Apr 122012
Authors: Emily Luft

Human beings of the 21st century live in a world governed by pop culture. What would we talk about without it? Politics? No thanks.

The type of culture we consume says a lot about who we are. We like to define ourselves by our interests –– especially on platforms such as Facebook. When you Facebook stalk someone, what do you look at? Their photos, sure, but you’re also looking at their “likes.” Is your taste in movies compatible? Do they love your favorite musician? Instead of describing yourself using your own words, you often let other people’s work do the talking for you.

You used to be limited to music, movies, books, television and “interests,” but now there are even more ways you can express yourself. Sports teams! Athletes! People who inspire you! There’s more, but I’m too lazy to look. Rather than making a unique contribution to the world, most of us just brag about liking stuff other people made. Nice try, us. “I love Harry Potter!” Oh really? Tell me more!

I think this is especially true of music. What you listen to is what you are. They definitely got it wrong when they said, “You are what you eat.” What does that even mean? I am not Chipotle. But if you listen to country music, people might think you’re country. We take music personally. Sometimes we take it too personally. We take music so seriously.

My personal taste in music is pretty spread out and all over the place. I grew up loving Trisha Yearwood, Alanis Morisette and a few ‘80s greatest hits albums, notably “Pure ‘80s” and “More Pure ‘80s.” I really hope they eventually make one called, “So Much More 80’s!” My mom would make me these mix tapes, actually on cassette tapes, recorded straight from the radio of the best dance remixes. There was a lot of Ace of Base, La Bouche, C C Music Factory, Salt-n-Pepa. You know, the classics.

That weird concoction only got weirder. But while I love many types of music, I can’t stand just as many. iTunes tries so hard to recommend new music, but it’s wrong every time.

Since I’ve gotten to college, music has gotten touchy for me. In high school I loved making mix CDs for people. I was a mix CD slut. I received quite a few myself. I handed them out like candy: birthdays, Christmas, graduation, you name it, you got a mix CD. But now I feel like it’s harder for me to read people’s taste in music. Either that, or I’m just more afraid I’ll get it wrong. I, personally, haven’t gotten a mix CD in forever (Feel free to make me one!)

But I feel like I can’t have an honest discussion about music without someone raining on my parade. I’m all about making fun of stuff, but sometimes I just want to mention a band without getting barked at. I get it, you don’t like Yanni. People love to complain about what other people listen to, but people get even more upset if you don’t listen to the right stuff. “WHAT you haven’t heard of them? We can’t be friends anymore!” What do you mean? I haven’t even heard them, I might like them! We might be musically compatible!

Madonna was hella wrong when she said, “Music makes the people come together, yeah.” Music sometimes makes people come together, sure, but only if those people like the music that’s taking place.

I think that’s currently one of my biggest pet peeves: music snobs. There are the critics, the music majors, the hipsters (what does that even mean, though). My brother is a musician, and sometimes I’ll suggest he listen to a song and he’ll say “the chord changes in that song aren’t complex. They are the same as every other song on the radio.” So what!! Who cares, there are only so many notes out there. If I like it, who cares if it’s complex enough. You can have good taste in music, but still enjoy crappy pop tunes. And are they crappy if you enjoy them? Don’t be ashamed! It’s okay to admit you have a deep love for The Doobie Brothers.

It’s hypocritical of me to write this, however. I’ve made fun of plenty of people because of their taste in music. I’ve laughed at one or 10 Taylor Swift fans. But I’ve noticed this about myself, and I’m trying to change.

If someone says they like Taylor Swift, I’ll do my best not to make a vomit noise or mention how Kanye was right; Beyoncé definitely should’ve gotten best video. And maybe if I say I love Lady Gaga you can shut up about the “she’s a man” thing. Deal? Deal. Maybe we should all just shut up and listen.

Emily Luft is a junior journalism major. She can be reached at letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 2:26 pm

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