Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve asked someone what kind of music they like, and waited for the dreaded ‘I like a little bit of everything really‘? Or immediately jumped to that answer when asked yourself in fear of being judged or pigeonholed? Personally I’ve been on both sides of this, and whether it comes from me or from whoever I’m talking to it makes me cringe a little. It may be accurate, but it gives absolutely nothing in terms of information to aid conversation.
What got me thinking about this today in particular was a conversation I had with a friend. On the topic of songs that stay in your head, he told me he’d been listening to Bon Jovi’s ‘You Give Love a Bad Name‘ a lot. This is fine – it’s an awesome track. I mean, who doesn’t love Bon Jovi? The statement that followed, however, is what got the wheels turning in my head: ‘Bon Jovi is a guilty pleasure. For a pop lover like me, is that bad?’.
Completely putting aside the fact that Build Me Up Buttercup has been in my head for the last 10 days (and that is probably a great example of a guilty pleasure!), I started thinking that this is likely the reason people are so quick to hide their true musical preferences behind the guise of EVERYTHING. The thought that music that is in any way different from the rest of their average playlist is a ‘guilty pleasure’ seems to me like a surefire way to stunt musical growth and knowledge. Sure, your friends might rib you for having subconsciously throwing out a couple of cheesy lyrics once in a while, but in my own experience once the jokes have been made everyone has a song going around their heads for inexplicable reasons and it makes for fun conversation.
Maybe the reason so many are so quick to have the cop-out answer fall out of their mouths is more base than this. I find that as time goes on, especially as a fan of rock music, that genres change, grow and die. This can leave you wondering what genres you actually do like.
When I was around 14 I went to my first gig with some guys from school and one of their dads to see Iron Maiden in Twickenham (awesome show, by the way) I remember my old man driving me back and saying something about me being into heavy metal. I immediately responded ‘it’s not heavy metal‘.
‘Oh? What is it then?‘
14 year old me was stumped for an answer. I’ve found genres hard to apply since the beginning, but I know now Iron Maiden probably do fit under the category of heavy metal. I know I love Motley Crue, Kiss, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper (the list goes on and on and on….) that fall commonly under Glam Rock/Metal – but how do you define the actual sound of glam to a RnB lover or a NOW disciple, as it’s a more of a visual tag than anything? If you come up with an immediate answer, your far more eloquent and musically experienced than I.
As you can see, the more you beg the question what kind of music do you actually like and try to understand the music itself along with its history and influences, you can talk and talk and talk. Add another open minded individual to the mix, and you could have a real learning experience. If you take nothing else from this, consider your answer when next asked ‘so what do you like to listen to?’. Maybe respond with artists, or what you’ve been listening to a lot lately. Fuel the fire with a contribution, rather than suffocating it by removing the oxygen.
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