"Why would you spend money on bulky, expensive, sensitive vinyl records when you could easily buy a practical, relatively cheap iPod?" Although it may not be readily apparent, that question is essentially the same as "why do you listen to music?"

During my sophomore year of high school, a rebellious kid (or, more appropriately, a kid who was "just too smart" to enjoy simple pleasures like "music" or "friends") asked me that second question. At first, I struggled to come up with an answer. Do I need to listen to music? Wouldn't I be just as happy if I never knew the art form existed? Wouldn't I save time (an aspect of life that I've been told is equivalent to money) if I didn't debate with my friends
the cultural relevance of Wilco's"Yankee Hotel Foxtrot?"


You can actually make this argument about almost all forms/expressions of art, but doing that would take too much time (again, equivalent to money). So, exactly why do I listen to music? Simple: music is cool.

A lot of my actions in life are motivated by "coolness." Chances are, a lot of actions in your life are motivated by the same factor. However, few readily admit this as trying to be cool on purpose in socially understood to be "uncool."

But I'm afraid I've gotten off my intended path too much. Back to vinyl records. The reason I listen to vinyls (and probably the reason you listen to them as well, assuming you listen to vinyls) is that they're just cool.

Two Types of Cool

There are essentially two types of cool. Actually, I would argue that there are more types of cool than I can count, but I don't want to get into the nitty-gritty, and there is a theme among columnists (which I dare not break) to narrow everything down to its simplest form.

Again, I've gotten distracted. The two types of cool are "homecoming-king cool" and "hipster cool." The "homecoming king cool" is what you see on essentially every popular teen drama (not that I've watched any, of course). People who are "homecoming-king cool" usually partake in every "major" event in high school and make (mostly subconscious) cultural decision based on what is socially acceptable.

Most people I know unintentionally attempt to be "homecoming-king cool."

"Hipster cool" is actually the antithesis of "homecoming-king cool." In fact, hipsters hate homecoming kings. Hipsters are usually people who put more effort--probably too much effort--into finding the coolest music, movies, TV shows, clothes, girlfriends (and for that matter, boyfriends), technology, cars and toilet paper.

Because they spend so much time looking for the coolest possible music, hipsters are never, ever, EVER satisfied with listening to accessible music. They hate top-40 stuff. Generally speaking, the music chosen by hipsters holds up well. For example, while all the wannabe-homecoming kings were listening to Huey Lewis and the News and Journey, hipsters were rocking out to the Beastie Boys and Talking Heads.

Which bring me to the crux of my argument. While most people (homecoming kings, if you will) listen to their music either on their computer or their iPod, hipsters will always want something "different." And that is exactly what vinyl records are.