Music is Weird

An Anecdote

So I was showing an album I was really liking recently to a friend of mine who I knows has at least somehow similar music taste to me. When we listened to the second song from the album, we talked about whether they liked it. They told me that they didn't really like the singing, and so I asked if we should do something else. They said that we can listen to one more song from the album first. And so we did. That's when another roommate came in, and after a few seconds started asking: "what's this noise?", followed by "this is horrible" and "is this music supposed to be a joke?". After about five of these remarks, I was looking a bit unhappy and told them that I didn't ask for their opinion. They responded by saying that they thought the music is not supposed to be serious, and followed up by saying that it was just their opinion, and probably of 99% people. I was like ok whatever, while being pretty angry deep inside.

Am I the asshole for listening to music that isn't loved by 99% of people? Am I a special snowflake for finding what they said pretty hurtful? Am I too much of an wuss, for not telling my housemate to fuck off right away? Is listening to singing competitions on tv, like my housemate does, the ultimate music taste? Why do I even listen to niche music like this? Why do some people like other music than others?

Maybe Wikipedia has the answers?

So I won't really answer any of these questions, but maybe I will at least partly answer the last one. So to get some answers I read some Wikipedia articles about music. Of course, in the end the answer is actually pretty simple. Music is an art form. Art is subjective. So music is subjective. To actually answer why do we like music is as hard as figuring out why do people enjoy other kinds of art.


Still there is something I find very interesting about music and how it can be categorized into genres. Why do certain people like certain genres? Somewhere, I read that music taste is pretty much entirely based on music you listen to in your youth, with it becoming basically entirely solid at about 18. At least speaking anecdotally, that kind of checks out. But still, that doesn't really explain how some people like really niche music, that most other people hate. Also if this was the biggest factor, why isn't everyone listening to Byzantine choral music or something like that? That's a logical extreme, but you get what I mean right? Even if I allowed that innovation in music was still a thing, why wouldn't everyone listen to the same genre of music? Or at least everyone who grew up in the same place with the same people like you? It certainly makes a gigantic difference, but you still probably have different tastes than your friends, even if you grew up together. I definitely do.

So another thing I thought about is that people kind of push themselves into genres, whose image they kind of like. Whose personality matches theirs. I am not sure at all if this is true, but it kind of feels like you can listen to basically any kind of music and grow to like it in time. Music is just an acquired taste. That is, if you don't actively decide that you don't like some kind of music. I guess actively isn't the best word to describe what I am trying to say - maybe internally is better. But don't tell me that when you hear some metal music with incomprehensible screaming you don't instantly think "wow I hate that" (disclaimer, I don't hate metal or screaming in music - I like both, also if you like metal, replace it with country or whatever genre you hate). My theory is that people have the genres of music that they don't like buried deeply in them. So not liking some genres of music might come down to people being conservative about what they like. Basically, people don't like new things. On the other hand, if you don't actively hate some kind of music and you listen to it enough, you might start loving it more and more.

Music Snobs

Another interesting thing is how interested some people are in music. It's a spectrum. Some people are kind of indifferent to music. They might listen to the radio, not really caring about the music at all. Some people might like some particular band or artist. They might like a few songs by that band or artist. Or they might have listened to all the albums, EPs, b-sides and everything else the artist created. Some people might do this for five bands. Or ten bands. Or even more. Some people might rate albums or even write reviews on But most people definitely don't. I think this is another big part that decides your music tastes. If you are really into music, you won't mind taking the time needed to explore nicher bands, artists and genres. You might also really enjoy being part of a small community of people who like this niche music. It feels good to be a part of that cool special club those boring people don't even know about. This is probably the reason why, when I show people one of my favorite bands The Brave Little Abacus, no one likes it. This is why the best rated album by this band - "Masked Dancers: Concern in So Many Things You Forget Where You Are" (really rolls of the tongue doesn't it?) is the 1001st best rated album on, which is an incredible placement, considering the site indexes over 4 million releases. There is a tiny amount of people who like niche music, and when they like niche music, they really really like it. They probably also love to feel superior to others when they listen to an album with a name this long. I certainly do.

If we connect this to the idea I raised before, things start making more sense. Your music tastes are formed while you grow up. But if you care about music enough, you can break free from those initial tastes, at least slightly. That's why everyone isn't listening to the same thing and why genres change. This is how you get people who like niche music.

Thoughts and Summary

So is that it? Is music taste mostly determined by the music around you when you grew up? Is another big part the fact that some people like being hipsters? It might be. But I still feel like there is more to this. Some music can be so relatable that it changes your music tastes by itself. I hope I don't like the music I like just because I am a snob. To be honest I am just spitballing here, I actually have no idea if what I am saying here is even remotely true. I have no idea what I am talking about. I should have done more research, because there definitely is someone who thought this stuff out much more thoroughly. But anecdotally, I feel like I can kind of explain my music tastes by these ideas.

2. 6. 2020