You say HAIM and I hear Nu Shooz or Stacey Q or, hell, even Debbie Gibson

If you spend any time lurking about certain musical alleyways and corners of the Internet, you know that HAIM is the it band of the moment. If you don’t know that, it’s okay. The world is vast and varied place. I am sure there are a bajillion things you know about that I’ve never heard of. There is no need for you to proclaim your ignorance in the comments, or via email.

It seems that, without fail, whenever I talk about something I’ve decided is pretty wide-spread and universal, people feel the need to be all “I’ve never even heard of that.” I don’t understand the compulsion to publicly admit your ignorance and wear it as a badge of honor, but people love to do it. I cannot tell if it’s supposed to belittle the person claiming that everyone knows about this thing, or if it’s supposed to show how above the hoi polloi the confessor is. Either way, there’s this thing called Google, use it.

Back to HAIM, the new big thing of the moment. Because I like to be down with the hip jams the kids are listening to, I’ve been eagerly awaiting their album. It came out last week and boy do I dislike it with an intensity I have thus far reserved for Gwen Stefani, Alt-J, and Lana Del Rey. HAIM has joined that illustrious group of musicians who make me turn the channel and/or turn off the radio.

Now, I am not basing this solely on the Shania Twain meets The Eagles single “The Wire.” I’ve listened to the album two and a half times, and I’m listening to right now as I type in case my mind suddenly decides, “right on, this is awesome.”

The music on this album bugs me so much that I am simply agog that other human beings want to listen to it without having the urge to rip their ears off and throw them to the ground. I am stunned that not only are people enjoying it, but they’re lauding it as really, really good music and all I can think is, didn’t they listen to pop music in the 80s? Did they miss that?

It seems that all the acclaim for HAIM (heh) is divorced from the fact that every single one of their songs sounds like something KDWB (the local Top-40 pop music radio station) would have played from 1985-1989. To my ears HAIM sounds like all 80s one-hit wonder synth pop.

For the life of me, I cannot hear what makes HAIM so much different from say Stacey Q:

Or Nu Shooz:

Or even the queen of mid-80s, mindless bubblegum pop Debbie Gibson:

So this raises the question (at least in my over-thinking mind) why can I hear Nu Shooz without getting that itchy, annoyed, my lungs don’t fit inside my body feeling? I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure that out. I suspect it might have something to do with:

1.) The fact that growing up I listened to (and enjoyed) this sort of pop music. It is the soundtrack to my teenage years, and yet I never really, truly loved it. I thought I knew what love was, but what did I know? Because eventually I met the music of The Replacements and learned what real love is. I still have affection for that 80s pop, but that’s mostly because it’s steeped in nostalgia. It’s simple math really: 80s-synth pop – nostalgia = annoyance.

2.) Because I loved 80s pop music, I know all too well that it was deemed “music for girls” and we all know that our culture has decided all the things for girls/women/chicks are second class. It’s not as cool as boy/men stuff, or as our society deems it “stuff.” So now, suddenly, the dude-rock establishment has stumbled on this 80s-synth pop and it’s good enough? Is it new to them because they missed it the first time it was popular because they were too cool listening to Van Halen and, I don’t know, Metallica or getting into their parents’ Pink Floyd records? I don’t know.

I don’t even know why it bothers me so much that I don’t like HAIM when everybody else does. I don’t like lots of things that other people love (See: zombies, football, pie, and “Community”), and I’m perfectly okay with it. See: world vast, varied, blah, blah blah. And yet. . . I have the urge to talk about my dislike of HAIM all the time whenever someone brings them up. I want to bring up HAIM just so I can talk about not liking the music and dissect the dislike. What is that?

So to sum it up, HAIM sucks and if you like them I feel sorry for you.

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  1. Kelly 08.Oct.13 at 3:42 am

    These are the same types that lauded Destroyer’s 2011 turd ‘Kaputt’. Thank you for the laughs and spot on assessment.

    1. Jodi 08.Oct.13 at 9:22 am

      Thank you for reminding me that often the dude-rock establishment is wrong.

  2. Doug 10.Oct.13 at 11:00 pm

    Jodi, don’t be sad; they’re a world class fad.


    Sure, we could talk about how your desire for an outlet for this pseudo-vitriol about a pop sensation could be motivated by a need for acknowledging you are not like most people our age, and that it’s the flip side of the same desire those people you mention who declare their ignorance of such things is motivated by a need for acknowledging they have adopted the “proper” adult areas of focus (all of this operating at an unconscious level, of course), or we could agree with your self-aware admission of the modest distinction between this disdain and your youthful fondness for the same sort of drivel being time (had there been blogs back then might someone have closed a post with the line “Stacy Q sucks and if you like her I feel sorry for you”? Probably.), and we could ponder what psychologists would make of someone who goes to such efforts to listen twice to something in order get to the point of adding it to a personal pantheon of crap, but I’d rather focus on how you used “hoi polloi” in its proper context (to indicate the common people, rather than the misappropriated connotation of snooty fancy-pants). (I am not kidding about the last part.)

    We all have our particular axes to grind. And thanks to the interwebs, we have a global grinder.

    These are marvelous times, even if the pop music blows (but 30 years from now HAIM won’t seem so bad because the pop music then is really going to suuuuuuuuuuuuuuck).


    When I heard of HAIM I thought “They named themselves after one of the Corey’s?”

    I am old.

    1. Jodi 11.Oct.13 at 8:20 am

      I love all this. All of it. But mostly I just came here to say, people use hoi polloi for the hoity toity? Oh man, that makes me angrier than all the acclaim Haim is getting.

      Also, I agree with the whole Cory thing, but they pronounce it hime (to rhyme with, well rhyme and lime and time), and not after the actor who portrayed Lucas (his best role).

  3. Stacey 16.Jan.14 at 11:56 am

    You are spot on and I was quite sure that these girls had some wealthy high powered uncle who owned XM radio. This is the only explanation for all of the play they get on the XMU channel (a channel that normally has some really fresh new music). I honestly thought their “The Wire” song was going to be a cover of the Eagles “Heartache tonight” right up until they started singing and couldn’t figure out if I was more annoyed that they completely ripped that song off or relieved that they didn’t try and cover it. I love that all I had to do is type in Haim sucks in Google and I got your funny and completely correct review. Haim does suck, I’ll back you on that.


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