Why can’t we dislike The Velvet Underground?

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Patricia Kwiatkowski

As a longtime fan of rock music, I’m no stranger to golden oldies like AC/DC, The Who, and the Beatles. It, admittedly, took me a little while to finally listen to them, but when I did, I was blown away. There was something so refreshing, so new about these old time favorites that modern rock couldn’t compare to. It was just so mind blowing that these bands were the predecessors of today’s music. So much has changed, and somehow these bands still stay so iconic.

So, naturally, I had to delve into The Velvet Underground. Over the semester break, I finally got around to listening to their very first album. I knew about their provocative subject matter, their musical experimentation, and their often nihilistic attitudes. There’s a reason why The Velvet Underground is essentially the grandfather of punk rock and alternative music. 

Let’s just say I know why The Velvet Underground achieved such little success when they were starting out.

Look, I’m not saying the band was terrible. I’m really not. Their later songs are fantastic; it’s just that I can see why people wouldn’t like them. Some of their more experimental stuff and their lyrics aren’t something everyone would enjoy. There’s no shame in that. What is shameful is the fact that people would tear others down for not enjoying The Velvet Underground and other golden oldies.

I have the same respect for this band as I do for the Beatles. It’s just that people often forget that The Velvet Underground wasn’t very popular when they were around, and that the Beatles first started out as a boy band. Somewhere down the line a bunch of old white people decided that these bands would be the grandparents of modern rock, and now anyone who doesn’t like them must suffer intense scorn. And while these bands and others are fantastic, that doesn’t mean other bands are less deserving of glory.

People can like what they like. Music is there for everyone to enjoy, and sometimes you’re just not the target audience. And that’s okay, there are plenty of other genres to choose from. The airwaves belong to everyone, after all.