I often feel disappointed when people around me don’t appreciate the same music as me, or rather, when everyone else listens to the same shit. I spent most of my teenage years believing that I just had “better taste”. Vanity comes easily when you listen to the Beatles among a crowd that goes gaga over ‘Dard-e-Disco’.
However it’s really unfair to judge taste. Not only is it highly subjective, but it also depends on the kind of exposure you get and factors that are unrelated to music, such as the company you keep.
Back in school, music mostly used to be a means of getting along with friends, and people picked up whatever the majority liked. I, however, enjoyed being alone and was somewhat resistant to peer pressure. I moved over to English music which consisted mostly of typical boy-bands on radio (Backstreet Boys), and then to bands I discovered online (Owl City, Green Day, Linkin Park). A year later I was lucky to develop affections for a girl who had quite a rare playlist (considering our age). Bob Dylan. Coldplay.
I admit I didn’t enjoy them a lot at first, but I listened to them anyway as it was an essential component in figuring her out. That’s all you need really; a little bit of effort, and you start appreciating whole new genres. Pretty soon I was head over heels in love with classic rock and folk. The Beatles. Pink Floyd. The Rolling Stones. Dylan. Joan Baez. Expanding the horizons was a piece of cake due to the internet. I started collecting discographies and exploring as many bands as possible and eventually gravitated towards specific artists. Simon and Garfunkel. Led Zeppelin. Dire Straits. The Carpenters. U2. The Doors. Leonard Cohen. so on.
Then came along Nodame Cantabile, and flung me into the strikingly different world of classical music. It was all very overwhelming at first; the long symphonies of which I liked specific parts but felt impatient during the remainder. Yet there was something which kept me coming back for more. For few months, I listened to classical exclusively, trying to figure out what exactly makes it so magical. That was two years ago, and I still feel dumbfounded to this day. This year I’ve been trying out a little of indie and electronic music too.
My group of friends consists of hardcore science students and it’s certainly understandable that music is just casual entertainment for most of them. I have to tolerate a lot of modern mainstream songs, and once in a while it gets on my nerves. While mainstream doesn’t necessarily mean inferior, it is always worth looking around before settling for something.
Next time you pick up a newly popular song and replay it a thousand times, remember that it pisses off people like me. I know it is impossible to appreciate music you haven’t heard, but why not start exploring?