Most of us talk about the events and moments in our lives that are improved by music, from weddings to parties to road trips to getting dressed up to cooking or jogging. We spend less time thinking about those times that are not music-appropriate -- those instances wherein music might be intrusive or tactless, either for us personally or for those around us. In other words, "turn it up" and "turn it on" are phrases uttered and exclaimed more often than the far less exciting, eyeroll-garnering "turn it off." After all, who wants to be the buzzkill, or to sound like their parents?
Recently, I observed two incidents wherein I actually thought that killing the music might be the way to go. At a restaurant on Easter Sunday, I saw a teenaged daughter refuse to remove her headphones and turn off her iPod at the table. Was it the first time that I actually thought, "What Would Jesus Do?" Okay, maybe it was. Second, I drove past a guy riding a unicycle up a steep hill while text-messaging and listening to an iPod. (As a side note, unicycles are making a huge comeback in Portland, a city with so many bicyclists that riding a two-wheeler is no longer a signifier of uniqueness. When someone finds a way to attach roller blades to their hands and roll to work in a headstand formation, I'm moving.)
I don't think we can say that personal listening devices like the iPod are the only conduits of music-related fouls. After all, who hasn't passive-aggressively turned the volume up in the car or on the home stereo during a fight, especially when there's a message in the song that you want to use to help win your argument, underline your pain, drown out your opponent or make your point? Whether it's The Magnetic Fields' "I Don't Want to Get Over You," The Replacements' "Unsatisfied," Sinead O'Connor's cover of "Nothing Compares 2 U" or even Motley Crue's "Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)," these songs weren't written with the intention of being used as weapons, an arsenal of volume and lyrical daggers. Or were they?
Specific musical genres practically come with a tacit agreement that, in the case of an emergency, you have license to use it for ill. Heavy metal, gangsta rap and Windham Hill samplers immediately come to mind for effectively clearing a room or answering back to a middle finger raised in your direction.
So, whether you've turned it up for the sake of tuning out, switched the dance music from slow to fast to avoid watching an ex romance his or her new love at a party, or sabotaged a step-parent's playlist that they asked you to make for their office event by including as many references to sex as you could think of, please share your own instances of what I'll call music temper tantrums. We've all had them.