On Good Taste | Earth, Wind & Fire
There's no bigger test of 'good taste' (in the form of good taste that requires air quotes) than Earth, Wind and Fire.
When I think of Earth, Wind & Fire, I think of 'Ba-de-Ya! Dancing in september!'. Specifically, I think of the sheer joy their music evokes, even when their lyrics are actually about something else entirely (a popular theme in music, Kanye's last album was filled with domestic abuse references that went near unnoticed).
When I was a youth in what I realise now was a working class area, my overwhelming thought was 'there's no way you can hate Earth, Wind & Fire'. Heck, 'September' and 'Reasons' are two songs that most bands will spend their career trying to replicate, much like many a rock band seem to spend their career trying to make 'Gimme shelter'.
But as I grew up and left my bubble, I noticed a very different reaction to EWF. It was near universal shame. Not shame because they were bad, but people seemed embarrassed and ashamed to admit liking EWF. People would admit they liked it whilst they looked at the ground, like they'd just said they'd eat a twelve pack of Krispy Kremes. It was in the 'guilty pleasure' territory.
There's no phrase I hate more than 'guilty pleasure'. I understand the way a cake is a guilty pleasure, or even a pair of particular ugly pair of shoes that feel comfortable are guilty pleasures (Uggs and Crocs? definitely guilty pleasures). But music is a nonsensical guilty pleasure to have.
If you are going to have a guilty pleasure, then liking music that wallows in your worst traits - narcissistic self-pity ala The Smiths - should make you feel guilty, not 'September'. 'Please, Please, Please let me get what I want'? Do you know how selfish that sentiment is? And I love The Smiths, but that's teenage melodrama.
Earth, Wind and Fire on the other hand, are distilled joy. The sort of joy you get when you find a ten pound note in your back pocket you didn't know you had. The sort of joy that the word joy was invented for - spontaneous, euphoric, joy. Why would you be ashamed of this feeling? It's the best feeling in the world you can experience standing on two feet (technically you can feel the other feeling while standing up but it's just uncomfortable).
So, the next time you try and stop yourself from dancing to 'September', ask yourself what's better? Narcissistic self pity or sheer unadulterated joy?
*I actually tried to write this post whilst listening to September but I had to stop and chair dance for a bit instead. The song's that powerful.