This may sound a little quaint, but every Saturday when I wake up it's just a matter of time before I start drinking.
It's not always right away. I have hobbies such as hiking or taking a long bike ride down to the south bay. But let's be real, these are just appetizers for the main course, activities that delay the inevitable. I mean when you live in a rented apartment, have no girlfriend or kids, there is a real hole in your Saturday after that one hour of exercise. To be honest, I don't know what normal people in my position do on Saturdays. I've heard of these things called Farmer's Markets, but in my experience McDonald's buys their own lettuce and tomatoes so I'm all set on that front.
Naw daddy, I drink.
I used to rationalize it a bit. I would throw on a 9am BYU vs Colorado State game. Pretend to get really into it. GO RAMS! Nothing wrong with having a beer or six while watching some hoops! If we were in some sports doldrums and there was nothing on TV I would heat up an old slice of Domino's pizza, pair it with mimosas and tell myself that I had cooked brunch. It's completely reasonable to have some champagne with your breakfast on the weekend. It goes to my European sensibilities!
But after a girl has broken up with you due to your all around savagery, you start to just lean into it. I don't really give a shit anymore. I'll find an old lukewarm beer that I didn't finish the night before and rewatch Monday Night Raw at 8 in the morning in my boxers. These are the joys of being an adult...
I'll throw on some music very loud and start partying by myself.
Now that was an overlong introduction that only tangentially touches on the topic at hand today, but I've been wondering a lot lately which genre of music is the best to drink to. I'm going to set up some parameters and then argue with myself. It's going to be great, you'll love it. Hopefully by the end of this article, you will have a good idea of what song to toss on when you crack that first beer; one true party genre to rule them all.
1. Obviously different moods/activities may vary the results but this is for ALL PURPOSE DRINKING, the cross trainer shoes of imbibing.
2. Some music doesn't fit into any one specific genre or it fits into multiple genres, I will be taking liberties with this as I see fit.
3. Do not confuse 'dancing' with drinking. Dancing is a subset of drinking/partying. Sitting around a campfire screaming out Tom Petty songs can be just as fun as cutting a rug in a dark club.
Genres will be scored 1-10 on the following categories.
Event: How much would this music enhance your tailgate/festival/concert/etc.
Home: How much would this music enhance your drinking experience at home, whether it be just you or a group of friends?
Bar: How would this music affect the energy of the bar/club?
The rules and criteria are generally bullshit and this is mostly just a forum for me to rant about music. Got it? Good.
Genre #1 Pop Music
One of the toughest moments of 2017 for me came when I was on a party bus en route to Glendale with a bus full of people that ranged in age from about 27-37. Everyone had been drinking for several hours and I just KNEW I had the perfect song to play. I grabbed the iPod, cued up my man JB and just waited for everyone to go nuts.
It never happened. In fact someone asked me to change the song. Part of my soul died on the Rasta Bus that day, but I learned a very important lesson: not everyone is a former frat guy with a semi-ironic love of reviled pop artists.
Look, recent Bieber bangs. So does early Britney, mid-period Taylor and every song on The Fame Monster. But there are actual people out there that detest this kind of music. I don't know how, maybe 2009 was a dark period for this person. Maybe they are genuinely upset that Justin egged his neighbor's house. Whatever the case, while I contend pop music is PHENOMENAL drinking music. It should be stated that it is a risky proposal. 'Tearing up My Heart' reminds me of ripping off my shirt on the frat's dance floor and making out with the Alpha Phi social chair, but it may remind someone else of sitting at home and waiting for the phone to ring in high school.
Ideal setting: House party with close friends. If you put on 'Lucky' at 1 in the morning and not everyone sings along, you probably need new friends.
