Cultivation

By Jane Morgan

Collage by Rachel D
Collage by Rachel D

A lot of people use their music taste as a way to define themselves. I think there is something truly special about finding music written by someone else that feels as personal as the words you scribble in your journal. There is no shame in relating to any kind of music. Some songs have strong sentimental value, while others are just fun to dance and scream-sing along to, and the only thing these two songs have in common is your love, which makes them both great. Your taste is uniquely your own, and it is something that you should be able to revel in without worrying if it fits a certain image or if your friends will think you’re lame. Don’t lie about it to others, and don’t lie about it to yourself. I’ve noticed that a common case of this musical insecurity comes from realizing you like a song that is considered ~mainstream~ because it is on the radio. You should never feel weird about liking an artist that you hear on the radio, because YO: the reason that artist is getting radio time is usually because he or she is really good (unless it’s Robin Thicke. Robin Thicke is the worst). It’s not fair for you to deprive yourself of a song just because you’re worried about the associations, because the only label that a song fits under that truly matters is the label of your personal taste in music.

I think it’s wildly important to realize that no one has a “bad” taste in music. I have friends who have been truly embarrassed to tell me what music they listen to because they have a self-proclaimed awful taste in music. This idea has never made sense to me because music is completely personal, and it’s weird that you could ever consider something that makes you happy to be of bad quality. You shouldn’t judge someone for liking an artist that has had commercial success, just as you shouldn’t deem someone’s favorite band “irrelevant” because they are old news or still trying to make it big. I think it’s as simple as respecting one’s personal choices, and keeping in mind how shitty it feels when someone belittles you for your likes and dislikes. In broader terms of labels, don’t concern yourself with these false ideas of what kind of music makes you a hipster (the worst term) or mainstream (what even is a mainstream person?) because these labels are fleeting and irrelevant. Your music taste is an extension of yourself, but it is not something that makes you a certain type of person. Instead of aspiring to liking music that makes you cool or allows you to fit in with a group of people, aspire to discover music that makes you truly happy.

It doesn’t seem fair to force yourself to exclusively listen to the music that your friends like, because no two people have identical tastes. There are plenty of things besides music that make people cool, so don’t completely adopt a friend’s musical preferences just to fit in. Just be yourself and embrace what you like, because that’s a lot better for everyone, and it’s what makes you unique. You should surround yourself with people who respect different tastes and realize that there is merit to everyone’s favorite music. It’s awesome to connect with a friend or stranger over a band, but never make it a competition, because there is literally no positive outcome to trying to convince someone you feel more about an artist that you both love. Never make another person feel like their love is invalid, or like they have to defend something that is personal and hard to explain. Feelings about music are unique and personal, so don’t invalidate someone else’s or let someone else invalidate yours. Friends are still great for helping you discover new music, so embrace that. Give your friend the satisfaction of showing you an artist that they think you will like, and give yourself the satisfaction of learning about someone new. Maybe that band will become one of your favorites, too, and you can always remember the friend who showed them to you.

People change, bands change, and musical preferences change. There is nothing wrong with suddenly liking a band that you haven’t enjoyed listening to before. Over winter break, I had too many conversations with my family trying to convince them that I genuinely like One Direction, and that I’m not just being ironic (being ironic is too difficult). Songs from Midnight Memories were being played in between songs from Majical Cloudz’s Impersonator, and very few things have made me happier because I genuinely love both albums. It’s an amazing feeling when you find new songs to add into your usual rotation, and it’s important to be open-minded about your favorite music changing over time. It’s still personal and reflective of you, which is what is truly important. Make your music taste your own, curate playlists for every activity, take recommendations, and recommend your favorite artists. Accept your favorite music as a part of yourself, and remember that you don’t have to use it or change it to fit anyone else’s expectations of what constitutes good music.

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