I came up with a cheesy alliteration just for you to groan at.)
Memories "Normal" music has sentimental/nostalgic value as well, of course. The right words can transport you back to last week, last month, last year, or last decade. You can relive a few moments of your life. But you don't get to be a part of a fandom in a few moments. Take Harry Potter: there's the hours spent reading the books. There's the months spent anticipating the next one. There's the speculation about the upcoming sequel and seeing it on the big screen and the ever-so-familiar "I freaking want to go to Hogwarts." There's the sheer passion for the series, and fondness with which you remember the experience of reading them all for the first time. That's powerful stuff. The quality of the music doesn't matter as much as the mindset into which it puts you.
Multitudes This ties in closely with the Memories. There's a community surrounding fandom-based music that you just can't find anywhere else. Not only do you have the connection with the material on which the fandom is based, but you share that connection in an intimate way. Most people can relate to a love song, but that's a very individual memory. The entire world held their collective breath for the release of Deathly Hallows-- and we held our breath together. We all shared the enormous emotional experience of the series as a whole both in the in-book world and in the real one. Half the fun of a wizard rock concert is the feeling of being a bunch of geeks geeking out together over a shared love through song and dance, and the same goes for any other group.
Music And here's the thing that fandom-based music has in common with "normal" music: the...well...the music. Either you like the sound and you like the lyrics/themes, or you don't. And despite what I've said above, the music itself does make a difference. Three years ago, I owned a grand total of 3 CDs: two by Tonks and the Aurors, and Jingle Spells 2. I listened to them all the time on repeat, because of the first two factors. After I expanded my collection, I stopped listening to those altogether. Pretty In Pink (and Green) by The Parselmouths, for instance, has the nostalgia factor, and it has the community factor, but I also legitimately like the music- separately from all of that.
So there's why only a quarter of my music is "normal" - it's got to be pretty darn good (or I at least have to connect with it a lot, regardless of objective quality) for it to stand a fighting chance against all of that predisposition.