Genre #2 Hard Rock
A timeless classic, Hard Rock will always dominate the event space. When you are at a college football tailgate and you hear Thunderstruck, the immediate inclination is to find 8 other degenerates to play that horrible chugging game with. But most importantly as an event will likely have people of all ages, hard rock is a genre of music that youngs and olds a like have a strong appreciation of. If I tried to get my dad to belt out the words to Celine Dion he might send me in for conversion therapy, but Sister Christian? He is ALL THE WAY IN.
Conversely, hard rock fails in the bar scene. Cover bands excluded, you go to a bar to dance or talk to people and Axl Rose screaming 'Welcome to the Jungle' is not really conducive to either of these activities. As much as I would like to Slow Grind to a power ballad like 'Every Rose has its Thorn' something about hard rock just needs to be an outdoor activity.
In the home setting it can really go either way. Are you getting fired up for a major afternoon of day drinking? Cranking some Aeriosmith and ripping shots of Jim Beam is a good way to start your day (or end it!) but if you have some people coming over to hang out, hard rock doesn't possess the proper vibe.
Ideal setting: At a Buffalo Bills Tailgate Scorpions' 'Rock you like a Hurricane' comes on right as you are suplexing your best friend through a folding table.
Genre #3 80s Music
Technically most 80's music could be categorized as pop or hard rock, but that would be a disservice to a truly delightful branch of party music. You know what I'm talking about: Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Bowie, Toto, Whitney Houston basically the San Junipero soundtrack OH GOD PUT IT IN AN IV AND SHOVE THAT SHIT INTO MY JUGULAR.
80s music is an interesting hybrid because you can lure the rock and roll fans in with some Duran Duran and then smash them over the head with some Belinda Carlisle before they even knew what hit them. You can almost smell the cocaine in every synth note, taste the vodka in every bad hairstyle and create a sense of nostalgia for a decade that probably wasn't that great?
All college kids grew up with a healthy dose of Journey and Eddie Money at their local Greek bar, which led to lots of fist pumping and hoarse voices. But the thing about 80's music is it is extremely adaptable. Madonna's Like a Virgin will kill in almost any setting. Crowded bar? Sure, it's got a little disco beat to it. Big game? Believe it or not your parents were young in the 80's and it reminds them of a time before they had to put up with your dumb ass.
If 80s has any weak spot it might be if you are having a house party and someone didn't grow up with an affinity for REO Speedwagon and Styx. But honestly, if you just throw on the Rock of Ages soundtrack, more often than not people will have a good time.
Ideal setting: Homecoming while drinking a concoction that is roughly 6 shots of rum, food coloring and sugar.
Genre #4 Country Music
Now for the purpose of this exercise and to build a more convincing argument; country music will be expanded to include rockabilly, folk, and most acoustic driven rock. That is to say that bands like The Eagles, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash are included in this category. Now on first glance you may not think that country music is a good time...but let me paint a picture for you...
You just walked into a Country Western bar in Chicago, Illinois. Every girl is blonde and attractive. People are wearing cowboy hats. 32 ounce beers are 2 dollars and the Zack Brown Band song Country Fried is playing at 30 decibels while people dance on tables...No?
Ok, let's try again. You walk into a Vanderbilt bar in Nashville, Tennessee. Every girl is blonde and attractive. People are wearing cowboy hats. 32 ounce beers are 1 dollar, there is a 5 piece cover band playing Zack Brown Band's Country Fried at 40 decibels and people are dancing ON the bar...still no?
Last try...You're in Indio at Stagecoach. Every girl is blonde and attractive. Also they are wearing crop tops with jean skirts and cowboy boots. Unlimited beer is free at your campsite. Zack Brown Band is on the main stage playing their hit song Country Fried at 100 decibels and you are making out with a girl from Marietta, Georgia named Scarlett. This has to sound like a fun time, no?
Ideal Setting: Probably making out with Scarlett and then going back to her camp which is just an air mattress on the back of her brother's truck.
