A Playlist of Bands We Pretended to Like As Teens 

At an “Oktoberfest” carnival in 8th grade, I met a boy with
blonde tips who was in an awful band and had a reputation as an
exceptionally fast swimmer. Immediately, I was in love. We sat
down on a grassy hill and he asked me if I liked the Smashing
Pumpkins. I said “Yes!”, even though I had no idea who the
Smashing Pumpkins were; my favorite record at the time was
Michelle Branch’s seminal Hotel Paper. He then asked
if I liked a band called “UDB,” to which I exclaimed, again,
“yes!” UDB, I learned from a friend who’d overheard him joking
about it later, meant “Up Da Butt.” We did not speak again, and
I still hate the Smashing Pumpkins.

After speaking to a number of colleagues, I learned that not
everyone lied to be cool when they were younger. Then again,
it’s also possible that they are lying to me now in order to
give the appearance of having once been cool. “Uh,” Hamilton
Nolan replied when I asked if he’d ever pretended to like a
band to impress someone. “No, I was just into hip hop.”

“I think I was the opposite, more obnoxious type of teen,”
Deadspin’s Samer Kalaf told me, “where I hated everything
popular and pretended that I understood Pink Floyd.”

“I was a really cool teen,” Anna Merlan said apologetically.
“Much cooler then.” Kate Dries, as always, also provided a
strong statement: “I never pretended to like any bands and as
such my musical tastes were deemed wildly unpopular.”

Fortunately for my self-esteem, I was eventually able to locate
a handful of coworkers across Gizmodo Media Group who, like me,
were trying (varying degrees of) hard. Below are their stories,
accompanied by a playlist you may or may not want to listen to.

1. The Rolling Stones

On the first day of freshman year of high school, the “hottest”
freshman boy showed up wearing a Rolling Stones shirt and had
the tongue sticker on his folder or something. Naturally, I
spent all of my babysitting money on the entire discography of
the Rolling Stones (my father has never been prouder) and made
it my mission to be an absolute expert so I’d have solid
material for the first time I spoke to him. When I finally did,
he was like, “Whoa, you seem to really know a lot about the
Rolling Stones!” And I was like, “Yeah, don’t you love them
too?” He said, “Not really. I mean, I have a t-shirt…” He did
go on to become my first boyfriend, though. –Phoebe

2. Blur

I feel like I should have pretended more, for my own safety and
shielding of ridicule, but I always openly enjoyed typically
gay shit like Madonna and Mariah Carey. I guess it was one of
my ways of being out without being out. I remember once being
irritated by a girl going on and on about Oasis so I decided
for no other reason than to oppose her that I was team Blur. I
had only heard “Girls & Boys” (this was the year before
their self-titled album with their sole legit U.S. hit, “Song
2,” came out). So I bought Parklife and then realized
I loved it and then became obsessed with Brit Pop for years and
years. So pretending to like a band, I guess, resulted in my
actually liking the band. Never did get into Joy Division,
though, despite feeling obligated to. –Rich Juzwiak

3. Dave Matthews Band

My crush (who I had never
spoken to) wore a Dave Matthews Band hat all the time so I said
I liked Dave Matthews Band to all my friends in the hopes that
it would get back to him. It never did and it made people think
I like Dave Matthews Band, so lose-lose. –Madeleine

4. Elastica

In middle school, everyone liked Elastica, including the
edgiest and hottest boy in our grade. I didn’t care for
Elastica, really, though I did admire the lead singer’s sharp
bob. The reason I went along with this charade was really
unspeakably lame: everyone else was. I probably still know the
words to “Connection,” a fact that will haunt me until my dying
day. In high school, what was popular was also what I
liked—early Juvenile, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and endless repeats
of “I Got 5 On It,” played to much uproar every time it came on
at a pep rally or homecoming dance or what have you. The summer
after I graduated high school, however, was a different story.
I’m still not sure how or why this happened, but my friends and
I went through a very deep and long classic rock phase,
centered around arguing over which volume of The White
to listen to and playing Led Zeppelin’s IV
at top volume for hours, driving around the streets and smoking
pot. I do not care for the Beatles. I can never listen to Led
Zeppelin again. If “Baba O’Reilly” comes on in my presence, I
will leave. We did listen to a lot of Steely Dan, though, and
that is the one band that stuck. –Megan Reynolds

