Issue 9, Semester 2, 2019
A little while ago, being the generous soul I am, I offered a friend a lift. And being even more kind-hearted, I gave them full control of DJing through my phone that was plugged into my aux. Obviously, this was also an exercise in trust – were they going to dig through my photos and find my selfies from when I was eighteen? Or was I giving them full license to creep through my text messages? No – worse. After a few minutes of them flicking through my playlists, they looked over at me, laughed and said ‘wow, your music taste really sucks.’
So, I laughed back, and pushed them out of the car.
I have been told several times, while I’m minding my own business and listening to my music, that my taste in music is less than on point. And, to be honest, this bothers me a little bit. You know what? I confess I would definitely say that I like One Direction’s music. I would go as far as to say that I am a Taylor Swift fan. Back in the day the Jonas Brothers had my heart. Is it Ed Sheeran’s tunes that I sing along to in the shower? Am I ashamed? Not even slightly.
Music snobbery is the worst kind of snobbery. Why? Because people listen to music that makes them happy. By telling someone that their music taste is really average, you’re effectively undermining what brings them joy, and as I’ll go into later, your insults won’t make us change our ways. You listen to music that no one else has heard of? Good for you. You listen to heavy metal? Not my cup of tea, but I’m glad you enjoy it. You listen to music that has no lyrics, only sounds? I’m happy for you. You embrace what you like, and I’ll embrace what I like. I would prefer to be told that someone doesn’t like my music, rather than they think I listen to crap music. You might not like what I listen to, however I do - that’s why it’s allowed to take up space on my Spotify. It’s not about me having amazing taste, or you having a superior taste – it’s about us having different tastes and that’s what makes the world interesting.
A while ago, I read a quotation that really resonated with me: ‘you can decide what you do, but you cannot decide what you like’. Especially when it comes to music, there is nothing that rings truer for me. I can decide to listen to all of the 1980s rock in the world, but that’s not going to make me as happy as bopping along to whatever is gracing the Top 40 at the moment. I can’t suddenly make myself love music that I previously haven’t enjoyed. There’s nothing I can do about that, but there’s nothing I want to either.
If you criticise my music choice because ‘it’s bad’, you have about a 0% chance of changing my opinion about anything you listen to. I’m willing to listen to music outside my genre because I like finding new artists and songs that I enjoy. I might not enjoy everything that is recommended to me, but hey, I’ll try my best.
However, you insulting what I like isn’t going to make me any more receptive to your music. To the music snobs reading this – have you ever criticised somebody’s choice, then given them an iPod full of ‘good’ music choices, had them look at you with enlightened eye, and heard them whisper ’this is the way’. I doubt it.
So next time you’re listening to someone’s music, don’t brush it off with an insult or an eye roll. You won’t get anywhere, and it’s rude. Instead, share a mild ‘this isn’t my stuff’ or better yet have a listen – maybe, like I have been before, you’ll be surprised.
Laura is a First Year JD Student.