Novelty Headphones: Burn Them With Fire

Novelty Headphones: Burn Them With Fire

One stubborn trend that should be killed to death


We all need to stop. Every holiday season, without fail, I see one of capitalism's most horrendous abominations for sale en masse. People must keep buying them, as companies keep making them and spitting them out all over store shelves. Even outside of the gifting season, I see them. I'm talking about the novelty headphones. You've seen them too. From campus bookstores to Best Buy to Urban Outfitters, they're everywhere. Even my local record store carries them, which is a mystery to me as I can't imagine anyone who actually likes music would turn to Skull Candy for their personal listening needs. They look trashy, sound terrible, and should be abolished from the planet post-haste.

It'd be one thing if the manufacturers of these staticky sound tunnels just sold them for change. You could get a cheap, flashy pair of off-brand earbuds for a few dollars when you're in a pinch. But I've seen these things retailing for 30, 40, 50 dollars. They bring the same sound quality as the foam-coated wraparounds that came free with your cassette walkman in '92. The only difference is that they're much less comfortable and also look like green M&Ms.

I mean, I understand where the niche arose. Once portable music players actually started looking cool and not just like drab gray frisbees, electronics manufacturers figured they could capitalize on cute, trendy headsets. Even companies that had never sautered two wires together started jumping in. You'd see Swarovski crystal earbuds, Ed Hardy cup phones. They were ugly, expensive, and of shamefully low fidelity, but presumably they sold. Because fashion accessories will sell for too much every time, and headphones had become fashion accessories instead of just a way to drown out the public world.

I guess I just thought that people would figure it out one day. That they'd listen in and realize they'd been duped. They'd stop with the painful neon earbuds and drop the same cash on a nice pair of Audio Technicas that would not only make music sound the way it's supposed to sound, they would also ultimately look far classier than the little desperate trend-clingers. 

To be honest, I'm not sure if I've ever even seen a pair of Skull Candy earbuds worn in public. They're pretty recognizable and yet most people I see around with tunes plugged into their head tend to go off-brand. Yet the awful novelty buds are still sold everywhere. Are people just buying them as gifts, letting them sit unused in a closet for all eternity? Where is the market demand? Why are these still around? Can we kill them already?