5. Leftover Crack

All my high school crushes were crusty punk kids (as “crusty”
as you could be in the suburbs). It always felt like a “punk
cred” competition where people would just name bands and judge
you if you weren’t into them. I definitely pretended to KNOW
about bands and would later google them and/or download
whatever I could on Limewire. My most embarrassing example of
this is a band called Leftover Crack. They are
extremely bad and gross but all the boys loved them
and I became “a fan” and I really think it’s my greatest shame.
Veronica de Souza

6. 311

In high school, I pretended to like a lot of music for the boys
I was dating and wanted to date (one especially uncomfortable
period was when I got heavily into the DC reggae scene). Before
then, though, my friend Skylar and I had a crush on three boys
one year older than us. One of their Facebook pages listed 311
under his “Music” interests, so we decided to obsessively
listen to 311 and mention it very loudly while we were around
him, though he never particularly cared. One time, somehow, we
were in a hot! tub! with the three of them and one of them put
on 311 and Skylar and I both simultaneously shit our bikini
bottoms with joy. –Joanna Rothkopf

7. Jane’s Addiction

I actually liked Jane’s Addiction in 10th grade but I may have
overstated my fandom to a boy I had a crush on. Then when he
came over to my house and saw my cassette collection he was
EXTREMELY disappointed. I will never forget him pulling out
2 Hype and exclaiming with
disturbed incredulity, “KID and PLAY????” Listen… I had great
taste in music. I looked up that dude on Facebook and he is
hella busted now. –Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

8. Nirvana

I went to an all boys military academy, so dating didn’t really
happen. There was this girl in my mom’s town who I had a
huuuuuuge crush on but she wouldn’t date a kid “so far away.”

In about my junior year of high school, grunge was huge and she
was down with the whole Nirvana/Hole amalgamation. She was a
badass in the era of MTV badasses, while I was into groups like
Gravediggaz and Iron Maiden. Anyway, summer was coming up and I
went to a local skate shop and bought this deck in my attempts
to woo her and show her “how down I was.” The rest of the story
is kinda fuzzy due to age, but I think we might have made out
and I gave her the board. –Sam Woolley

9. Sublime

My coolest set of friends as a teen were my swim team buddies.
They all smoked weed and drank vodka and Sprite out of water
bottles, and most importantly, listened to Sublime. They all
acted like they knew what Santeria was and they all knew the
lyrics. We listened to their self-titled album on a little
aquamarine boom box while sunbathing between our events at like
every swim meet in 2002. By the end of the season, I had
googled Santeria and knew all the lyrics, too. –Kelly

10. Widespread Panic

My music taste has always been a mix of “soundtrack to a
well-meaning freshman women’s studies course,” Patti Smith, and
a little punk. Jam bands don’t feature much in that equation
and yet, for my entire junior year, I pretended to have a deep
and abiding interest in Widespread Panic. A boy on my water
polo team with a ridiculous amount of unkempt hair was very
into jam bands and, in attempt to be very cool, I declared my
love for Widespread Panic after seeing him wear a shirt with
the band’s logo. To be clear, I had no idea who they were or
what their music sounded like but I was forced to listen to
them after he invited me to his house for a listening session.
I think I stupidly let that go on for most of my junior year,
wasting away my youth, pretending to love Widespread Panic.
Stassa Edwards

11. Green Day

Prob Green Day, I guess. But now I actually like them, so.
Emma Carmichael

12. Hole

My musical taste was largely formed through listening to
classic rock and classic country on the radio, as my parents
preferred, or watching MTV, which was mostly R&B when I
discovered it, according to my unreliable memory. I basically
listened to Toni Braxton on repeat all through junior high, but
somehow ended up hanging out with grungy kids who explained to
me who Nirvana was. When Hole released Celebrity Skin,
I spent many afternoons sitting around with a bunch of girls in
a darkened bedroom, burning scented candles and listening to it
on repeat. I just re-listened to the single now, and it stirred
welcome nostalgic memories, but at the time I hated it, and
feel happy to finally admit that. –Aimee Lutkin

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