Go With The Beat
Have you ever felt like you just don’t belong where you are? I’m sure it has happened at least once. At those annoying times, all you want to do is escape into an alternate reality or shut yourself out. Almost always, you end up putting your headphones on and tuning the world out of your head.
But what type of music would you enjoy at those times ? Well, you most certainly wouldn’t choose soft rock, right? Yeah. NO SHIT Sherlock !
Have you ever wondered why it is that a band you used to follow a year ago doesn’t hold the same appeal anymore ? Well, your taste in music evolves as you age.
When I was in middle school, I used to just blast my speakers to punk rock and pop because I found it cool. Yep, it was “popular” ! The girls I knew were crazy after One Direction and vowed to love them forever. The sound of Simple Plan and Fall Out Boy and LP screaming in my head back then was my understanding of what it was to be “high”. Foo Fighters and Backstreet boys would take me to a land far far away.
In the wink of an eye, I had made my way to high-school! And there’s this cool kid who is a pro at beatboxing and looks like EDM is the new fad now! Yeah, the kids no longer worship Slim Shady since he decided to get way too emotional in his latest releases. Its Hardwell and Guetta and Skrillex that we crave now. Coldplay and Imagine Dragons feel nice when you are alone and cozy. Ed Sheeran and Ellie Goulding have got a beautiful voice but you save them for the lonely bus rides to school and back. You want to sway with the build up and then go absolutely fanatic at the eagerly awaited Drop.
According to Dr. Jason Rentfrow, a senior researcher studying these changes, “Teenage years are often dominated by the need to establish identity , and music is a cheap, effective way to do this. Intense music, seen as aggressive and tense, and characterized by loud, distorted sounds has the rebellious connotations that allow adolescents to stake a claim for the autonomy that is one of this period’s key ‘life challenges’.”
Then there are the times when you don’t give a shit about what your playlist contains. All you do is go check out the top 100 on Billboard for the month and torrent all of them to your library. You are actually just bored and not feeling particularly creative or outgoing. Side note: Studies show that when a person does that, they aren’t really at ease. (Studies don’t always get it right, though… Right?)
But it doesn’t always work like that. We all know one way or another that a person’s taste in music does evolve as they age; but what exactly do you mean by “aging”? Is it just growing old? Is it just a count of how many birthday bums or claps you get at 12am that night? (No one even follows that anymore. Your buddies just whoop you, demand a treat and then it’s just another day) You age with your experiences and the various interpersonal relationships that you build. Age is just a measure of your maturity.
As we’ve discussed before, the music one listens to is just a reflection of the particular ‘life challenge’ they’re facing during different phases of their life. Our taste in music changes to meet our social and psychological needs. Say, in a hypothetical situation, you were in the middle of a break-up. You wouldn’t really be tuning your playlist to country rock now. And even The Chainsmokers’ Closer is not going to appeal to you anymore, being in the middle of an emotional breakdown. No! Heavy Metal would be my bet! If you’d felt earlier that Metallica and Lamb of God were just a raucous screeching then you would be reconsidering it this time. You go and dissect your library, searching for a genre which is a reflection of your anger and pain.
Having said that, perpetually playing sad songs can also screw you up, eventually creating an endless loop of victimization. You realize it sooner or later and then comes the shift.
Your genre preference is almost always tied to your personality. When you feel you’ve attained a stage where you are at ease and are an outgoing and gentle person, you just might become a fan of Blues or Jazz. Professor Adrian North of Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK, has undertaken the largest study so far of musical tastes and personality type. “The general public has held a stereotype of heavy metal fans being suicidally depressed and being a danger to themselves and society in general,” he said, “but they are quite delicate things. Aside from their age, they’re basically the same kind of person [as a classical music fan]. Lots of heavy metal fans will tell you that they also like Wagner because it’s big, loud and brash. There’s also a sense of theater in both heavy rock and classical music, and I suspect that this is what they’re really trying to get at when they listen.”
Have you ever observed people getting defensive about the type of music they like to listen to? It happens because it is profoundly linked to their outlook on life.
Phew ! You know what ? If this stuff is playing with your brain making you wonder about the “deep” relations of music with your life, my advice is, just close this page, put your headphones on… And… Well, you know what to do.
– Jeel Bhavsar