23/08/2011 12:49 | By Tom Townshend, contributor, MSN Music

Rise of the haters

The internet and social media have given rise to a very modern phenomenon: the hater. Tom Townshend asks if the negativity has gone too far…


Music lovers of earth. We are facing perhaps our greatest foe and we are powerless against it. An enemy that is, for the most part anonymous and yet ubiquitous; careless in its approach but ruthless in attack; and one which would destroy everything we hold dear, just for the lolz.

They are... the haters. And they're everywhere.

Cher Lloyd (© Rex)

Only last month, the prophet Cher Lloyd foretold of how the haters: "Can't stop clickin' 'bout me, writin' 'bout me, tweeting 'bout me".

And perhaps some of us laughed, because Swagger Jagger might as well have been born into this world with the words "hate me" stuck to its back - the single was a red rag to a hating bull.

But perhaps we shouldn't have scoffed quite so hastily, because haters don't discriminate between good and bad music. Haters hate all music that isn't the music they like.

There isn't a YouTube video, Amazon album or MSN Music feature that hasn't been hated on by a hater. Someone could release a single made by and for war orphaned puppies, containing music so beautiful it was found to cure 90% of all known diseases, and be accompanied by a video featuring the smiling faces of actual angels and the first comment underneath it would read: "fake and gay".

There are no limits where haters are concerned.

But what in Hades is a hater? Where did they come from and why are they hanging around pop music like flies on Pete Doherty's hat?

Like ill-fitting trousers, bouncy suspensions and bling, haters appear to have evolved first from the hip hop community. With rap being an often literally competitive game, and the rewards for success being incredibly high, it's no surprise that jealousy is rife. In fact, hating on one's fellow rapper became so commonplace that it was necessary for records to be made addressing the problem.

Chamillionaire (© Rex)

Texan MC Chamillionaire showed great understanding of the situation on his 2005 track Good Morning. "I wanna show all my haters love, this song's for you," he raps, "If you acted like me, and I was in your shoes / I'd probably hate on me too".

What Chamillionaire has done here is recognise that the self-aggrandising, arrogant stylings of many of hip hop's stars, himself included, only serves to exacerbate the jealousy of those less fortunate or talented.

A year after the release of Good Morning, Compton's The Game came out with My Turn, in which he says: "These rap n***** hate and they smile in my face / The rabbit n***** mad 'cos the turtle won the race", before going on to threaten to shoot some people.

But apart from The Game's marvellous invocation of Aesop's Fables, he also identifies a key aspect to the haters' personality: their disingenuous smiles.

Haters may seem like they're joking, and indeed this is usually their first defence when challenged, but deep down they're angry. Angry at music, angry at people who love music and angry at a music world they cannot control, and which keeps producing records they don't enjoy. This is the source of their hate.

Now of course, hip-hop has been confronting the hater in their midst for many years (the late Biggie Smalls took the Playa Hater to task as far back as 1997). But the wider world of pop and rock was quite unprepared for the plague of hate that was to be unleashed once social networking and online video sites took hold. Now what was once some bad mouthing from former crew members became a global hater-fest, with seemingly free entry for all.

No one, you might think, could possibly hate the lovely Adele. And yet, here, posted under one of her videos are the words: "she is on the radio evry single f**** day and the songs are dead depressin". Even the censored swear word was spelt incorrectly because the hater cares not for the sanctity of syntax. Like a sloppy assassin they move in quickly for the kill, but leave a terrible mess behind.

Janet Devlin (© ITV)

How about young Janet Devlin, the newest star of TV's The X Factor? Could anyone hate her sweetly shy singing? The haters can: "She's all the rage with retards after one awful performance. This time next year, no one will remember who she is." The spelling may be correct but the hate is strong in this one.

And what of Justin Bieber, the Internet's most popular popstar? Is he immune from the haters? No, and neither are his fans: "FANGIRLS SUCK AND SO DOES THIS LITTLE TWERP!" Of all the words they could've used...

For the hater, life is lived in caps lock. They are a tiny voice in the darkness of the world wide web, screaming to be heard above the din of people just doing stuff and liking stuff. Do not become a hater, it's a lonely life peppered with pyrrhic victories as your foul-mouthed tirades see you blocked and banned from the forums on which your hate feeds. The music you hate will go on being made, no matter how hard you hate it, and no matter how many times you say it sucks. Names can never hurt it.

Be a lover not a hater; don't be jealous or frightened of all that music you dislike. As Yoda once said: "Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to misspelled insults on the Internet." See ya laterz.

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