Genre #5 Rap Music
Rap is a bit of an enigma and will likely be the most polarizing entry. I'll also give you a hot take, a lot of rap is SHIT to dance to. Take for example the recent phenomenon of Cardi B. Every single one of her beats sounds like it is designed for people who are simultaneously robo tripping while aspiring to go into a K Hole. Seriously Bodack Yellow bumps at like 14 BPM. I like to sweat on the dance floor, not fall asleep. But conversely, if we're including family friendly funk like Bruno Mars? I mean Uptown Funk might be the best dance song of all time.
Again I'm conflicted, because I can't think of a time I wouldn't like to hear a Kendrick song or a throwback like Izzo, but I'm all set on pretty much anything that comes from a dude named 'Lil' or who was that fucking Panda guy? Really hip hop? That's your best foot forward? Also if we're counting Dominicans as white or at least white adjacent, the current top 10 rap songs in America are 90% white people. How's that for some cultural appropriation. Man, do I just hate rap music? Who would have thought that the rapper Aryan from Cathedral High School, who won the talent show with a Kanye West song, who had a mixtape called 'Bounce if you Ball Boy' (which was a reference to the fact that I was an actual ballboy for the Pacers) would grow up to hate rap. Also if you need to know anything about Indiana, no one told a 16 year old kid that going by the rap name 'Aryan' even if was just a physical description of my body MIGHT BE OFFENSIVE. They literally covered me in the school newspaper. 2005 y'all.
But ya, rap is ok to drink to sometimes.
Ideal Setting: I imagine I could get very drunk at a Chance the Rapper concert and have a good time.
Genre #6 Generic white people music
Ok I'm going to be alone on this island but I fucking dare you to go see a jam band in concert and not have the time of your life. Dave Matthews, Phish and OAR rule in a non ironic way. Whatever, just be glad I didn't put show tunes on here because I came V close.
Ideal setting: Lawn, Deer Creek, DMB night 2, 2004.
Genre #7 EDM
Remember dance music? Holy shit, it's almost like 2012 never happened. Now Calvin Harris and Zedd just produce beats for former Disney Channel stars and we call it pop music. (Seriously, currently in the top 10 are Selena Gomez, Alessia Cara, Hailee Steinfeld, Selena again and Demi Lovato. Not to mention Coldplay) They still bang but gone are the days of Skrillex, Knife Party and Dead Mau5 assaulting your ears into between ecstasy hits. I wonder what kids are going to think in 40 years when they hear the song 'Internet Friends.' It will probably be the same look of confusion I have when I hear the song with Frank Zappa's daughter 'Valley Girl.' People will likely just shrug their shoulders and say 'drugs.'
But does dance music hold up? The purpose of this exercise was to find the best DRINKING music and while a bunch of people at Burning Man would argue that Deep House is till very relevant, most of them aren't choosing alcohol as their number one poison. In fact in 2018, I think you could make the argument that pop music and EDM are virtually indistinguishable. But music is generally fucked in 2018, they play 'Closer' on JACK FM and my mom, a 62 year old white retiree, currently claims The Chainsmokers as her favorite band. Some would argue that it makes them lame, I think it just proves that they are evil geniuses who have hacked our brains to hit a very specific group of pleasure centers. People say EDM is dead, but I'm not ruling out a comeback.
Ideal setting: That moment at a wedding when they put on 'Where Are U now' and you lock eyes with the girl you were dating in 2015 and know that it's on.
It makes sense as 80s music probably has a higher floor than general dance music or pop, but I would argue that all three are probably pretty safe all purpose drinking music. 80's also cheats as you can use any genre within the decade allowing you to fine tune the playlist for exactly what you're doing. Are you in a school bus on your way to a college reunion bar crawl? Boom! Bon Jovi. Is it 4 o clock in the morning and you're on your way to the after after party but the Uber driver is being cool and letting you drink Zimas in the back of a Minivan speeding through Boyle Heights? TAKE ON ME!
It was a well fought battle, but 80's music is the best drinking music.