Have you ever been astounded by how terrible most people’s music taste is? Yeah? Well what have you done about it? In 2007 music critic Carl Wilson went to the coalface of bland populism and explored Celine Dion’s Lets Talk About Love album in his 33 1/3 book of the same name. Whilst most in this series tend to be devotional train spotting odes to albums they love, Wilson used the book to explore his own aversion to Dion and what it represents. By detailing her Quebecois heritage, exploring her fan base, even (gasp) attending a concert in Vegas, he unpacks the notion of cool, explores schmaltz and uncovers her surprising popularity in rough Jamaican neighbourhoods. But when he turns the microscope onto his own revulsion, well that’s when things get interesting. He uses cultural critics like Pierre Bordieu to understand that he can never hear Dion like her fans do, his own prejudices, his own desire for cultural cachet will always prevent him. Wilson performs a peculiar form of alchemy, by the time you turn the last page you’re no longer sneering at Dion’s bland grandeur, as you’re too busy plugging the holes in your own self-perception.
Let’s talk about Love has just been re released, with additional chapters from Drew Daniel (Matmos), Krist Novoselic (Nirvana), James Franco who cites the book as the reason he starred in a soap, and Owen Pallet (Arcade Fire) amongst others. What does your taste say about you? And what would you like it to say?