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 â€“â€“ especially on platforms such as Facebook. When you Facebook stalk someone, what do you look at? Their photos, sure, but youâ€™re also looking at their â€œlikes.â€ Is your taste in movies compatible? Do they love your favorite musician? Instead of describing yourself using your own words, you often let other peopleâ€™s work do the talking for you.
You used to be limited to music, movies, books, television and â€œinterests,â€ but now there are even more ways you can express yourself. Sports teams! Athletes! People who inspire you! Thereâ€™s more, but Iâ€™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. â€œI love Harry Potter!â€ 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, â€œYou are what you eat.â€ What does that even mean? I am not Chipotle. But if you listen to country music, people might think youâ€™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 â€˜80s greatest hits albums, notably â€œPure â€˜80sâ€ and â€œMore Pure â€˜80s.â€ I really hope they eventually make one called, â€œSo Much More 80â€™s!â€ 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 canâ€™t stand just as many. iTunes tries so hard to recommend new music, but itâ€™s wrong every time.
Since Iâ€™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 itâ€™s harder for me to read peopleâ€™s taste in music. Either that, or Iâ€™m just more afraid Iâ€™ll get it wrong. I, personally, havenâ€™t gotten a mix CD in forever (Feel free to make me one!)
But I feel like I canâ€™t have an honest discussion about music without someone raining on my parade. Iâ€™m all about making fun of stuff, but sometimes I just want to mention a band without getting barked at. I get it, you donâ€™t like Yanni. People love to complain about what other people listen to, but people get even more upset if you donâ€™t listen to the right stuff. â€œWHAT you havenâ€™t heard of them? We canâ€™t be friends anymore!â€ What do you mean? I havenâ€™t even heard them, I might like them! We might be musically compatible!
Madonna was hella wrong when she said, â€œMusic makes the people come together, yeah.â€ Music sometimes makes people come together, sure, but only if those people like the music thatâ€™s taking place.
I think thatâ€™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 Iâ€™ll suggest he listen to a song and heâ€™ll say â€œthe chord changes in that song arenâ€™t complex. They are the same as every other song on the radio.â€ So what!! Who cares, there are only so many notes out there. If I like it, who cares if itâ€™s complex enough. You can have good taste in music, but still enjoy crappy pop tunes. And are they crappy if you enjoy them? Donâ€™t be ashamed! Itâ€™s okay to admit you have a deep love for The Doobie Brothers.
Itâ€™s hypocritical of me to write this, however. Iâ€™ve made fun of plenty of people because of their taste in music. Iâ€™ve laughed at one or 10 Taylor Swift fans. But Iâ€™ve noticed this about myself, and Iâ€™m trying to change.
If someone says they like Taylor Swift, Iâ€™ll do my best not to make a vomit noise or mention how Kanye was right; BeyoncÃ© definitely shouldâ€™ve gotten best video. And maybe if I say I love Lady Gaga you can shut up about the â€œsheâ€™s a manâ€ thing. Deal? Deal. Maybe we should all just shut up and listen.
Emily Luft is a junior journalism major. She can be reached at email@example.com.