I first discovered my iPhone's musical taste this past March, at SXSW in Austin, Texas. Watching a very epic metal bill at the outdoor barbecue joint/venue Stubb's (Enslaved, High on Fire, Napalm Death, Motörhead), I shot out a few boozy, excited mass text messages. Although most responses were along the lines of "omg soooo jealous f u," one pal quickly put me back in my place: "really u typed motorhead in a txt with the dot thingies over the o? u r an asshole."
Wait — I knew I was an asshole for being a schmoozy industry person at a schmoozy industry fest, for being drunk on free beer at 4 p.m., and for owning an iPhone and typing on it during a concert involving Napalm Death. But surely my text messaging had not yet reached asshole level (I had to save something for nighttime), until I checked my outgoing message. There it was: Motörhead, typed with the umlaut and everything. What? Umlauts aren't even an option in the iPhone's various English-language keyboards. Motörhead was, for some reason, a valid entry in my phone's predictive text.
I found this a funny quirk, making sure to send out Lemmy-centric electronic missives over the next few months — until I sent another text message the other day about the upcoming Crüe Fest show at the Cruzan Amphitheatre. Motley came out in its dictionary form, but the word that comes after it popped out, in the predictive text, thusly: Crüe. Then, another test, related to a rock and roll beverage: Jäger, my phone offered, helpfully spelled correctly. "omg u guys - my phone's predictive text was programmed by an old headbanger," I tapped out to friends.
Clearly my iPhone, and Apple by extension, was some kind of arbiter of musical taste. The Crüe and Motörhead, apparently, have been deemed important enough for their own predictive text entries. Was it an oracle of some sort? Did a predictive text entry equal good? If the phone didn't offer the correct spelling of a particular band, and didn't offer an alternative either, was that equivalent to a meh? If the phone offered a completely different, and sometimes poetically apt suggestion, did that mean major suckage?
I tried some other well-known bands sporting rock dots in their names. Queensrÿche was offered to me as a complete word, after many typed letters, sans umlaut. A tacit nod to some of the band's merits, or at least popularity, but a comment on the pretentious uselessness of that stupid ÿ? I was allowed to type Bjork, sans umlaut, but without any suggestions — a neutral withholding of feelings about the Icelandic banshee whose existence we all must at least acknowledge. I typed out the entire first word of Hüsker Dü, only to be offered husked. Hmmmm. Perhaps angry metal iPhone was upset about Hüsker Dü's role in the takedown of hair bands. Blue Öyster Cult, alas, could not be properly tested, for every word in the name is a legitimate dictionary entry.
But since it typed out its beloved Crüe, would the iPhone have recommendations for what to check out on the Crüe Fest lineup? First up, Trapt, the silly misspelled nü-metal act hailing from the era in which all of those bands' names were misspelled (see Dredg, Staind, et al.). "Trait," iPhone offered. Hmmm, I agree; the misspelling is an irritating trait. iPhone says pass on Trapt. How about peer Papa Roach (insert your own "Last Resort" jokes here)? Papa came out okay, but by r-o-a-c, iPhone was desperately offering road. What's that? Hit the road while Papa Roach comes on? Okay.
How about SIXX:A.M., Nikki Six's current project? Strangely, trying to continue to type after S-i-x-x resulted in this suggestion: Sixx's. Truly, then, SIXX:A.M. is all about Nikki, regardless of what the other band members or anyone else tries to say. Right on. The acknowledgment of Sixx as valid in the iPhone means anything involving the man is a winner. Finally, Buckcherry, the slightly glam-tinged rock group that blasted out with that feel-good single "Cocaine" (a word that also pops up easily in iPhone): Bingo, iPhone offers the whole thing up as one word, albeit after many letters. So Buckcherry, then, after much effort, has proved itself worthy of rocking with the Crüe. So there you have your value judgments — don't blame me; blame Apple. See you at Crüe Fest, after the Papa Roach and Trapt sets. I'll be drinking Jäger.