Against the World Music category

Anybody who knows me a little bit (or has seen my profile at Last.fm) has probably realised that my musical taste is quite varied.  On any given day I could be listening to raï, ranchera, punk, samba, rock, jazz, metal, classical music, ska, axé, or electronica from Mexico, Japan, Brazil, Algeria, France, Belgium, Israel, India, Canada, Argentina, Egypt, China, etc… which if they’re not your usual Anglo-Saxon pop-rock will usually be clumped together into World Music, with very awkward results.

For example, with the current version of iTunes you have a “Genius” feature that promises to make perfect playlists for you.  However, the database they use seems to have been made by the record companies instead of users, so when it does find the music I have (which is less often than I would expect), if I ask to create a Genius playlist out of e.g. one of my favourite Mexican rock bands it will put it together with Mexican & Argentine traditional music too since they’re “Latin”, something akin to lumping James Brown together with Enya because they come from the English-speaking world.  It gets even better when I try it with some of my favourite samba artists, as they will be lumped together  with salsa, raï, Bollywood and tango acts because they are “World Music”, even if I do have plenty of MPB (Música Popular Brasileira) to make a list with.

David Byrne said it best: he hates world music.

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