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What Are You Listening To?

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What Are You Listening To?

Three New Yorkers take off their headphones and chat.

Lauren, 28

What are you listening to right now?
I listen to a lot of Spanish music, like Julio Venegas, and I like old-school stuff, like salsa.

Do you have a Spanish background?
Yeah, I dance salsa and speak Spanish. I lived in Cuba so I like a lot of Cuban music, like Silvio Rodriguez and Los Van Van. I really have broad tastes though — I also listen to a lot of Broadway musicals and Top 40 hits. There's a twenty-two-year old in the production office where I work who also keeps me clued in to all the hipster bands.

Listen: "Ojalá" by Silvio Rodriguez 

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What does he say are the hipster bands?
I seriously haven't even heard of most of them. I'd say the most hipster I am is three-years-ago hipster, like MGMT or Arcade Fire.

What are the Broadway musicals you like?
Oh God! It's so embarrassing! All right, here are the musicals I like: Once on This Island, Blood Brothers, Pippin, I mean, really dorky stuff. A Chorus Line is also my secret thing — it gets me in a good mood on my way to work. But this is a serious secret! I'd never admit it in public.

Don't worry — no one but the internet will know about it.
Great.

Your date goes to the bathroom and you look at his iPod. What band makes you run out without paying?
I'd say if someone wasn't into Bob Dylan, I'd question that, probably. Even though I recognize Top 40 is terrifically awful, I still enjoy it, so I don't judge people for stuff like that. They make it to be catchy and danceable, and I enjoy dancing.

What do you think it says about a person if they don't like Bob Dylan?
That their parents didn't raise them right. [laughs]

Listen: "Masters of War" by Bob Dylan

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Who should stop making music?
Who's the girl who did the "Friday" YouTube sensation?

Rebecca Black.
I'd tell her to stop.

Eduardo, 20

What are you listening to right now?
I'm listening to Jurassic 5.

Was there any hip-hop that came out this year that you were really excited about?
Most hip-hop coming out these days I'm not so excited about, but there's one rapper I really like named Lil B. He's an eccentric rapper, but I like him for that. He's nothing like Jurassic 5 in terms of lyricism and beats, but he's fun.

Listen: "Think I'm Based God" by Lil B

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Who are some hip-hop artists today who you think aren't contributing anything new to the genre?
The ones who aren't concerned with lyricism, I suppose. Some people would call Lil B one of those rappers, but I think he's far out in terms of ideas and himself as a human being. I think someone who should stop is probably Soulja Boy, even though Lil B actually partners up with him sometimes.

Are there any songs that remind you of a special lady?
Yeah, there is, actually. I've also been listening to Cee Lo, and one song I love by him is a cover he did of a Band of Horses song called "No One's Gonna Love You." The full chorus is "No one is ever gonna love you more than I do."

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Listen: "No One's Gonna Love You" performed by Cee Lo Green

Have you been a Cee Lo fan for a long time? Since the Goodie Mob days? The Soul Machine days?
Hell yeah, man. The Lady Killer, which just came out, is a really good album, too.

What do you think of Cee Lo being a judge on The Voice?
I think it's amazing, man [laughs]. He's the perfect guy to do it. He's nice, he's plump, he's a social butterfly.

Is there any music on your Blackberry that you're embarrassed to have on there?
Yes — Alicia Keys.

What's wrong with Alicia Keys?
None of my homeboys listen to Alicia Keys. Well, they probably do, behind closed doors. It's not something a man is proud to say. "Oh, yeah, I listen to a lot of Alicia Keys."

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Listen: "No One" by Alicia Keys

It's not the worst thing you could have said.
No, its not. I could have said…

Rebecca Black.
I could have said something like that. Or Justin Bieber.

Other than those two, who is an artist you think should stop making music?
Other than Soulja Boy for hip hop, I don't know… Meat Loaf?

You've got something against "I Would Do Anything For Love?!"
No, I'm just kidding. I don't even listen to Meat Loaf. Just the name "Meat Loaf" makes me laugh.

Are there any artists out right now who you think people should check out?
Right now, I think a band everyone should check out is a group my cousin is in. It's a rap group called 85th. It's representing 85th St. in Jamaica, Queens. They're the new Odd Future, right? Except their lyrics aren't so ridiculous.

Jessica, 29

What are you listening to today, Jessica?
Oh God! I'm listening to Cursive…

Listen: "Casualty" by Cursive

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I think that's awesome! Which album?
Domestica. My music tastes are horrible. I'm mixing that with my Next to Normal soundtrack. What else have I been listening to… Neil Young, Nelly Furtado. It's sort of all over the place.

What's an album that came out recently that you're really into?
You know, I listen to a lot of Pandora, so there are songs on there that I don't know what album they come from. I like Lily Allen. I like Adele. A lot of chick music, probably. My Neil Young stuff I've been listening to a lot lately. It all depends on how much rage I have when I'm sitting at my desk.

Let's say you were on a date with someone and they brought up a favorite band of theirs. What would be a dealbreaker for you?
I guess if they brought up any boy bands I'd be curious about their sexuality [laughs]. I'd be wondering why I was on that date. But I'm usually pretty flexible. He'd probably be more embarrassed to scroll through my iPod than I would his.

Who's an artist you'd be embarrassed to admit you like on a first date?
Probably boy bands!

Hypocrite!
[laughs]

Who's your favorite boy band?
Oh Jesus, you can't go wrong with *NSYNC, but that's just because I still like Justin Timberlake. But how old is that now? That happened ten years ago, and now he's a fancy actor.

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Listen: "Bye Bye Bye" by *NSYNC

Who's a musician who you think should stop making music?
I feel awful for saying this, but I'd probably say Dave Matthews. He should just smoke his weed and fade off into the distance. I used to be a fan, because I'm from Colorado, but I've seen enough Dave Matthews Band shows to last me a lifetime. Enough is enough, buddy.

What's your favorite song to sing in the shower?
I'm gonna go with anything Lily Allen. With a fake British accent.