I go through art forms in binges. Authors, musicians, genres, whatever. I'm totally unsystematic, but tend to obsess foolishly over complete back catalogs. Longtime readers might have noticed the seven or eight Philip K. Dick books I went through some time ago. It's the same with music, though I tend to stick more to genres there. Some examples: rock (Tool, Queens of the Stone Age), trance (ATB, Tiesto, Blank and Jones), metal (Strapping Young Lad, Opeth), progressive rock (Porcupine Tree, King Crimson), psychedelic trance (Infected Mushroom, Juno Reactor), etc.
Lately I've been on a dance bender. Back in the States I scorned most pop music. Though there was the occasional breakthrough, I was too concerned with the political implications of whoever was on the TV to really give the songs a fair shake. Part of it is music as signaling as well—who can name the most obscure indie bands, totally unconcerned with profit? (Of course, I've always been a huge Daft Punk fan, but that is hip enough to let slide.) But here in South Africa, I've missed a whole new crop of pop stars (who the hell is Justin Beiber?), and I have lost some of the righteous fury I had about brainless pop.
Perhaps I've just grown up a little bit, or just become slightly more cynical. Take Ke$ha, for example. I only learned of her existence a few weeks ago. Do I care who she is? Not in the slightest, save for a vague pity that the media machine is likely chewing her to bits as we speak. I half suspect she doesn't exist at all, and her entire catalog and image has been meticulously constructed by music and media professionals and performed by several lip-synching lookalikes simultaneously throughout the world. It's not great art, but I've gained enough distance to appreciate a well-constructed songs without worrying about its sociopolitical implications—or maybe I've just thoroughly given up on the American people. Here's what's on my playlist right now.