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Confessions of a Fake Music Connoisseur
Adam Elayan ’24

Adam Elayan ’24 is an aspiring journalist, leader of the Big Blue Sports Network, and a regular contributor to The Flex. In his previous column, Four Albums to Get Into in 2024, our intro referred to him as a music connoisseur. He is determined to correct that misperception. Welcome to his new Op-Ed, Confessions of a Fake Music Connoisseur, in which, we would like to point out, he may or may not prove that he does indeed have pretty solid musical taste.


If you are on my Snapchat music story (for those who are, I’m deeply sorry and I swear I’m not trying to seem different by posting The Cure) and you think my music taste is eclectic or complex, then I have succeeded in tricking you. Ultimately, my goal is to convince everyone I know of this (have you read my last two Flex articles?), and if I ever get a job at the Times, I’ll take the initiative global. 

The story of how I became a musical con artist is somehow less interesting than it sounds. In middle school, I liked to make it known that I listened to “real” rap. Of course, this meant three Tupac songs, two Eminem songs, and “Ice, Ice, Baby.” Realizing that I was fooling no one, I crafted an “oldies” playlist, lifting a slew of ’70s cuts from the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack. Once I tired of these, I moved on to a truly vexing period of my music-listening development which consisted of top 40 rap hits and sinister British drill freestyles. 

Finally, when I decided I could not stand to hear “Welcome to Brixton” one more time, I entered the phase I am in now: the phase of the fraudulent connoisseur. From my Spotify account, it seems like I have gained access to the wide world of music—I have a 20-hour playlist of just ’90s rock songs, 13 hours of R&B, 10 hours of modern hip-hop, and pretty much every genre and decade in between. In truth, however, all I did was make one Google search. About two years ago, when I decided to branch out, I reasoned that the best way to do this would be to start with the greatest albums of all time. Ever the intellectual, I typed “greatest albums of all time” into the search bar and clicked on the first link that popped up. I carelessly scrolled through Rolling Stone’s list of the top 500 albums of all time, selecting albums that I thought had cool covers, steering clear of those whose descriptions I found too foreign (what exactly is “post rock”?), and logging off after getting bored around the 300s. After I listened to all the records I had selected, I went back to the list and scrolled some more until I got bored again. I kept listening and coming back until I got to number one, and by that time, I knew I had skipped over so many that it was time to go back to the start of the list and fill in the gaps. Currently, I’m doing this for the third, and probably (definitely not) final time. Of the roughly 600 albums I’ve listened to over the past two years, I’ve found at least 400 of them in this embarrassingly easy way. As for the others, I found them through even more novel searches, such as “greatest jazz albums of all time” and “best albums of the ’90s.” 

Though I am being dismissive of my methods of finding music, I have come across some pretty “out there” stuff, even on Rolling Stone’s lists. I haven’t actually liked much of it, though. My three favorite John Coltrane albums are Ballads, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartmann, and John Coltrane and Duke Ellington. Coltrane is known for pushing the boundaries as a jazz musician, for changing the genre altogether on multiple occasions during his career. There was a period during his experimentation when his manager told him that he ought to release a few palatable records because his boundary-pushing was coming to be seen as anti-jazz. Those few easy-to-listen-to records? Ballads, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartmann, and John Coltrane and Duke Ellington. Wherever I go in music, it is always the mellow, downbeat, soothing tracks that grab my attention. I’ve heard a lot of in-your-face, up-tempo music, and I can safely say it isn’t my thing. If you listened to only my playlists, you might never know that The Velvet Underground were a psychedelic band or that Miles Davis made bebop. Even with this personal preference, the variety I’ve found is enough that I could go years without getting bored. As an added bonus, I have gotten to the point where there are people who are intrigued enough by my veneer of expertise to pretend they think I have cool taste in music (it’s just my girlfriend’s parents—she told them I like the Foo Fighters). In reality, I’m just a bored teenager with a search bar and a shred of curiosity. And so are you.





To contact the author: Adam Elayan '24

Portrait by Flex photographer Aiden de Asla '24