Have you heard about this new trend for "personal music stylists" who customize "domestic soundtracks" for rich people's homes? These guys go to their clients' houses (presumably professionally decorated), look at their personal photos, and go though their preexisting music to get a sense of the desired ambiance — just as they would were they programming a fashion show or a store soundtrack. And yes, people want these made for their bedrooms too. Sure, this takes laziness, lack of confidence and outsourcing to decadent new lows. Never before has such a premium been placed on other people's taste, or have opinions been a hotter commodity. But...aren't these people, you know, embarrassed?It's really not shocking that since all other modes of self-expression — clothes, food, closet organizing, home decor — have been farmed out, music, the most judgey of all media, should follow. We've all known the anxiety of seeing some judgmental hipster ass reach for our CD book or the shallow elation of having the same person ask casually what it is you're playing. Music conveys taste, sophistication, irony, confidence — this is not news. What shocks me is not that people would want to leave this task in professional hands — but, rather, that they're not embarrassed to admit publicly that they don't have individual tastes and opinions. Of course, I'm sure they don't admit the music has been curated. (Do they study up, so they can casually drop the names of obscure artists if people ask?) That would defeat the whole purpose. And this sort of casual domestic treachery is the name of the game nowadays — think about the spate of weird commercials in which people try to pass off supermarket desserts as homemade and cheap candles as boutique! But doesn't something in them rebel at relinquishing this most personal of synecdoches? More to the point, as anyone who's logged any time in retail can tell you, being at the mercy of even the most tasteful other's musical whims can be the cruelest kind of torture. "Hiring someone to make those decisions for you suggests that you simply don't know who you are," says Gary Susma in EW. Well, maybe, but that strikes me as a bit harsh: the truth is, I'm always delighted to get a recommendation or a mix from a friend whose musical tastes I respect — and I'm flattered when people like the bizarre mixes I dish out with regularity (and yes, a part of me is kind of wondering how you get into this racket!) Nowadays, the music you play is judged harshly and often unfairly and I think it's a natural defense to slough off one superficial burden in a superficial world, where we're judged on enough things we can't control. But most of us have the break in place that knows not only that we'd be embarrassing ourselves with our naked insecurity, but that we'd be buying into a culture that fosters it. Is lack of embarrassment a privilege of the new wealth? Makes poverty feel bearable! Does This Song Match My Sofa? [NY Times] Do We Really Need To Hire Personal Playlist Consultants? [EW]
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