Everyone on this hell planet thinks they have superior music taste to everyone else. You see it in house party aux cord showdowns, dick-swinging pub chats and on Hinge profiles of guys who list their turn-offs as "anyone with a bait taste in music".
Luckily for those who don't pride themselves on being a musical Rain Man, there's a special corner of the internet dedicated to beautifully bad tracks. From remixed Love Island sound bites and bootleg Wii theme tunes to real-life underground _Chicken Run_-themed happy hardcore nights and donk remixes of absolutely everything, The Shit Music Group is a one-stop destination for truly atrocious tunes.
I caught up with the group’s admins to understand why music previously written off as being bad is now being genuinely loved by so many.
VICE: How did The Shit Music Group begin?
Louis: It was spawned out of a thread on another group that was dedicated to "shit music". The other group was for more "serious" electronic music, and I think people had quite a laugh.
Spencer: The moderator literally said, "Take it somewhere else, this isn't the shit music group." The thing is, though, that thread fucked hard.
Joe: I think that was the start of the big division between people that were able to take music as a joke or not.
Louis: The key thing about the group is that it was set up for a laugh.
Is it a good thing that people are taking ironic music more seriously?
Louis: The group has really become a "thing". I mean, we've got like 3,000 members now, and there's multiple daily posts which people engage with, so I would say people take it seriously in a sense. The music that is purposely made to be shit tends to go down really well, like daft mashups of a serious track, e.g. that Crazy Frog x Aphex Twin one.
I've noticed within my own social circles that shit music is very much in. Pre's and afters are just as likely to be soundtracked by daft tunes as they are by serious stuff.
Joe: All my mates just see me as the donk guy now.
Louis: I've even noticed some more "serious" DJs playing silly tracks on occasion too, not that SMG can take credit. The increasing popularity of acts like DJ Bus Replacement Service shows how seriously ironic music is being taken now.
Joe: I've totally been seeing the same – certain "serious" techno and electro DJs playing DJ Sammy or Vengaboys, and it pops. Those same people wouldn't have gotten away with the same shit a couple of years prior.
Louis: The group itself and that particular trend is perhaps representative of an increasing number of people who've maybe got a bit bored with how serious the techno scene takes itself.
Spencer: I don't think people should take any dance music too seriously. It's meant to soundtrack a party and be fun. I like to think the SMG has served as a catalyst to help nudge us towards that point, and that people taking ironic music more seriously is a natural consequence of that. Part of me worries that the ironic happy hardcore bunch will "live to become the villain" and get stuffy and exclusionary, though a much bigger part of me thinks that would be really funny.
Do you think that’s because memes have specifically affected clubbing culture?
Spencer: I can see it heading there, but I'm not sure, unless you want to get real meta and say that the "memeification" of everything has crept into dance music. Most of the dance and rave memes aren't really that accessible unless you are of that world.
Louis: Definitely – aspects of club culture nowadays are like a parody of themselves. Solomun, for example, clearly takes himself seriously, but to SMG he is a living meme. Although other acts like Solardo see the funny side a bit more. [Louis links us to a screenshot of Solardo posting in the group that anyone from SMG gets free guestlist to his nights.] A lot of the content being posted nowadays is in appreciation rather than criticism – the sort of stuff that people know is a bit crap but we still really enjoy listening to. Michael Bibi and Skream's new track, for example, is just so bad it’s good.
What would you say actually makes the music shit?
Spencer: I don’t think anyone agrees fully. The original thread was "post the shittest song you know", so when we first opened shop people were trying to find the worst thing they could. The first ironic submission was "Tribesman" by Solardo, and we started getting a lot of silly tech house, donk and happy hardcore, which are actually quite enjoyable but not "cool".
Joe: I've got my own scale that I personally think works really well. If it barely meets the criteria of sitting in this box, it won't make the cut.
Louis: Emphasis on silly, like it’s made for a laugh but tends to have quite good production. Off Me Nut Records kinda stuff won't be getting five stars in a Resident Advisor review, but I rate it.
What are the best worst tracks you’ve seen in the group?
Louis: That Skream x Michael Bibi track had a lot of hype around it because it’s so ridiculous and nobody knows if it's ironic or not. Like, is Skream taking the piss when he says it’s his next "Midnight Request Line"?
Joe: That was like new levels for me. It wasn't ironic – the production was so unbelievably bad.
Spencer: This is the all-time worst track, IMO.
Anything else we need to know?
Joe: If there's anything to add, it's that it's understanding that music listed as bad or previously written off is now enjoyed by a growing group.
Spencer: I agree – it's really cool that people are starting to engage with music in a new way and cracks are showing in the facade of dance music's faux-intellectual obsession with being serious.
Louis: Solomun after-party videos are good evidence of that. Like the man himself and the crowd clearly see themselves as elite, but most of us just laugh about the wafting.
Spencer: VICE, please send us to interview Solomun on his wafting techniques.