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Nathan's column: There’s no accounting for taste

I took my nephew to his first concert on Saturday night. Part of the All Star Game festivities, it featured it featured Minneapolis-based hip-hop group Atmosphere and a suddenly-huge band called Imagine Dragons that plays the kind of upbeat but ultimately uninteresting music that seems tailor made to play over a package of highlights as the All Star Game goes to a commercial.

Chances are you know at least one of their songs, even if you don’t realize it. Chances are you think it’s, you know, fine.

Basically, they were the perfect soundtrack for a schedule of activities that also featured Adrian Peterson being terrible at softball and an evening of entertainment built entirely around muscley guys trying to hit baseballs a long way.

I went to the concert because I’m a fan of Atmosphere, and because the tickets were free and because it’s not like Imagine Dragons is entirely adequate. I just don’t expect to own any of their CDs anytime soon. And not just because nobody owns CDs anymore.

I enjoy Imagine Dragons in much the same way I enjoy cream-based soups.

My nephew had a different perspective. He said the concert was awesome, even though our seats in TCF Bank Stadium might have been closer to St. Paul than they were to the stage.

My nephew will be in seventh grade in the fall, and he told me Saturday Imagine Dragons is one of his top five favorite bands/ singers. The rest of that list includes candy-colored pop star Katy Perry, wiggly-hipped Shakira, thrift-shopping rapper Macklemore and the canine-themed Pitbull, who based on my admittedly limited knowledge is expert at making songs that are both kind of catchy and really, really terrible.

I thought about correcting the poor kid. I figured I’d be doing him a favor if I pointed out he liked terrible music, then setting him on a more respectable path. Something acoustic, maybe. Or British.

Then I thought about the music I listened to when I was his age. It wasn’t pretty.

I actually think I had pretty good taste in music growing up. For the most part, anyway. There were certainly a few entries in my collection of CDs (or, sigh, cassettes) best left forgotten, though.

I listened mostly to country music early in my life, because that’s what my dad listened to. It was Alabama and the Oak Ridge Boys and Randy Travis, back before he went nuts.

The first non-country song I remember liking was Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger. It’s great when the Farmington Tiger marching band plays it, but I mostly feel shame when I think about that now.

It was a Rocky thing at the time, but now I mostly pity the fool who had to share the stereo with me.

There were other poor choices along the way. One of the first two CDs I bought was Young MC’s … well, I don’t remember what the name of the CD was. It was the one with Bust a Move, the song that for way too long was the only thing most Americans knew about rap music.

I also owned a CD by Vanilla Ice, who had a huge hit with Ice, Ice Baby but might have set the cause of white people rapping back by decades. He sure did have shiny jackets, though.

Over the years I have owned a single of “I’m Too Sexy,” Right Said Fred’s anthem to, I don’t know, not wanting to wear shirts. And of Britney Spears’ “... Baby One More Time.” To be fair, I got that one as part of a press release at work in advance of Britney’s first appearance at the Mall of America.

Full disclosure: When I said “over the years,” what I meant was I still own both of those CDs, tucked away in a dark corner of my collection.

Musical tastes are a constant work in progress. Presumably my nephew will move on to other things, but I suppose it’s OK if he doesn’t, too.

Just please, not Pitbull.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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