A colleague pointed out this new phenomenon to me the other day, and I have to say I'm equally sceptical AND overjoyed. The juke box used to be a quite significant means of self-expression back when I were a lad. many's the night I poured a few 10 pence pieces into the box in the corner and waited with baited breath until that Roxy Music b-side caused my friends to go 'what's THIS?'. It usually took about 3 hours, mind you.
But this 'Wyatting' is perhaps just a logical reaction to the general blanding of 'popular' music as we know it. Who wouldn't long to metaphorically kick all those Jack Johnson and James Blunt fans in the teeth by forcing them to listen to Terry Riley or Merzbow on a Friday night in Islington's more desperate pub approximations? Just common sense as far as I can see.
As to this article's claim that some people see it as '...just a way for those who feel superior, both in terms of class and musical taste, to bait those beneath them.' Well, if I feel superior already, surely I don't need to have a go at those less fortunate? ;-) And maybe it's just a nicer thing to have on in a pub. The origins in NY with Eno's Thursday Afternoon seem to bear this out. Rather that piece of loveliness than the Scissor Sisters' hysterical conservatism any day.
Frankly, forget the references to Adorno, it's good fun and a natural result of the ubiquity of media in our social spaces. Just redressing the balance.
Maybe it will lead to the removal of music from such spaces altogether. And maybe that's what we all need. Some space. As Adam Ant said...do us all a favour...