Posted April 22, 2015 by Mike Mineo in Features

Curious Listening Habits of the Rich and Famous

For the most part, people with oodles of money to spend can enjoy a level of luxury that most of us will never know – driving a Bentley, dinners at Craft, and jet-setting around the globe, just to name a few. At the same time, there are some things that are universal and impervious to money. One of those things is clearly music.
With the music industry being a truly global enterprise, money or fame has little to do with discovering or listening to new music. If access to music is the same for everyone, it begs the obvious question – what do celebrities listen to and is it any different from our usual playlists? While many jam to the same tunes as us, the following celebrities have a bit more eccentric taste:

Zach Galifianakis

With the unmistakable red beard and severely dry sense of humor, Zach Galifianakis has parlayed a cult stand-up comedy routine into a fully-fledged career, including such hits as The Hangover, Birdman, and his own interview show called Between Two Ferns.

In most of his acting and comedy roles, Galifianakis comes across as having unusual taste, but a glimpse inside his iTunes playlist gives even more understanding to how deep the weirdness goes. The playlist starts out with a tune from Bruce Springsteen and also has cuts by Bob Dylan and Run-DMC to keep some legitimate pop cred. From there, it heads off into a very different direction.

The centerpiece is certainly “Emily” by Joanna Newsom, an epic 12-minute song the showcases the singer’s interesting voice and adept playing of the harp. Regina Spektor, Rufus Wainwright, and Prince all have tracks on the 14-song compilation, but the most interesting choice could be the last song by Sigur Ros called Inni mer syngur vitleysingur. Sigur Ros is an Icelandic group that sings in Hopelandic, an invented language. Even though he is obviously unable to understand the lyrics (nobody can), Galifianakis had this to say: “They make you wonder at the often-broken human machine, which can, from time to time, be a locomotion of all desired emotion.” Pretty deep words for a man who makes his living as a comedic actor.

Daniel Negreanu

Known as Kid Poker, Daniel Negreanu has been tearing up the high stakes poker world for years. As one of the best players on the planet in an extremely competitive game where the amounts won and lost can be astronomical, Negreanu is famous for his positive, sometimes goofy temperament that has won him a legion of fans. Knowing his profession and attitude, what genre of music would best fit this character. If you guessed reggae, then you would be exactly right.

It may not seem like a great fit, but Negreanu’s love affair with reggae goes back to his childhood years growing up in an ethnically diverse area of Toronto where many of his friends were from Jamaica or other Caribbean island nations. The attraction to reggae music has persisted throughout the years and the outspoken poker player often talks about his roots, with a stunningly accurate Jamaican accent.

When the money’s on the line and Daniel has the headphones on, yet another surprise could be present. It’s probably not music, but rather ocean sounds and chirping birds that are flowing into his ears. Negreanu says that the sounds are like a message, helping him to keep his emotions in check while facing important decisions that could determine whether he wins or loses. What about late at night after a long session when he’s fighting to stay awake? Of course, Missy Elliott – a wide range of music for a multi-talented guy.

Prince Harry

Across the pond, Britain’s fourth in line for the crown has a rather different musical taste. With a military background, royal blood, and Queen Elizabeth II as his grandma, what would you think would be Prince Harry’s personal picks? He has stated previously that he likes the Big Four, which makes sense as The Beatles were both British as well as one of the greatest bands ever to put sound to wax.
Wait, not the Fab Four, but the Big Four.

Who are the Big Four? None other than the most revered names of thrash metal – Slayer, Anthrax, Metallica, and Megadeth. If you’re a bit surprised to find that one of the most important names in global royalty is a big fan of Reign in Blood, don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Outed by actor Dominic West, Prince Harry’s musical inclinations turned into a hot news item for several weeks. In addition to having an iPod filled with thrash metal, West also mentioned that Prince Harry was also quite keen with the dirty jokes, yet another interesting surprise.

Andrew Vachss

Author of hardboiled crime and detective novels, Andrew Vachss’ choice of music is more obscure than surprising, but still bears mentioning. Instead of listening to rock, pop, or even jazz, Vachss has a thing for deep blues. His attachment to the soul-stirring blues music also slips into his writing work as well, with many of the books mentioning certain songs by artists like Charlie Musselwhite, John Lee Hooker, and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.

To combine his two seemingly disparate passions, Vachss released one novel, Safe House, complete with a CD featuring top blues artists. The last track on the CD was called Ghost by an artist named Bazza and was actually based on an Andrew Vachss short story.

What do all these strange music tastes say about celebrities? Absolutely nothing, except for the fact that they’re just like the rest of us. We all like different kinds of music and what we personally identify with is such a personal thing that no conclusions can be drawn. If Prince Harry can listen to Enter Sandman and enjoy it, then we all should be fine with our own guilty music pleasures.

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound. I used to write for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine. Send your music to [email protected].