Tuesday, September 29, 2015

COLUMN: Nickelback Girl

Me and my big mouth.

In last week's column, I went on a full throttle rant about a woman I randomly encountered in line at the grocery store. The few moments I spent in her proximity were enough to press every one of my buttons AND reduce a hapless cashier to tears. I even invented a brand new accolade for her: the inaugural Hoover Award, for Outstanding Achievement in Sucking and generally being a horrible person.

Karma hates me. Ever since I wrote that column, I've been assaulted by potential Hoover nominees aplenty. Everywhere I've turned, someone's been there to irritate me. At first I just assumed I was suffering from a sleep-deprived short fuse, but no -- I really think horrible people are on the attack this week, and their target is me.

Just this morning on my way to work, I thought I was going to have to engage in some pre-morning-coffee street rules fisticuffs with some jerk who road-raged me from Rock Island all the way to downtown Moline. You'd think that would be enough right there to dole out my second Hoover Award, but no such luck. You see, I'd already given it out last weekend.

It appears that I have met... my musical nemesis.

You might think the term "music geek" to be a derogatory put-down. For me, it's a badge I wear with pride. After all, I've worked hard over the years to earn such a title. I've managed a college radio station, spent years clerking at record shops, attended hundreds of concerts, and I've actually had to move because my music collection outgrew my apartment. For over 20 years now, I've been moonlighting on weekends as an open format party DJ at clubs, frat houses, weddings, and raves around the area. I am music geek, hear me roar.

In order to be a successful club DJ, there are a few rules that must be heeded. First and foremost, if you want to be good at what you do, you need to check your own musical taste at the door. This is tough for me to do, because I have EXCELLENT taste in music. But I'm also smart enough to realize that no matter how much I might personally love The Brother Kite, few people outside of the Rhode Island counter-culture even know they exist.

Second, treat every request with respect and NEVER berate the inferior musical taste of your crowd (well, until now.) I've wasted countless time and money and basic life skills learning the difference between good and bad music. You just might not be as talented, evolved, or musically superior as myself. Heck, for all I know, you could be suffering from some kind of tragically debilitating mental condition whereby the music of Bon Jovi actually sounds GOOD to your ears. (If that's the case, let me know and we'll hold a fundraiser or something.)

When I'm behind the decks, my job isn't to silently cast judgement on my crowds. It's more of an unspoken job bonus. Instead, I play what folks want to hear. At the Davenport club I usually spin at, that means a steady diet of Top 40 and hip-hop. Not to toot my own horn, but I like to think I'm pretty good at what I do. She didn't think so, though. She was horrible.

Actually, she was beautiful, and that was likely the crux of the problem. As I spotted her sauntering up to the DJ booth last weekend, something told me this girl didn't hear the word "no" too frequently in her life.

"Hey," I said casually, which is DJ speak for "OMIGOD YOU'RE SO PRETTY AND YOU'RE TALKING TO ME." That's when it started.

"Umm," it began. "You need to play something other than this sex stuff."

"Excuse me?" I replied.

"You know, something that isn't all about sex and sexing people."

It must be noted, the song I was playing at the time was "Bad Blood" by Taylor Swift, which is just about the least sexy song on the entire Top 40 chart.

"I have some requests," she continued in a sing-song voice. "Do you have a pen that you could write them down?"

"I don't need a pen," I replied, pointing at my giant noggin.

"Okay, I have three requests. First, I want to hear 'Turn the Page' by Bob Seger. Then anything by Matchbox 20. And then anything by Nickelback. I need you to play them next, and in that exact order, 'kay?"

I was being punk'd, right? Any minute now, Ashton Kutcher was going to pop out from behind a wall screaming, "Psyche!" But no, she was dead serious.

I know, I know. Rule Number One. Check your own musical taste at the door. But I swear to you all, if someone were to put a weapon to me and demand that I list my least favorite musical artists of all time, Matchbox 20, Nickelback, and Bob Seger would all be in my Top 5. (If you must know, my least favorite band of all time will forever be the 80's hair metal group Cinderella. If you ever come at me with that request, you're getting kicked out of the club. Seriously.) But really, if there is a hell, mine's likely playing "Old Time Rock n Roll" as we speak.

"Question?" she asked in the same sing-song voice. "Is the jukebox on?"

"Nope," I replied.

"Can you stop playing and turn it on so I can hear good music?"

I was done playing nice.

"Look," I said to her. "Hate me all you want, but you're at a club that plays hip-hop and Top 40. If you want Bob Seger, you're in the wrong place. I don't wanna be a jerk, but I get paid to play this stuff."

"YOU GET PAID TO DO THIS?!" she replied incredulously. And that's the precise moment she won her Hoover. She is officially my musical nemesis. She is the Anti-Shane.

She returned a couple more times, but I opted for the tried-and-true DJ trick of putting on headphones and pushing random buttons until she left, presumably back to whatever weird island she hails from where shockingly attractive girls listen to shockingly awful music.

Later on, I bumped into another DJ who works down the block, and I asked him, "Hey, have you had to deal with a breaktaking blonde with the worst taste in music ever?"

"YOU MEAN NICKELBACK GIRL?" he replied at a near-yell. "SHE'S THE DEVIL!"

At least I'm not alone. Hoover Award #2, enjoy your new home. I apologize in advance for the soundtrack.

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