This week’s post is gonna be a little less structured and more stream-of-consciousness than past entries, as something has been weighing heavily on my mind lately: the shame that is associated with enjoying certain types of music. And I know using the word “shame” makes it seem as if I’m talking about having to sneak away into complete solitude to listen to your favorite record, but that’s not necessarily what I mean. I’m referring to the urge to want to edit and alter your answer when someone asks “So, what kind of music do you like?” to construct a playlist that is the most interesting and least embarrassing, oftentimes at the expense of honesty and accuracy.
This comes up in my life more often than I would like, and I tend to default to saying that my favorite genre of music is alt-rock if someone asks me; and it makes sense: I fit the cliché model of the type of person who likes that type of music, with my thrashed band tees, pin-covered denim jacket, and scuffed Dr. Martens. But in reality, I rarely listen to rock music anymore, and have begun to consider it the genre of my youth, the anthems of my 16-year-old self. Now, I listen to rap, decades-old country, and obscure European pop on the regular, beginning my day with a trap-heavy D.R.A.M. track and ending it with bluesy Benji Lewis one. And though my most-played tracks have sprung out of these genres, I act as though I exclusively lend my ear to bands like Radiohead and Pearl Jam, a persona that is simply untrue.
I think that myself and many others fall victim to this self-fulfilling prophecy, and are quick to fit the musical mold that best suits their appearance, interests, age, or gender, mostly because it is painfully easy to do so. Not only is it easy, but sometimes the ever-present elitist phenomenon of music snobbery has the tendency to shame certain types of music, certain fanbases, and songs with a certain level of (often immense) popularity (any track by a top-40 pop artist checks all of those boxes). But, as Harry Styles so eloquently put it in his recent interview with Rolling Stone (which is incredible, by the way): “Who’s to say that young girls who like pop music – short for popular, right? – have worse musical taste than a 30-year-old hipster guy? That’s not up to you to say. Music is something that’s always changing.”
I absolutely adore this sentiment. Music is fluid and evolving, and the age, maturity, or interests of the listener in no way negate the quality, importance, or worth of the record. In short, don’t be ashamed of what you love to listen to. So if you’re like me, a girl who looks like she could be selling merch under a plastic tent at Warped Tour, yet considers Kendrick Lamar one of her favorite artists, and from time to time indulges in the late-90’s country that defined her Tim Mcgraw-tinged childhood growing up in the south; or if you are the total opposite: love what you listen to, and shout that love from the rooftops. If your friends think country music is God’s sick way of punishing the human race for wars and injustice, then so be it; but don’t let that take away your love for it. If you look like the complete and total opposite of what a rap fan is expected to be, don’t let it discourage you from proclaiming and defending Kanye’s Late Registration as one of the greatest records of all time.
In short, no matter what you look like, where you’re from, or what you are “supposed” to like: Love what you listen to, and shout it from the rooftops.