YOUR FAVORITE BAND IS KILLING ME
If you’re a music fan — or, really, a fan of anything — you know that part of loving something is hating its opposite. This is the guiding premise of Steven Hyden’s excellent Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me: What Pop Music Rivalries Reveal About the Meaning of Life, which uses rivalries as a springboard to talk about how we use popular music to define ourselves for and against certain groups and ideas.
He swings for the fences with every chapter, pivoting from early ’90s award shows to political commentary. “Prince vs. Michael Jackson” morphs into a treatise on high school cliques, while “Jimi Hendrix vs. Eric Clapton” becomes a meditation on death, dying and whether it’s better to burn out or fade away.
With arguments this broad and, let’s face it, impossible to prove, sometimes Hyden loses his footing. However, he makes up for his free-form structure and general tin foil hat-ness with humble enthusiasm, making for theories that are relevant and fascinating to consider, even when they don’t ring true. Besides, even if you’re wrong, isn’t the real fun in arguing? ERIC NOBLE-MARKS