Our Least Favorite Genre Names

Attack Attack! demonstrate why it's called Crabcore. Somehow, there were eight genre names we like even less than this one.

It started innocently enough. Someone used the words "indie-pop," which is a term that gets under my skin because it describes music more as a business model and not its sound. From there it took no time to get my NPR Music officemates sharing the genre terms that make them bristle. In seconds, we were throwing around Crabcore, Witch House and Canine Core among other least favorite genre names.

Remember, we might love musicians who get tagged with each of these names, but we're not talking about the actual music here, just the descriptors. Crabcore didn't actually make the list — it might be an ugly sounding word, but it's too appropriate to deny. We bet you have your own pet-peeves. Here are our absolute least favorite genre names.

Filk Music
An entire "genre" of science-fiction and fantasy themed folk song parodies. The more recent (and noisier) reincarnation is the Wizard Rock phenomenon from Harry Potter fans. Doctor Who Filking, anyone? — Jenna Strucko, NPR Music Intern

Once I unballed my fists and did a little research, I learned that (1) post-wave is a contraction of post-punk and new-wave, and (2) I'm actually a fan of its most visible band, Future Islands. But I'll stand by my initial blind rage at a buzzword that yokes together a prefix and a suffix, with nothing in the middle. — Daoud Tyler-Ameen, NPR Music Producer

Based Rap
It's not so much about either the name, or even the music, but what good does a self-ascribed genre name do if it only describes one artist (In this case, rapper Lil B)? Effective as a gimmick or fodder for music blogs, perhaps. See also Hollywood pop/sadcore's lone ambassador, Lana Del Rey. - Jane Gilvin, NPR Librarian

Treading the line between elaborate social media joke and underground cult genre, Seapunk's aesthetics can only be described as "Windows 95 and Yo! MTV Raps having a baby during a cruise ship rave." I can't lie and say I hate the genre, but the name is so painful to say out loud — Dan Raby, NPR Music Intern

Math rock
This has always pissed me off, but then a lot of stuff pisses me off. What does "math rock" MEAN? Is it just "prog rock" with a different name? Is it just some blogger or music critic trying to come up with a new way of pigeonholing musicians? — Tom Cole, NPR Arts Desk Editor

Mexican Regional
I used to gig with my uncle's accordion-fueled band slinging corridos and rancheras to rowdy bars full of Mexican cowboys and their cowgirls. Calling that music Mexican Regional would have started a fight. It's "Norteño" or "conjunto." Period. — Felix Contreras, Host of NPR Music's Alt.Latino

Though it's less gruesomely awesome than, say, Crabcore, it's still seriously awful as a descriptor. This essay by David Byrne about the term is worth a read — Anastasia Tsioulcas, NPR Music Producer

Adult Contemporary
Is there a sadder genre name that better evokes the languid creep of middle age than "adult contemporary?" It's the musical equivalent of giving up (mom-jeans, mid-priced chardonnay, dress socks with tennis shoes, sensible minivans, slow and steady weight gain, etc.). No offense to the chardonnay. Actually, now that I think about it, "Soft Adult Contemporary" is even sadder. - Robin Hilton, All Songs Considered Producer



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