When I was growing up, it wasn’t cool to be a geek. When I was really little we barely even had computers or videogames to play with, so geeks had to do things like “reading” and “science” and the only science fiction shows on TV were old reruns of Star Trek and a bunch of movies about apes. I was very pleased when the Internet started to get popular right about the time I was entering college, dragging up with it the popularity of geek culture.
Today, it seems like our people have carved a niche for themselves in most areas of modern culture. There are TV shows just for us. One of our most beloved pieces of literature (written in the dark times known as “the Fifties”) was even turned into one of the highest grossing movie franchises of all time – at the turn of the millenium, no less. There’s a way geeks dress. There are shops out there devoted solely to selling things nerds will want. If you see a bunch of Mountain Dew cans around someone’s office cubicle, there is a fair chance they work for an IT department. They’ve even developed special kinds of Mountain Dew specifically formulated to stimulate the gaming centers of your brain (and, I suppose, to fuel fictional racial hatred).
It is curious to me, then, that there isn’t geek music. At least, not a lot of it. I love Jonathan Coulton to death, but he unfortunately stands relatively alone in a giant field of “mainstream” artists, relegated to that terrible “novelty” music category by most of society. I’m not crazy about the fact that Taylor Swift can replicate herself and win a Grammy for a musical documentary of her clones’ fight for mating rights with a football player, yet a song laser-targeted at the hearts of lovelorn IT guys like Code Monkey sits in relative obscurity. Other geek-specific forms of music exist, but are even more obscure. Gamers have been known to hoard and play videogame soundtracks. (Protip: DON’T try to listen to nothing but music from the Legend of Zelda series on a 15 hour drive if you value your sanity. ) We’ve even got our own music subculture, though very few who aren’t part of it already have any idea it even exists.
In the absence of music targeted toward us or music we’ve created for ourselves, what then have we turned to? Is there a specific genre we lean toward? I guess it should not surprise me that a culture like ours who prides ourselves on being different doesn’t really flock to anything in particular, and we like to take our chosen brand to its extremes. I know a UNIX admin who can’t get anything done without hardcore industrial or Eurodance blasting through his headphones. I have a friend who just completed his doctoral thesis in philosophy that lives on scary Swedish death metal. I like my rock to have big hair and huge synthesizers, and I like the songs to be about Greek mythology whenever possible. My wife, a graphic designer, listens to Adam Lambert and the Glee soundtrack, to Missy Elliott when she thinks I’m not listening, and then out of nowhere here comes a bunch of Modest Mouse albums “before they sold out” and post-Pavement Stephen Malkmus. I haven’t met a terribly large amount of geeks who like country music, but I suspect that’s more because of where I live than anything else. And you can’t tell me the gangsta rap sequences from Office Space haven’t been re-enacted a thousand times, at least in our imaginations. All those swirlies growing up made us much too angry not to want to bust a cap in someone’s ass, just a little.
I’m curious to see the response from our readers on this one. If you’ve got a second, check in and let us know what music keeps the nerd-fires burning in your soul. If I’m lucky, there will be enough of you that nobody remembers that my favored go-to music when I really need to focus on coding is Madonna. I only wish I was kidding. How was I supposed to know she was compatible with Perl regular expressions?